Step 1: Study the equipment or production line project thoroughly, understanding every requirement.
If a mechanical design engineer spends all day pondering how to optimize, standardize, and enhance the performance of existing products, this is a work that follows established rules and naturally, it is much easier.
Now, facing a completely new project, often referred to as a non-standard project that needs to be designed, it represents a fresh challenge, essentially a tough battle. It’s time to show your true ability.
First, a careful study of the project’s requirements is necessary.
Every word, every phrase, each requirement should be discussed with the project proposer or the client to understand their real intentions.
Project requirements or plans generally include the following:
- Functional and performance requirements.
- Construction requirements.
- Project timeline requirements.
- Installation and debugging requirements.
- Inspection and acceptance requirements.
The first requirement is the core of the project. As long as the functions and performance indicators of the equipment or production line can be achieved, other requirements are not a problem in business negotiations.
Next, start creating a design plan.
The quality of the design plan directly affects the success of the detailed design later. How to do a good job in the design of the plan? Just like preparing for a battle, it requires strategic analysis.
Analyze the subjective and objective conditions of both sides, grasp the chances of victory, and make a feasibility judgment for this battle. The same is true for project design, the first step is a feasibility analysis.
The feasibility analysis can start from the following aspects:
- Survey the future use conditions of the equipment or production line. This includes the site terrain, topography, pre-installation space for the equipment, docking conditions with other existing equipment, surrounding transportation channels, installation construction conditions, and other details.
- Compare the original production process equipment and the proposed process plan. Initially, create a technical plan to implement the latest process equipment.
- If it is a completely new project requirement, and there is no similar full-function equipment on the market, then an innovative plan is needed. At this time, research can be conducted on equipment in the same or different industries that achieve partial functions, trying to transplant their structural processes and innovate to perfection, thus achieving the full functionality required by the project.
- The principle of feasibility plan planning is basically to prioritize existing market supplies or mature materials, parts, mechanisms, and processing technologies.
Step 2: Discussing and Confirming the Plan
After establishing a preliminary plan, we draft a blueprint and create a manual, inviting clients, users, and other stakeholders for discussion and confirmation. This stage primarily resolves the certainty of the technical plan, including equipment layout, structure, basic configuration methods, control, and operation.
The decisions generally lie with the equipment purchasers and operators. If a mechanical design engineer is involved, the finalized plan will be more authoritative. However, this stage often involves leaders who may not fully understand the equipment, which can pose some resistance to the discussion process.
It’s crucial to reach a consensus with these individuals to prevent potential risks like frequent changes and increased costs in the later stages.
Step 3: Refining the Plan and Beginning the Design Process According to Standards and Procedures
This stage involves executing the confirmed plan and drafting detailed blueprints. During the design refinement process, feasibility, various costs, including manufacturing, procurement, transportation, installation, debugging, electrical control, etc., must be fully considered.
Cost budgets and accounting should also be conducted and communicated with the project supervisor in a timely manner. It’s important to strive for a reasonable cost-performance ratio to avoid losses and ensure room for self-correction.
Step 4: Leading with Mechanical Design, Maintaining Communication with Electrical Designers, Software Engineers, and Other Technical Personnel
The worst thing during the design process is for the mechanical designer, who is responsible for the main equipment design, to work in isolation without actively communicating with the PLC electrical designer, software engineer, technicians familiar with machining technology, assembly debugging, and cost control leaders.
This could result in unreasonable part and equipment structure design, causing waste of time and energy in repeatedly modifying drawings, or difficulties in later installation and debugging, even leading to rework and scrapping.
This requires the mechanical designer to have higher knowledge, theory, insight, courage, and practical level than others, or at least be able to raise questions to seek help and support from others.
Hence, the main role in a project design is the mechanical design engineer, who is the “moon,” and others are the “stars.” Only when all stars surround the moon can a project team be structured reasonably.
However, in reality, the credit for a device’s normal operation is often taken by the electrical PLC control master, leading to unfair social status and remuneration distribution.
Having read through the mechanical design process, you too can become a qualified mechanical designer.
To all friends striving in the mechanical industry, keep honing your basic skills, continually study advanced domestic and international mechanical design technology, try to go to the production line as much as possible, visit various equipment exhibitions for research, broaden your horizons, assimilate and absorb the strengths of others, and continuously enhance your design level.
This will surely bring you the rewards you deserve.