Form, fit and function: Just a balancing game?

Form, fit and function: Just a balancing game?

Bringing a new product to market can be likened to that of a simple balancing game. There is a fine margin indeed between producing something that not only gives your customer everything they want but what a business can realistically and economically manufacture. This compromise of creating a product for you and I, namely the customer, is not something that is undertaken by one person or an isolated team, but by many knowledgeable.......... <continued>

New Product Development: Every day is not plain sailing

New Product Development: Every day is not plain sailing

I’m sure many of you will appreciate, that bringing a new product to the marketplace is quite a challenging process, with a number of obstacles to deal with along the way. These unknown elements which hit during the new product development (NPD) process is what prevents a large proportion of products ever being manufactured.

Turning a vision into a reality sounds easy doesn’t it? With a business case sewn up and your idea pitched to investors, then comes the really......... <continued>

Striving for Perfection: An Engineer’s Daily Goal

Striving for Perfection: An Engineer’s Daily Goal

Perfection, we all aim for it. But do you have to strive for it every day of your life? It can be quite tiring living as a mechanical design engineer, believe me.

Anyone who is an engineer, or who has to live with one, will understand it is not simply the case that you become an engineer, it is more like the career chooses you. It is a way of life and engineering embodies every aspect of your being and encompasses everything you do. For those of you who think the job simply comprises of......... <continued>

Job Vacancy: Project Manager (Software)

Job Vacancy: Project Manager (Software)

The Job Role: To provide effectively and efficiently project management capabilities and work with senior software engineers and product owners to develop the project plan and facilitate effective objective scheduling. Working and integrating effectively with client teams on and off site by employing flexible and focused working methods.
Reporting to: the ‘Managing Director' & client 'Technical Lead'.
Company Overview - Sanstec Design provides Design Engineering Business Solutions to a variety of Product Design, Product Development, Manufacturing and......... <continued>

Engineering with PCR Technology

Engineering with PCR Technology

A couple of years ago nobody, apart from those scientists, doctors and laboratory technicians in the medical world, would ever have heard of PCR technology. Nowadays, with the onset and presence of Covid 19, it is sadly one of those phrases we are constantly hearing both in the media and in general everyday conversations as we go about our daily business and chores. But in reality we all need to be very thankful that this technology has been developed and that we can be tested for Covid and indeed many other diseases......... <continued>

CAD Drawings: The Blueprints of Design

CAD Drawings: The Blueprints of Design

Computer-aided design (CAD) is a technical process by which an idea or invention is communicated and captured via computer software. Items all around you such as furniture, household appliances, your car, home, and even some jewellery, have all initially been laid out in CAD. These technical drawings, provide a visualisation of the concept, a so-called blueprint of the design.

But did you know that each part involves having its own drawing and therefore a complex product that contains numerous parts will therefore have roughly the......... <continued>

Push the button

Push the button

Upon hearing the popular Sugababes track “Push the Button” recently, and not being able to get the tune out of my head afterwards, led me to start thinking about buttons in general. A button can be used to fasten clothing, start something or used in language to describe how someone has evoked an emotion, usually irritation or anger. But that’s not all, in engineering a push button serves an important task.

Push-button engineering is a term used to describe an......... <continued>

Keep Clean to Carry On

Keep Clean to Carry On

As a design engineering company with expertise in the medical device sector, we understand there are many challenges ahead after we have provided our client with their CAD drawings for a product or component. Medical devices, given the function they perform, are naturally heavily regulated throughout the entire product life cycle. Thus any company brave enough to get involved in this area will have to jump through virtual hoops to keep everything spotlessly clean in order to carry on operating.

During the product development process......... <continued>

Tick Tock: Against the Clock

Tick Tock: Against the Clock

Don’t worry, the blog title hasn’t been misspelt. I am most definitely not about to reveal to you what’s in my latest TikTok. I’m simply finding, like many other engineers and non engineers, that there are presently not enough hours in the day and I’m mindful of the background tick, tick, tick of the analogue clock hanging on my office wall.

So yes I’m pretty busy at the moment, which is a good thing. I’m always appreciative that we have a number of clients who return to me again and again and......... <continued>

Client Selection: Small can be beautiful

Client Selection: Small can be beautiful

We’ve all heard the phrase good things come in small packages, but can the same be said of choosing the right b2b partner to work with? Well being the MD of a small design engineering business I can certainly endorse this concept wholeheartedly and for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, like any business, it is crucial that any SME like ours, keeps their good paying customers happy. It is as simple as that. In order to do this we, like many other smaller businesses, are able to focus more on pleasing our clients and if this means......... <continued>

CAD to CAM: Simple as ABC

CAD to CAM: Simple as ABC

For those engineers (and interested non engineers) out there, CAD and CAM, are a fundamental part of the wider development process when bringing a product from its conception to the manufacturing stage. The partnership between the two can be likened to that of Simon and Garfunkel or Cliff Richard and The Shadows, put simply, you couldn’t imagine one without the other if you are looking to bring a highly engineered product into mass production.

CAD for those of you who don’t know, is a 2D or 3D model......... <continued>

In the fast lane: The drive for alternative materials

In the fast lane: The drive for alternative materials

In the engineering world there has recently been a lot of activity and resources focused on sourcing alternative materials. This drive for new modern man made materials with improved properties stems from looking at how we can reduce waste and the damage already inflicted on our planet.

The term “clean manufacturing” is now being banded about and it is the present day challenge facing many of us. The real need to invest in innovation in materials is pressing ever harder as raw materials used for years and years, become harder to......... <continued>

On the Fence

On the Fence

Over the weekend I have been watching several of my neighbour’s cats walk along and numerous birds perch on, the fence enclosing my garden. It never fails to impress me that they never seem to fall off, despite looking a bit shaky from time to time. Almost like walking a tightrope, gingerly balancing, hoping not to land unceremoniously on one side or the other.

Being literally ‘on the fence’ is a funny saying when you begin to think more deeply about its real meaning. Being in between something unable or unwilling to......... <continued>

Behind the Mask

Behind the Mask

So who hasn’t been caught up in the recent ITV Saturday night family frenzy of shouting “take it off”? For those of you who have avoided the latest craze of The Masked Dancer and before that The Masked Singer will not have a clue as to what I’m referring to, but needless to say these are the type of shows that just make you want to sit down as a family and watch safe television together week after week.

The concept of pretending to be someone......... <continued>

The Sanstec Workshop: Can we fix it?

The Sanstec Workshop: Can we fix it?

Those of you who know me well and many more that have kindly spent some time reading my blogs, will have learnt that I am a lover of classic cars. At present I have a small collection that I am restoring in the Sanstec workshop, but my time spent working on these cars and fixing any problems surprisingly presents other solutions.

As we all know there has been a lot written and spoken about the state of the mental health of the population as a result of the pandemic. For me, personally, I have......... <continued>

Project Management: The Long Way Round?

Project Management: The Long Way Round?

As an engineer involved in complex design and development projects, I know how crucial it is to adhere to the numerous milestones and timelines set, thus doing everything in the right order. It might be tempting to take shortcuts but in reality, the long way round, is generally the preferred option.

Some of you may recall Ewan McGregor and his best pal Charley Boorman, set themselves a goal of riding their motorbikes around the world. Their epic motorcycle......... <continued>

Engineers, we’re all just curious cats, aren't we?

Engineers, we’re all just curious cats, aren't we?

When I was growing up I possessed a deep desire to generally know how things worked. The incessant questioning “why” as a child is still strong today as I work through more technical design and development mechanical engineering matters.

One definition of curiosity is "a desire to know” which certainly sounds familiar to me in my world of engineering. The premise that being inquisitive will hopefully lead to an understanding of how a thing works and therefore the ability to supply......... <continued>

Fly me to the Moon (and beyond…)

Fly me to the Moon (and beyond…)

The concept of flying anywhere at present is a delicate conversational subject matter to have with anyone. Questions such as “is it safe to book a holiday to foreign soils?”, or “is there a chance we might get there and the Covid status change whilst we are abroad?” These are the deliberations that many friends, family and colleagues are having at the moment. But in the area of aeronautical engineering, there seem to be no restrictions or boundaries certainly in terms of new ideas and innovations......... <continued>

Engineering with Lego: The building blocks of life

Engineering with Lego: The building blocks of life

Looking back at some old photos from my childhood I found myself reminiscing about that era and the activities and toys which kept me out of mischief … sometimes. My collection of Lego City kits, I’m a bit embarrassed to say, continued throughout adulthood until only recently I had to say please no more. I didn’t know it back then, but when I was enjoying being a child, I was an enthusiastic engineer in the making.

Getting back to my reflections and specifically how important........ <continued>

Inspiration: An Engineer’s Driving Force?

Inspiration: An Engineer’s Driving Force?

I was thinking the other day generally about innovation and new ideas. Where do they come from? What is the driving force behind new inventions and the next best thing?

Upon Googling the term “inspiration” many definitions appeared on screen but one in particular caught my attention and which in my view perfectly encapsulates it from a design engineering perspective. It read: “a sudden brilliant or timely idea”. When trying to adapt something to perform a task whilst at the Sanstec Design workshop I often have to........ <continued>

Rain Making: It’s raining again

Rain Making: It’s raining again

It’s raining again, I hear you say. It feels like it’s been non-stop raining for weeks now, surely it is time for our summer to start? In whatever business you are in, the art of rainmaking is very important, as it is the term generally used to describe the process of attracting new clients.

For most businesses, who don’t have a constant stream of repeat buyers waiting in the wings to spend their money, rainmaking or to coin another more common phrase, business development, holds the key to........ <continued>

Remote working: All by myself

Remote working: All by myself

No, I’m not sitting here humming or worse, for anyone within earshot, singing this famous 1975 track. I’m simply mulling over the benefits, for me personally, as a design engineer, of working remotely.

Love it or hate it remote working is here to stay for a while at least and yes I hear some of you have felt isolated, tucked away in a back bedroom, perhaps squashed between an old wardrobe and the spare bed for some time. I can appreciate that........ <continued>

Collaboration:  Working hand in hand?

Collaboration: Working hand in hand?

The principle or act of collaboration sounds so simplistic but in fact, for those of you who have experienced it, and I’m sure many of you would agree, that on occasions it can be quite the opposite. One of the dictionary definitions, (they all vary slightly), cite collaboration, as “the action of working with another person or groups of people to produce something”. This, essentially is what my job as an engineer is all about, but it’s not always that straightforward.

Working towards an end goal in design and development means you have to........ <continued>

Crisis - Rapid Technical Change

Crisis - Rapid Technical Change

During the pandemic crisis of what is now over a year long, there have been many life-changing events that dare I say, almost all of us, have had to face. These include for some the devastating news of the loss of loved ones and family members or friends and neighbours, people we knew well and who used to live next door. It’s something which many of us will probably never get over, not to mention adapt to the changes that this crisis brings.

We've heard lots and lots of advice about how we should........ <continued>

Coffee and Chat - Company

Coffee and Chat - Company

It's good getting together for a chat over a coffee (or tea, etc.), taking a moment or two to just try and find bit of space and time to interact with your work colleagues outside of the normal work related activities.

Obviously over the last year or so, the 'getting together' part has been problematical, or in fact essentially impossible, challenging us all to find other ways to keep in touch, often when we are all at at a considerable distance from each........ <continued>

Jump Start: Inspiration to get on with it!

Jump Start: Inspiration to get on with it!

Do you find occasionally that you need something to give you a bit of a jump start, or perhaps more often in fact, you need to find something to inspire you to 'get on' and do something? The jump start could of course be related to any number of things, including getting going in the morning, bringing the car back to life when the battery has gone flat or a moment to help you crystallise some ideas into motivating you. What source of inspiration helps you take action to get something resolved or perhaps encourages you to........ <continued>

Cruise Control: Driving within the speed limit

Cruise Control: Driving within the speed limit

Now that we are allowed to jump in our cars and go for a short ride, irrespective of whether or not it's an 'essential journey'!!, I expect many of you will have used the opportunity to get to visit some much missed family or friends in their gardens. In the past, and where necessary now, on longer journeys you will have been using your vehicle’s cruise control function whilst you travel to your destination. Did you actually know or may be surprised to hear that it works because of a 19th century engineering breakthrough........ <continued>

The Customer is King

The Customer is King

So after a very long shut down our High Street doors have finally been permitted to open and I’m sure many business owners will be anxious as to whether there will be any customers. In this world where we have been relying on cultivating virtual relationships, the fact remains that the customer is king and is indeed essential if businesses are to remain afloat.

We all understand the importance of placing the customer at the heart of our business, in terms of meeting and exceeding their needs and wants, but the buying........ <continued>

The MedTech Industry:  Reflections on the last 12 months

The MedTech Industry: Reflections on the last 12 months

So, it has been a little just over a year since our world was turned upside down and we were told to stay at home and not go out. Working in the MedTech industry, and therefore having a genuine interest in this sector has led me to reflect on what has been a really difficult 12 months since the first lock down and how developments have aided our near return to normality.

2020 could be said to have been a real game changer for the MedTech world. It was already generally accepted that the sector was steadily........ <continued>

Skills every mechanical engineer needs

Skills every mechanical engineer needs

It came to me the other day, when I chanced upon some online job descriptions for mechanical design engineers, and noticed quite rightly that there is a pattern of essential and desirable skills for these sort of roles. However in my 'small' engineering world, dare I say, I think they just might be missing a few.

I think we would all agree that the most basic skill a design engineer needs these days is the ability to use CAD software and have an appreciation of........ <continued>

Design and Development for your Customer's Customer

Design and Development for your Customer's Customer

So it’s official, we are in the middle of the 4th Industrial Revolution. An era of technical innovation in the areas of AI, AR and robotics to name but a few. It certainly is an exciting time to be involved in shaping the future, but it is still important not to lose sight who you are creating products for, namely the end users, buyers, or put more simply, humans.

Research and development or general innovation, helps drive the world forward at a rapid pace. During times like these the marketplace can become........ <continued>

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

Slightly reminiscent of the 'old days' of communication, typically you'd hear the call 'testing testing' down the wires and into your ear or perhaps through the speakers at an event just after the exciting bump, buzz and clonk of the 'mic' being plugged into the live amplifier before the performance starts or as an 'important' message was about to be given. Personally, with sensitive hearing and some sympathy for the electrical aspects involved in connecting up the equipment, that horrible hum/buzz/clonk sound used to make me really cringe, mixed with some anticipation that if the levels were set wrong, some hideous squeal of........ <continued>

Don't park on the pavement!

Don't park on the pavement!

I essentially understand that when people take what they think is some considered action to enable, protect or make something better, that they mostly are in fact trying to do it for the right reasons. The issue that I'm really referring to, is that without careful and thorough consideration, you can sometimes actually create more problems when you try and do something to address or avoid creating a problem, or when trying to make something safer.

The title identifies the fact that actually parking on....... <continued>

Waste Not Want Not

Waste Not Want Not

It's time to stop throwing everything away. Well, if you saw some of our workshop storage areas you'd very definitely question whether or not that was a good idea.

I'm not going to lie, we've got some clutter that's accumulated; materials, old projects, tools, general junk or appliances a selection of old computer stuff and hardware, packaging materials equipment and so on and on etc., including quite a few bits of 'we'd better keep that, just in case' stuff....... <continued>

Groundhog Day:  A Day in the Life of an Engineer during Lockdown

Groundhog Day: A Day in the Life of an Engineer during Lockdown

I’m sure it is not just me, but every day is now feeling like groundhog day: a cycle of the same things over and over. Of course I consider myself extremely fortunate not to be in the front line, but I can say with sincerity that lockdown 3 is most definitely taking its toll.

My typical day, as a design engineer, involves a variety of activities constantly keeping me occupied such as paperwork, general administration...... <continued>

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name?”, Juliet asks in Act II Scene 2 of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet. This quote led me to start thinking that in business it’s an interesting marketing concept, when building an overarching brand, we try to create a persona that clearly defines what we do and how we would like to be perceived.

I appreciate that a company name can be derived or created for a variety of reasons, but for me developing the name Sanstec came from...... <continued>

Will it blow? Passing the performance parameters

Will it blow? Passing the performance parameters

We've gone turbo-charged! Yes, I know we are in danger of catching up with technology at last; a relatively modern transport experience as opposed to all those old carburettor driven vehicles. What you may ask am I on about.

Well actually, it's not really our first turbo-charged vehicle, as we've had a Transit Connect 1.8TDCi for a few years (its currently for sale, so get in touch if you are interested) and it really isn't new technology anyway!...... <continued>

Made to measure

Made to measure

Well, not exactly, but you get the picture. If you read my last blog I was talking about the right tool for the job. How to or actually rather that you should know if, in your experience, you can identify the right tool and if not, be a bit tenacious and ask someone else and in some cases get them to both select and use the tool for you. Hey presto, less stress, job gets done properly.....result!

In that blog I mentioned make do and adapt, well guess what, only a week after writing that one, I've found myself actually needing to make a...... <continued>

M2021: A New Hope?

2021: A New Hope?

No, I’m not writing about another Star Wars sequel, but instead have been looking back over the last year of our Covid nightmare. Who would have thought the words lock down and social distancing would be part of our every day vocabulary and the wearing of a mask be mandatory just to pop to your local shop to buy groceries?

The distressing media images over the last 12 months has indeed taken its emotional and financial toll on everyone and now we are all anxiously asking, will 2021 be a year of...... <continued>

The right tool for the job

The right tool for the job

It may sound like a cliché and I was warned by my colleagues that the title of this blog may be 'misinterpreted'.… but you really do need 'the right tool to do the job'.

With a considerable amount of involvement to varying degrees with all sorts of mechanical design and development projects and engineering activities, we've proven on so many an occasion that you really do need to use the right tool to do the job.

With some fascination, I often have to search through the...... <continued>

Value Engineering: A price worth paying?

Value Engineering: A price worth paying?

As part of the product development process, value engineering (or value analysis) is used to carry out a systematic and organised approach in assessing the function of a product or component against the cost to manufacture it. The overall aim being to achieve the same outcome but at a reduced financial outlay.

This process is strategically used to improve the value of a product and can help by cutting design and manufacturing time, and eliminating unnecessary...... <continued>

The 'quotation' process, an exact science or guess work?

The 'quotation' process, an exact science or guess work?

"I guess it'll be about that much"...."It'll probably take about that long"...."Well, we could probably do it for about that much"....."We might be able to squeeze it in for that amount"...."I need you to ping me over a quick cost to do that"....."A rough estimate will be fine, get it to me as soon as you can."
If you've heard any of the above and/or they sound familiar, then be warned and be wary, or at least anticipate some issues, or at worst a potentially...... <continued>

Christmas 2020

The 12 Days of Christmas at Sanstec

 

The 12 Days of Christmas at Sanstec

 

We all acknowledge that 2020 has been tough for everyone, so as we get ready to celebrate Christmas under the guise of the new normal, we thought we would provide some source of virtual cheer by creating our own Sanstec version of the 12 Days of Christmas…. <continued>

Christmas 2020

Once upon a time: The story of product development

Once upon a time: The story of product development

Is it just me, or does anyone else think of product development as telling a story? Each idea has a beginning, middle and end. The theme might be too fantastic or boring, or worse takes a turn into horror or comedy, but nonetheless, if a component or product could talk, it would definitely have a good story to tell.

How a product began, from the spark of an idea to how ideas were generated and a visual creation assembled, its journey to market, including changes to..... <continued>

Fitness for purpose

Fitness for purpose

Being an orientated creative and technical company, we come across, that's to say use, see, observe and experience a real variety of 'products' that perform some sort of function, to help you to do something or simply make something easier to do. We particularly view and critique the aspects of the design, production and 'implementation' of these products from a professional and personal perspective.

Perhaps a good example or analogy would be the humble desktop..... <continued>

We’ve got this….

We’ve got this….

So here we are again amidst another national lockdown. 2020 most definitely has been a tough year both from a business and personal perspective for me and I’m sure for everyone who is taking the time to read my humble blog posts.

Like most people I am trying to come to terms with the loss all those things I took for granted a few months back, like going out, catching up with friends or family and visiting my local gym. Who would have thought these so-called simple things would be..... <continued>

Lest we forget

Lest we forget

I've been reflecting a lot this week on how the country is experiencing a much changed set of Remembrance Day commemorations, observing that there has been a considerable amount of effort to mark the occasion in the most appropriate way, given the current circumstances and the restrictions we must all apply to aspects of our lives.

The poem "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon, is an emotional and powerful reminder that millions of service people have given their lives for us in the ultimate sacrifice..... <continued>

Getting creative

Getting creative

With the current situation forcing each and every one of us to make changes to our personal and professional lives, it has led me to start thinking about the extent to which businesses have had to get creative to keep within the law and at the same time, try and stay afloat.

These recent times have had far reaching consequences. Not only have we all had to get to grips with remote working and maintaining communication between the geographically separated decision making unit (DMU), but companies have ..... <continued>

Why CAD and CAE go hand in hand

Why CAD and CAE go hand in hand

Have you ever thought why a number of things get grouped together in pairs such as pen and paper, cats and dogs, or song and dance for example? In the world of engineering, things aren't really so different. You may be relieved to hear that I don’t have any songs for you, but instead want to talk about another partnership, that is considered to be an important part of the manufacturing cycle.

Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) ..... <continued>

The Future of Engineering

Workshop Wonders

While the weather has since said goodbye to the scorching summer heat and hello to more cooler autumnal rain, I have been busy working on a number of projects in the Sanstec workshop.

Those of you who know me will acknowledge that I have a long-standing passion for classic cars and have recently been working on a number of vehicles. As most of you will appreciate, with older cars replacing the broken, rusted or decayed parts becomes more difficult, in fact sometimes impossible, to physically buy off the shelf from ..... <continued>

The Future of Engineering

The Future of Engineering

Amidst the current global pandemic, with its own health and economic issues affecting each and every one of us in one way or another is a message of hope and ambition. You would be hard pressed to sidestep the news about the global climate crisis, but is there a way that engineering can be used to create a cleaner and greener, better world?

The big thing that caught my attention recently in the news is the collaboration between Prince William and Sir David Attenborough. Named the ..... <continued>

Engineering:  Expectations vs. Reality

Engineering:  Expectations vs. Reality

Inventions have the ability to change the way we live our lives, but sometimes they simply fail to impress and fall by the wayside, perhaps because the product falls short of performance expectations, or because it wasn’t properly thought through in the first place. Who would have thought the World Wide Web could have dramatically changed how we all behave and communicate with one another, every day.

Most engineers would agree that new product development isn’t ..... <continued>

3 reasons we keep different CAD software

3 reasons we keep different CAD software

As a design engineering business we make no secret that we utilise and maintain three leading CAD systems. Although there are a number of other choices out there as well, we made a strategic decision some time ago to specifically focus on Creo, Solidworks and Inventor, as they seemed to be the ones our clients were, and still are, using for design and development in '3D'.

It’s an obvious statement really, but our clients’ needs are at the forefront of everything we do. By keeping three different CAD systems within Sanstec and ..... <continued>

Sanstec welcomes new key team member

Sanstec welcomes new key team member

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Kaye Hewitt has made the momentous decision to come and join Sanstec as our new Finance and Administration Manager.
We would very much like to welcome Kaye into the core management team.  She brings with her a wealth of experience in finance, administration, sales and marketing, to mention just a few of her skills.

Sanstec’s Managing Director, Alastair Sanderson, says ..... <continued>

Propeller: Diameter & Pitch?

Propeller: Diameter and Pitch?

We're working hard in the Sanstec workshop at the moment on various internal projects relating to our interests, technical exposure and engineering know how. In amongst these are a number of ongoing marine and general boating commitments, some of which have meant that we have both deliberately and inadvertently, in some cases, accumulated a reasonably large selection of 'unwanted' hardware (more about that later in some upcoming content).

Whilst sorting through a box of inboard marine engine bits the other day that we are clearing out, one item particularly caught my ..... <continued>

Weathering the storm

Weathering the storm

With all the bad storms of late, it certainly has the feeling that autumn has arrived and the heat of the summer sun has now left us for another year. With the emergence of September just round the corner and the return to school for our children, like many other parents we are looking forward to the new academic year both with relief and anxiety. It seems unreal that after nearly six months of home schooling, we can now focus on our own tasks, jobs, careers and businesses.

This new reality we are all living in means we have to reset our expectations. I’m sure I’m like many others out there ..... <continued>

How to grow an idea

How to grow an idea

All the hours at home recently and spending more time in my garden than usual, has led me to think about the parallels between the growing process of a plant and that of a new business idea or invention. Both take an awful lot of work, in terms of time and energy. In addition, if you don’t plant them in the right location, then neither will flourish.

In design and development the engineering  design stage focuses on how to grow an idea from the basic seed that someone has planted. The sowing of the ..... <continued>

Plastic Part Design: Precise and Perfect

Plastic Part Design: Precise and Perfect

Designing a new tool for injection moulding is a highly technical and complex task dealing with precision and tight dimensions. Accuracy is crucial, and engineers are therefore, generally aiming to be as precise and perfect as possible, like hitting a bull’s-eye in darts or other similar arrow sports.

Injection moulding is a popular method in product or component production. Once you are passed the high set up costs, it becomes a very ..... <continued>

Let’s Shake on It

Let’s Shake on It

It is a truth universally acknowledged that in business a handshake is a symbol of agreement. Who would have thought a few months ago that we are now in a situation where that is no longer possible? In this new arena where meetings are undertaken virtually and socially distanced face to face meetings are kept to a minimum, how are business managers sealing the deal?

As a design engineering business, like many others out there who rely on a steady stream of project work, it is essential that when ..... <continued>

Material Choice:  An Engineering Chocolate Selection Box?

Material Choice: An Engineering Chocolate Selection Box?

One of the tasks of a design engineer is to identify the best material for a product or component. It is, quite rightly, generally agreed to be an important part of the engineering design process because if you make the wrong choice it can lead to failure, which is a costly result for all involved.

Likewise it is generally acknowledged that if a material selection procedure is not in place, it can impact on the design and consequently render it unsuccessful. For those of you who think it might be a bit like dipping in to a well known Christmas chocolate box, where ..... <continued>

One Direction: Pathway to Success

One Direction: Pathway to Success

As you begin to read this blog I need to make it clear that I’m not going to be talking about the success of the famous pop group One Direction, but a useful planning technique crucial to aid the completion of complex engineering projects.

Familiar to many people, I’m sure, the critical path method is a systematic approach which defines goals and plots activities along a timeline with the aim of logging the progress of all project activities and accomplishments. For cross departmental and ..... <continued>

Heading in reverse?

Heading in reverse?

Going backwards to solve a question might be considered a strange approach, but as an engineer methodically going into reverse can actually be a good route to unpicking and finding some answers.

Reverse engineering, or sometimes known as back engineering, is a process by which a product or individual component is deconstructed. By working backwards an engineer is able to determine several things such as, how a component was ..... <continued>

Give us a bell

Give us a bell

How many times have you heard the slang “give us a bell” used? Of course, this phrase refers to Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone and a request for someone to make a phone call. Nowadays, we are more accustomed to sending emails or texts, rather than actually speaking with an individual over a telephone, but the patent struggle Bell went through, could still be relevant now, 150 years later.

Best known for his invention of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell ..... <continued>

Open all hours?

Open all hours?

As some businesses are given the green light by the government to open their doors, they are faced with the hard task of having to review processes and systems, so that customers can be welcomed back.

It’s certainly a difficult time for business owners frantically adapting to these changes, implementing high level health and safety standards, such as making changes to an office or shop layout, creating a one-way system, or adding ..... <continued>

Going around in circles

Going around in circles

Ever get the feeling you’re just going around in circles? Sometimes life can feel a bit like that, can’t it? If you look hard enough, you’ll see that circles are everywhere, from the shape of our planet to my humble, but very important, daily coffee cup.

Even in nature, circles exist. I was watching a recent episode of BBC’s Springwatch the other day and there was an interesting piece about newts living in our garden ponds and the life cycle of these species in general. Bizarrely, in an instant, my ..... <continued>

To boldly go.....

To boldly go.....

We never know what’s round the next corner, the big new idea, scientific breakthrough or invention. That’s why is so exciting to be an engineer as you are always looking forward to the future, in anticipation of what’s coming next.

In terms of space exploration there’s been a lot of build up in relation to entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company SpaceX. Who would have thought that since we first stepped on the moon in 1969 that it would be 50 years later before excitement in ..... <continued>

A Brave New World?

A Brave New World?

You only have to turn on the television or tune in to the radio to hear someone talking about having to make changes in order to live in today’s world of the new normal. The creation of ‘think tanks’ for this and that Governmental department has become a usual part of the Downing Street daily updates.

As a design engineer I’m used to working together with our clients to bring a new product to market, whether this may be a completely new ..... <continued>

Ready to ride the next wave

Ready to ride the next wave

So things have moved on and some of us are going out a bit more than we were a few weeks back. We’re still open for business, that hasn’t changed, although the new Sanstec working day looks a bit different now.

We’re still continuing to service our clients by working remotely and holding virtual meetings to talk through technical design and engineering issues or questions. Our regular team meetings are now undertaken using Skype, as we feel it’s ..... <continued>

How to ‘Engineer’ an answer

How to ‘Engineer’ an answer

Something caught my eye the other day and made me think about what it means to be an engineer. Yes, it’s someone to invent, design, build and analyse products and components, but what actually makes us engineers tick?

According to Wikipedia the word ‘engineer’ is derived from the Latin ingeniare (“to create, generate, contrive, devise”) and ingenium (“cleverness”). Setting aside the latter definition “cleverness”, which is a sweeping statement and doesn’t ..... <continued>

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Will anything be the same again?

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Will anything be the same again?

On hearing one of David Bowie’s best known songs on the radio the other day, I started to reflect on the lyrics and how they could be interpreted now in this current crisis.

At the time Bowie wrote this track, which was first released in 1971 on his album Hunky Dory, it was said the lyrics were meant to reflect his own self reinvention of both his personality and music style. In terms of the here and now, we are all doing a lot of reinvention, making changes to the way we live and ..... <continued>

Resilience: The New Buzzword

Engineering a positive mental attitude

As a design engineer we are expected to solve technical problems for colleagues and clients. We are naturally asked questions on a daily basis, which uses our creative engineering skills to fix things, and sometimes we have to dig deeper than usual to find an answer.

Fortunately as we are geared up for remote working, we are thankfully still in a strong position to service our clients with providing design engineering support using, although not limited to, CREO and Solidworks software. As such we were recently able to ..... <continued>

Resilience: The New Buzzword

Resilience: The New Buzzword

So, as the lock down progresses, we find ourselves having to dig deep to adapt and deal with our current situation in our own way. Like many others, I realise that this is a small part to play in comparison with those who are facing this virus on the front line.

While many of us are weathering the storm at home, waiting anxiously to hear that the tide has turned, outdoors nature is still moving on. Whilst I was out on my daily walk the other day, it became apparent that with the demise of ..... <continued>

Not Going Out: The New Normal

Not Going Out: The New Normal

Before the recent crisis, you might have thought I was making reference to the TV hit show which shares the same name as this blog. The “new normal”, who would have thought a few weeks back we would be told to stay home and not go out, unless for emergencies or one session of daily exercise?

Whilst we’re still all trying to get used to living in isolation and coping with new routines, just trying to get by day to day, can be a ..... <continued>

Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3

Adapting in a Changing World

Over the last couple of weeks all our lives have been turned upside down, and we are now trying our best to adapt to new routines and daily schedules. So, how has your life changed? From visiting the gym and ‘going’ out to work, the Sanstec team, like many others, have started to exercise and work from home. To keep motivated we’ve dusted off our home gym equipment and to aid relaxation and promote a positive mind set, have been ..... <continued>

 

Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3

Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3

Whilst practising social distancing, like so many of the UK population and indeed people across the globe, I have found myself not dwelling on the negative side of the current situation, which is all too easy to do so, but focusing on the positives.

A song came on the radio recently and immediately I was transported back to 1977, our Queen’s Silver Jubilee year, when Ian Dury and the Blockheads released their famous track ..... <continued>

 

Social distancing: Is anybody out there?

Social distancing: Is anybody out there?

As more and more of us are told to work from home and our schools close, we find ourselves embarking on a new journey, one that will involve keeping a virtual conversation flowing.

With all the daily comments on social media concerning the mental health of the nation as a result of social distancing, despite all the isolation and anxiety over the whole situation, it is necessary to stay productive and keep the wheels of manufacturing in motion, so to speak.

As an SME it’s more important than ever to stay ..... <continued>

Keep calm and engineer on

Keep calm and engineer on

With all the sobering news in the media at the moment, it really is important to try and ‘keep calm and carry on’. That said it is far too easy to get caught up in the negative side of all of the situations surrounding this virus. I for one have been really heartened at the amount of kindness being shown by a lot of people. This has indeed helped me to keep grounded, reminding me that the amazing part of mankind is that it continually evolves to adapt and overcome.

At Sanstec, probably over the last ten years or so, we have ..... <continued>

Making your mind up

Making your mind up

I noticed Graham Norton on TV the other day speaking about our 'song for Europe’, which got me thinking about Eurovision in general and how long ago it was since we last won. The concept of winning in the Eurovision Song Contest is all down to lots of individual choices being made.

This then led me to start thinking about the choices manufacturing businesses have to make when selecting a product design partner and whether the old saying 'people buy from people' still holds true ..... <continued>

Under the microscope

Under the microscope

Providing our design engineering services as we do, we expect to be closely 'studied' by whomever is paying us to ensure that we are doing what we are being asked and keeping up with deadlines. It is a natural part of the job of a design engineer to experience critical examination and have everything you do put under the microscope, so to speak.

Working as we do and coping with lots of data, thankfully with the aid of CAD technology, which is developing all the time, it helps me and ..... <continued>

Right place, right time: Putting yourself out there

Right place, right time: Putting yourself out there

In business it’s generally acknowledged that in order to bring in work you have to get out there, in the big wide world.

The out there can take many forms, such as networking events early doors with a coffee and croissant, attending trade shows and events, or catch ups over lunch with business associates.

I think we all recognise that in order to put your best foot forward you have to be in a particular mindset, positive that you can ..... <continued>

Back to the drawing board

Back to the drawing board

Before recent technical developments any new product or invention would have to be hand drawn on paper using a drawing board. Equipped with a pencil, eraser, ruler, set square and any other tools, the time consuming task would be to set about creating an accurate design blueprint.

For design engineers operating in this era, the process could be hampered even further if the design needed changing, so back to the drawing board they would go to start over. It’s not surprising then that around the mid-20th ..... <continued>

Creating the wheel

Creating the wheel

It is generally acknowledged that not one person was attributed with having the original idea for the wheel, but was an invention developed over a period of time. It is hard to imagine life without it now, although the design has evolved, having been adapted to serve different needs.

This concept got me thinking generally about the engineering design process, which has similarities with this process. Like the creation of the wheel, with design engineering, there are a series of steps to follow in order to create an end product that functions to serve a designated purpose for the ..... <continued>

Collaborative Working: The Team Approach

Collaborative Working: The Team Approach

We’re all familiar with the old saying that “two heads are better than one”, but in product development it is a common fact.

Product development can be a complex process. Take medical device development for example, bringing a new product to market not only can take years, but lots of expertise often from a number of companies to deal with the complicated process of clinical trials, risk management, patents and countless ..... <continued>

The Rocket:  The fastest locomotive engine in the North

The Rocket: The fastest locomotive engine in the North

Delving back through the history of British inventors, I was fascinated to read about George Stevenson, an engineer, and inventor made famous by his invention of the railroad locomotive.

Nicknamed ‘The Father of Railways’ [Source] he was a pioneering engineer who liked to fix things as a child, but it was probably his success with his engine, the Rocket, which he is best known for. There are many parallels with his determination to design and engineer the fastest locomotive than any of his rivals, with present day ..... <continued>

The importance of knowing what you've got

The importance of knowing what you've got

Having had a bit of a break over the Christmas holiday and spending some downtime with family and friends, as well as having space to think and reflect on the last year and the one to come, can give you an opportunity to get some perspective on things.

Seems an obvious thing to say really, but it's important to actually reflect on what you've got, acknowledge and appreciate the relationships and material things that are right there in front of you and which you often ..... <continued>

2020 vision: looking ahead with curiosity

2020 vision: looking ahead with curiosity

As a creative design engineer and inventor I’m excited to read in the news and trade publications, numerous articles concerning new inventions, technologies and ideas for 2020.

As we say goodbye to 2019 I’m genuinely curious to see what the New Year will bring. It’s certainly a good time to be involved with engineering and innovation in general. There are many new products and processes that are being designed to save both energy and resources, which is reassuring given the ..... <continued>

It’s not rocket science

‘Tis the Season to be jolly: The Story of the Christmas Card

I was participating in a quiz the other day and was fascinated to learn the origins of the first Christmas card. This got me thinking about how times have changed. Nowadays we are used to receiving Christmas greetings in a variety of formats, both print and electronic, to pass on traditional wishes, but look back c.150 years and things were rather different.

Henry Cole was the inventor of the first Christmas card, which he sent in 1843. He was another Victorian who was considered ..... <continued>

It’s not rocket science

It’s not rocket science

Providing good customer service is not rocket science. It’s all about listening to customers’ needs and wants, meeting deadlines and expectations.

Once you enter into a relationship with a client you are promising to deliver these basic needs. Of course like many suppliers we are constantly looking at ways where we don’t simply deliver, but exceed expectations and provide the ..... <continued>

Putting the pieces of the puzzle together

Putting the pieces of the puzzle together

Once you have created your idea or concept, and how you move on will depend on the size of your business, such as a big brand manufacture, a medium size company or consultancy, seed or start up organisation. How you begin to take your idea forward and start putting the pieces of the puzzle together will differ for each product type and cycle.

There is an awful lot to consider. Aside from the general engineering assistance in terms of CAD or product development support to aid you through the ..... <continued>

We’re not all robots

We’re not all robots

With all the recent technical developments in robotics, AI and AR lately, it is easy to get carried away into a futuristic world where we all retreat from doing what we do best, communicating face to face with one another. Those that know me well, appreciate that I like nothing better than having a business meeting over a coffee. So why continue to act in this way?

We all know that time is short, but if we cut out the process of meeting and talking a problem through, we may miss out on finding that solution to ..... <continued>

That light bulb moment

That light bulb moment

Working as a design engineer and being involved in the creation of new products, I have naturally been doing a lot of thinking lately regarding the relentless pressure to invent the next best thing. I have found myself looking back at some famous inventors, pondering on their new ideas of the day and how they created that light bulb moment.

Taking the light bulb into consideration, it is interesting to read the history of the two inventors Thomas Edison of the USA and ..... <continued>

Positive, Pro-Active and Strategic

Positive, Pro-Active and Strategic

There's a lot of doom and gloom about at the moment, to say the least. Some of the recent news articles, political tensions, economic issues, reports on climate change and general 'pointing the finger of blame' are not exactly inspiring, positive or very re-assuring at all, never mind the fact that some of the news is quite frankly downright shocking.

We could of course comment on the various situations in more detail, give our opinions and express our concerns, but we don't think that would ..... <continued>

Design Validation

Medical Devices: Design and Development Validation

Well, what a busy few weeks we've had, I've genuinely been rushed off my feet whilst we transition between previous commitments and a substantial new assignment with a long term medical devices design and development consultancy client of ours.

It's been particularly good to be back working with some old colleagues, (older in years as well), re-kindling some great working relationships, and developing some new ones in a place that we are relatively ..... <continued>

Face to face

Face to Face: A short interview with Alastair Sanderson

We all know that in the business to business environment people tend to buy from people with whom they form a connection with, lots of the reasons why we work hard to try and build quality relationships with our clients.  This got me thinking that maybe I should allow myself to be interviewed, over a coffee naturally, so you can all learn a little more about me.  Who knows, you may read something that resonates within your own life.

Q: Where did your love of all things engineering begin? ..... <continued>

Sugary Treat Friday

Sugary Treat Friday: Time to say thank you

It's always a bit of challenge when it’s time to leave one project and move on to the next. You say goodbye and farewell, thinking about the next project that's already started to consume some of your thinking time, still wondering how things really went on the one you're leaving, but also what challenges the next engagement will bring.

To sweeten (literally) the departing/leaving/finishing experience and particularly in acknowledgement of the effort that your client’s 'people' have ..... <continued>

Tank Driving

Tank Driving: "mind your head"

I was in Leicestershire over the weekend as part of a gift generously bought for me by my family. Husbands Bosworth to be precise, because that's where you can get an opportunity to drive around some fields in a FV432 Armoured Personnel Carrier, in this case fitted with a L7 GPMG (de-activated of course).

Thanks to Armourgeddon and particularly Joe who was my instructor for the session on Sunday morning, navigating me, (as commander of the tank), as we ..... <continued>

Engineering Change Control

Engineering Change Control - an important process

Over the last couple of months we have been working hard, utilising PTC's Windchill and CREO 5, to help our client complete a number of important changes and updates to their products, to reflect the various engineering changes that are required.

The 'process', generally known as Engineering Change Control, is the overall method of ensuring that an existing product is kept up to date with the best engineering specification that the manufacturer can achieve. Relating to safety and ..... <continued>

1968 Austin Pickup

Classic Car extreme recovery - Part 2

Classic Car extreme recovery - Part 2 and counting.....

After our recent blog about our sister company, Sanstec Garden, asking for us to help it to extricate a 1968 Austin Pickup from a customer’s garden, as it very much appeared that it would need some sort of engineered solution to effect a recovery, we had quite a lot of feedback. So, following receipt of these interesting comments and general curiosity on the subject, we thought we ought to provide a little bit of an update on the progress we've made so far ..... <continued>

When one door closes

When one door closes another one often opens

Stay positive…when one door closes another one often opens……..

Providing our design engineering services directly to our clients as a company, means we need to be ready and ‘available' to work. This of course is a real challenge and one we constantly face month to month and sometimes even on a day to day basis. I’d love to tell you that we always get it right…….. but of course that wouldn’t be true, with circumstances sometimes completely changing after just one phone call and ..... <continued>

Outsource

To keep in-house or outsource

How does your organisation procure your support services?

A company/business is an 'organisation', so defined because it's an organised set of constituent parts that form/co-operate/function together to perform the intended core/primary tasks which are the reason for the business in the first place.

By the nature of the fact that the company/business is an organisation, whether it's directly or indirectly, it will need several support services which are ..... <continued>

Classic Car extreme recovery

An Interesting Engineering solution

Classic Car extreme recovery

An interesting engineering challenge, requiring a lot of diversified problem solving, was recently presented to us by our sister company, Sanstec Garden, after a client asked them to help out in resolving a particularly sensitive and potentially destructive situation.

Well not really a case of some cataclysmic event, but rather a very awkward and particularly fragile object that was hindering progress on the maintenance and ..... <continued>

Version management

From PDM to PLM - Business and Process Improvement

We're off to the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull on Thursday next week to spend time learning more about Business & Process Improvement, by transitioning from PDM to PLM. Thanks to Concurrent Engineering, who are hosting the session, there's free registration and parking, plus we get treated to a buffet breakfast and coffee.

Knowing that it's organised by Concurrent, we are expecting an informative and productive time and it will be really useful to hear from ..... <continued>

Version management

Multiple CAD Platforms and Version management

Working alongside a variety of clients means that we need to keep our design engineering software up to date and aligned to the various new releases. We spend a lot of time working on establishing the capability within the latest version and essentially exercising its capability in relation to the previous version. Having more than one CAD system, which includes, CREO, Solidworks and Inventor, ensures that we are kept very busy updating and understanding the changes in the individual ..... <continued>

Developing vehicle technologies

Developing vehicle technologies: creating better drivers?

I need radar; or rather my car does, so I can look ahead beyond what I can physically see. What I'm actually saying is my vehicle needs some way of helping me to make better driving decisions in a simple way and less complex than perhaps a fully autonomous response, some way of warning me that what I am about to do is hazardous.

After another recent delay (and subsequent cancellation) getting to an appointment, I'm confronted yet again by the conclusion that people are ..... <continued>

User experience

'The continued decline' of UK Manufacturing

Is there a perception that there is a ‘continued decline’ of UK manufacturing and is it true?

Following a recent announcement in the press that a company with production facilities in Suffolk are 'having' to re-locate their operations outside the UK for 'economic reasons', we decided to conduct a quick bit of research into whether or not we could identify whether this was actually a general trend for manufacturing-based companies. Just in simple terms and trying to remain objective, to provide a bit of an overview of the ..... <continued>

User experience

The User Experience - 'UX' anyone?

It sort of baffles 'us' slightly, well a lot actually, that more manufacturers aren't, shall we say, a little more 'user centric' (to use some of the relevant terminology), during the design and development process. After all a product is really an experience to the user and only a 'product' to the 'someone' who makes it. We're not saying that all manufacturers have no UX focus as such, we're just saying that sometimes when you 'have an experience' with a product, you might wonder if the design of it could have been a little ..... <continued>

Factory

'UK Manufacturing' under pressure....

Overcoming the challenges of 'NPD' outside the UK.

I was concerned and saddened to read in the news at the beginning of the week that BOSCH Lawn & Garden in Suffolk have decided to close their UK manufacturing facility based in Stowmarket, as production is being re-located to the Power Tools plant in Miskolc, Hungary in Eastern Europe. Our thoughts and feelings go out to those families that will be affected, the local businesses and community as a whole. There is some good news though, as the ..... <continued>

Automechanika

Automechanika: We’ll see you there....

We're looking forward to attending the Automechanika trade fair which is held at the NEC between the 4th and 6th June.

This will be our first time at an Automechanika event and leads on from our previous involvement in the general automotive sector with client projects completed on motorbikes, remote control systems, UAV transportation support, autonomous robots and robotics for products in manufacturing. We've worked on various design and development of ..... <continued>

Triumph Daytona

'A' Class Surfacing - Triumph Daytona 'bodywork'

When I was out and about the other day, I found myself admiring some motorbikes parked along the High Street in Colchester and realised I'd become distracted by the design of the different models. I was particularly interested in the similarities and differences of the design and branding for the different manufacturers.

Anyway, that got me thinking about some work undertaken quite a long time ago - nearly 20 years in fact - we had previously done for a consultancy that worked for ..... <continued>

Majenta Solutions

Majenta sells Autodesk division to Symetri

CAD Reseller Developments: Symetri acquires Majenta Solutions's Autodesk Division.

Early April we received the news that Majenta Solutions has sold its Autodesk Division to Symetri. With the general busyness of the last few weeks, it's taken me a while to research and digest this news to see how it might affect us as a company and perhaps the industry in general.

Majenta Solutions has supported our use of Autodesk products, in our Product Design Suite Premium package, following its acquisition of ..... <continued>

Sanstec sign

New Sanstec external signage designed and commissioned

For some time now, we have had a lack of 'proper' external signage at our workshop in Colchester, which has caused a bit of confusion experienced by visitors and delivery drivers alike.

One of the reasons for the delay in getting something arranged was that we couldn't decide whether or not we liked what was on offer for the cost. Being a creative and a rather particular design company caused us to procrastinate for quite a while. In the end, we took it upon ourselves to design a new main workshop sign in-house. After looking at a few examples ..... <continued>

CREO 6.0 now available

Keeping up with CAD: CREO 6.0 now available

Thanks to PTC and our active maintenance package through Concurrent Engineering, Sanstec Design gets all the latest updates and product communication notifications as soon as PTC releases them.

We're particularly interested to see that CREO 6.0 is now available and can be downloaded etc through the normal channels. We'll be going ahead shortly, with downloading and installing our own copy, so that we can start to get familiar with the latest ..... <continued>

CREO Simulation

Brief Review on CREO Simulation Live

We recently attended a couple of webinars (5th February 2019 - thanks to Root Solutions and to PTC for inviting us and hosting them), about the functionality in the recently released 'Creo Simulation Live' from PTC.

This new 'product' has been fairly well hyped in the industry during its general release, so I'm sure you'll already know it has updated functionality which is powered by ANSYS that allows you to get "real-time feedback on your design decisions ..... <continued>

Component Rationalisation

Component Rationalisation

Whilst undertaking routine grounds maintenance at our workshop recently, our Viking petrol lawnmower had an unfortunate 'coming together' with a 'stray bit of concrete', which took a 'chunk' out of the blade and shattered the bottom of the aluminium blade carrying bush.

On repairing the lawn mower, (thanks to Ernest Doe in Colchester for supplying the part), we noticed that the original blade bush assembly of 4 parts, consisting of an aluminium cast bush, a plastic pulley and two screws, had been  ..... <continued>