Susie B. 7/23/2021
Product Launch from an Engineering Perspective
Very few people actually to work at their dream job. Sometimes there are a few lucky chaps to get a job in the industry or field they studied. We consider ourselves apart of the lucky few here at Cali Raised LED, where the teamwork and motivation to make great products and memorable adventures come to life. For the past few months our engineer, Chris Pelley, has been working diligently behind the scenes to bring this new trail armor for market. Skid Plates - to be exact. One of the much needed and, due to its location on the vehicle, sometimes underrated accessories for off-roading and overlanding.
We had the chance to sit down with Chris and talk about what that process was like from a few different perspectives.
What did the engineering of this product look like in comparison to other products you've made in the past?
This project was unique compared to some of our other projects because there were 5 different products that needed to work independently of each other, while also working in synchronized form as well. The design process started out as a collaborative effort between each product and the rough designs were all made together. After the rough designs of each product were made, each product was then worked independently to refine the design. We also needed to ensure each product functions properly and develop the manufacturing of each individual item. When design changes were made, it was also a challenge to make sure those overlapping areas with other products were adjusted as well for a perfect fitment.
Can you identify any particular challenges or lessons learned that you'll take with you to your next project?
This design project was a huge success, as I was able to apply other lessons learned from previous product lines (roof racks) and apply the new philosophies here. Working all the products simultaneously in a rough form helped eliminated wasted time later when changes needed to be made. Also, lessons learned previously about tracking revisions and changes really helped keep track of what areas of the products overlapped. I was able to make changes to parts and have notes about why those changes were made and what other products were affected by those changes, which was tremendously helpful in getting to products designed much faster than we had previously.
From a business perspective, as a leader and entrepreneur, what challenges or lessons did you face and or learn when getting these ready for the market? Especially considering the sourcing issues everyone is facing in manufacturing right now.
This product line had two areas that were challenging. The first was learning as an organization new material types, and the second was the material shortages. Starting with learning, we introduced many new processes to our team. Most of the products we make are from mild steel. We are offering these products in ¼” aluminum as well. This required new tooling on our equipment, also new machines, and process in the welding department. New tooling and machinery always have learning curves that need to be accounted for, and team members always need time to learn and refine themselves as well. As an entrepreneur, these variables need to be measured and part of the calculation for return on investment, timelines, manpower and more.
Just like a lot of the industry, we have also been affected by rising material prices and scarcity. As a business owner, these areas need to be understood and accounted for when launching a new product lines in these turbulent times. This is where positive relationships with vendors, having a good network, and building relationships with other businesses can really help. We have a great team of suppliers that have been able to keep us supplied with the new material types we needed and to get them in a timely manner. We also had to try to maximize our testing in the digital space as much as possible to try and avoid wasting the precious and expensive material while we try to ensure we can manufacture these products in a profitable way.
What are you most proud of in completing this product line?
I personally love the way all the products integrate together. These products have over 25 different individually manufactured parts (not including hardware) that combine to make these 5 products. While it is not the most complex assembly we make; it is always exciting to design and refine this many items and see them come together in a harmonious way that function very well together.
Our community is eager for new products, what are you looking forward to making next?
These questions are always tough to answer because we like to try and keep our new products, we have in development private while we work through the early stages of design and planning. Our next product lines will continue to be larger heavier products that require many different parts to create one assembly. I really enjoy making complex assemblies that require many different manufactured parts to come together into one functional unit. I am looking forward to continuing to do complex work and assemblies.
Needless to say, we are immensely proud of this particular project. We can't wait to see your photos and videos, and hear the stories about how these performed for you.
Interested in checking them out? Follow the shop now below to see what the hype is all about.