Expertise | Product Engineering

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Product engineering is the process and methodology of engineering new products. After design and development, product engineering takes a design solution and prepares it for manufacturing and launch. Our expertise includes CAD development, BOM creation, CTF drawings, prototyping, and testing as well as mechanical problem-solving, materials selection sourcing, and manufacturing support. Our approach is integrative. Because we are also a design and development firm, our engineering team takes a holistic view of all projects. This view enables us to uniquely engineer designs so that can be scaled on a cost-effective basis to ensure profitability and success. While our experience spans global companies that include many of the Fortune 500, we also work with startups to engineer challenging new concepts or ideas.

RKS is a comprehensive product engineering, design, and development firm. Whether creating new products and services or improving existing ones, we assist at all stages of a product’s life cycle. Our cross-disciplinary specialists, researchers, designers, and engineers leverage their deep understanding of multiple industries and technologies to spark creative and innovative solutions.

Our Clients

Engineering Design

The engineering design process is a common series of steps that engineers use in product engineering. These series of steps guide our teams as we solve complex problems. The steps are iterative, meaning that we repeat the steps as many times as needed, making improvements along the way as we learn from failure and uncover new possibilities to arrive at improved solutions. The overarching principle of the engineering design process is teamwork and strong technical capabilities. Years of experience working together enables our team to brainstorm ideas, apply new and existing concepts, test prototypes and analyze data—and aim for creativity and practicality in our solutions.

CAD

Computer-aided design (CAD) is one of the many tools used by our engineers and designers to engineer products and solve complex problems. Solving complex problems requires a combination of organization, analysis, problem solving principles and a graphical representation of the problem. With CAD software, it’s possible to create solutions in a virtual space, letting our team visualize attributes like height, width, distance, material, or color before a design is used for a particular application. Our experience spans the spectrum of CAD software from 2D CAD, to 3D CAD and solid modeling. In the product engineering process, CAD allows us to respond to solve problems, and respond to new information in our designs early on.

Testing

Our engineers test a product to determine whether it meets specifications and create the processes that test the product. From beginning to end of product engineering our engineers develop test programs and create QC documentation, perform testing, log test results, and analyze and track defects identified in testing. Before conducting the tests, our engineers develop test protocols to anticipate performance, determine timing and cost required to execute test programs, and determine resource and equipment needs to conduct testing. While testing our engineers maintain accurate documentation for executed test programs and investigate test problems and implement solutions. After testing, our engineers prepare failure analysis reports and provide corrective actions and recommend design revisions based on test data to meet expected performance. Some of these many tests include: the in-circuit test (ICT), stand-alone JTAG test, automated x-ray inspection (AXI), automated optical inspection (AOI) test, (Board) functional test (BFT/FT), burn-in test, environmental stress screening (ESS) test, and system test (ST).

Materials

Successful design to manufacturing require understanding of materials science and engineering. Materials science is the relationship between a material’s composition, microstructure, and properties and the effects of manufacturing on a material’s microstructure. Materials engineering is the task of applying materials science knowledge to the creation of products and manufacturing designs.

In many cases, up to 70% of the cost to make a product is its materials. Therefore, whether a product meets all its performance, reliability, and cost requirements depends on whether a team selects the appropriate materials and implements them correctly. An understanding of materials science and engineering enables selection of materials that have been optimized to meet performance, reliability, and cost requirements and control over the variation of the composition, microstructure, and properties of the materials so that they consistently meet their specifications. Proper materials science and engineering increases the likelihood of product success.

Design for Manufacturing

Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is the process of designing for ease of manufacturing with an end goal of making a better product at a lower cost. This is done by simplifying, optimizing and refining the product design. DFM is the integration of product design and planning into one common activity. The goal is to design a product that is easily and economically manufactured. DFM includes four basic principles. Standardization helps reduce costs by reducing inventory and scale-up needs. Design simplicity cuts down on the time and inventory needed to make a product, which reduces its overall cost. Alignment and compliance decisions both help catch errors in alignment that can damage parts or equipment, reducing yield or even causing line shutdown during manufacturing. Setup time reduction reduces the number of operations required per part, and/or helps simplify assembly steps with 3D printed fixtures and workflow improvements.

Compliance

Our product engineering team works around compliance requirements that are often imposed by governmental organizations, industry associations, and companies themselves. Often these requirements create minimum specifications for the form, function, and technologies used in a product. Fortunately, we can rely on our deep understanding of compliance issues and years of experience to find best-in-class solutions to each compliance requirement. Some examples include FDA certification, CLIA Certification, ISO and 13485 Compliance, and European Medical Devices Regulation (MDR). We support and adhere to standards that our clients and their regulatory partners define as they navigate these issues during the entire process.

Engineering Design

The engineering design process is a common series of steps that engineers use in product engineering. These series of steps guide our teams as we solve complex problems. The steps are iterative, meaning that we repeat the steps as many times as needed, making improvements along the way as we learn from failure and uncover new possibilities to arrive at improved solutions. The overarching principle of the engineering design process is teamwork and strong technical capabilities. Years of experience working together enables our team to brainstorm ideas, apply new and existing concepts, test prototypes and analyze data—and aim for creativity and practicality in our solutions.

CAD

Computer-aided design (CAD) is one of the many tools used by our engineers and designers to engineer products and solve complex problems. Solving complex problems requires a combination of organization, analysis, problem solving principles and a graphical representation of the problem. With CAD software, it’s possible to create solutions in a virtual space, letting our team visualize attributes like height, width, distance, material, or color before a design is used for a particular application. Our experience spans the spectrum of CAD software from 2D CAD, to 3D CAD and solid modeling. In the product engineering process, CAD allows us to respond to solve problems, and respond to new information in our designs early on.

Testing

Our engineers test a product to determine whether it meets specifications and create the processes that test the product. From beginning to end of product engineering our engineers develop test programs and create QC documentation, perform testing, log test results, and analyze and track defects identified in testing. Before conducting the tests, our engineers develop test protocols to anticipate performance, determine timing and cost required to execute test programs, and determine resource and equipment needs to conduct testing. While testing our engineers maintain accurate documentation for executed test programs and investigate test problems and implement solutions. After testing, our engineers prepare failure analysis reports and provide corrective actions and recommend design revisions based on test data to meet expected performance. Some of these many tests include: the in-circuit test (ICT), stand-alone JTAG test, automated x-ray inspection (AXI), automated optical inspection (AOI) test, (Board) functional test (BFT/FT), burn-in test, environmental stress screening (ESS) test, and system test (ST).

Materials

Successful design to manufacturing require understanding of materials science and engineering. Materials science is the relationship between a material’s composition, microstructure, and properties and the effects of manufacturing on a material’s microstructure. Materials engineering is the task of applying materials science knowledge to the creation of products and manufacturing designs.

In many cases, up to 70% of the cost to make a product is its materials. Therefore, whether a product meets all its performance, reliability, and cost requirements depends on whether a team selects the appropriate materials and implements them correctly. An understanding of materials science and engineering enables selection of materials that have been optimized to meet performance, reliability, and cost requirements and control over the variation of the composition, microstructure, and properties of the materials so that they consistently meet their specifications. Proper materials science and engineering increases the likelihood of product success.

Design for Manufacturing

Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is the process of designing for ease of manufacturing with an end goal of making a better product at a lower cost. This is done by simplifying, optimizing and refining the product design. DFM is the integration of product design and planning into one common activity. The goal is to design a product that is easily and economically manufactured. DFM includes four basic principles. Standardization helps reduce costs by reducing inventory and scale-up needs. Design simplicity cuts down on the time and inventory needed to make a product, which reduces its overall cost. Alignment and compliance decisions both help catch errors in alignment that can damage parts or equipment, reducing yield or even causing line shutdown during manufacturing. Setup time reduction reduces the number of operations required per part, and/or helps simplify assembly steps with 3D printed fixtures and workflow improvements.

Compliance

Our product engineering team works around compliance requirements that are often imposed by governmental organizations, industry associations, and companies themselves. Often these requirements create minimum specifications for the form, function, and technologies used in a product. Fortunately, we can rely on our deep understanding of compliance issues and years of experience to find best-in-class solutions to each compliance requirement. Some examples include FDA certification, CLIA Certification, ISO and 13485 Compliance, and European Medical Devices Regulation (MDR). We support and adhere to standards that our clients and their regulatory partners define as they navigate these issues during the entire process.

Engineering Methods

We utilize a combination of tried and true engineering methods and emergent technologies that give us a unique advantage in product engineering. While prototyping is a cornerstone of our work, new 3D printing methods allow us to quickly create life-like models that can be used to solve problems and make adjustments early on that are costly when done later. At the same time, our systems engineering methods incorporate traditional understandings of systems integration and of organization-wide technologies driving innovation like hybrid-cloud, AI/ML, and IoT. Ultimately, our decades of experience are used to apply best practices to every project and maintain enough flexibility to incorporate new ones as needed.

Rapid Prototyping

Prototypes are routinely used as part of the product engineering process to give engineers and designers the ability to explore design alternatives, test theories, and confirm performance prior to starting production of a new product. Almost every project uses prototypes in some way. A prototype is a working model of a product that is used for testing before it is manufactured. Prototypes help our designers learn about the manufacturing of a product, how people will use the product, and how the product could fail or break. A prototype is not the same thing as a model. A model is used to demonstrate or explain how a product will look or function. A prototype is used to test different working aspects of a product before the design is finalized.

3D Printing

3D printing is the key technology that enables rapid prototyping. Also called additive manufacturing, 3D printing is used to make three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. In the 3D printing machine a prototype is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. From shorter lead times in prototyping to the creation of complex internal structures, additive manufacturing can offer a big advantage over more traditional processes.3D printing allows our engineers and designers to create as many variations as necessary of a product or part while adapting its shape and detail, without affecting the cost of the process. As a result, 3D printing allows us to get early feedback and reviews for quality, adaptation, and adjustments. Changes cost more the later they occur and 3D printing reduces this risk.

Systems engineering

Product Engineering requires an interdisciplinary approach that includes an analysis of the product and its related elements such as production, maintenance, support, logistics, phase-out, and disposal These activities are necessary to the realization of the system and the longevity of the product. The proper application of systems engineering, and analysis ensures the timely and balanced use of human, financial, and technological assets, and technology investments to minimize problems, harmonize overall results, and maximize customer satisfaction and company objectives.

Product systems engineering helps develop the end-to-end analysis of products and their sub-systems, which includes determining the overall scope of needs for the system, defining product and system requirements, and considering all interactions between the different elements of the system.

Sourcing

In the product engineering process, our engineers evaluate, and source proposed materials and manufacturing partners based on the needs of the clients in regard to scale, budget, geographic location, and other factors that will drive decision making. Using our established relationships we often have unique access to materials, materials supply, and a range of manufacturers that cater to various categoires. Our suppliers can often be a great source of innovative ideas for future products. Through close relationships, our suppliers have the freedom to support engineering and innovation efforts that can result in a competitive advantage for both our clients and the supplier. More often than not our diverse set of relationships allows us to compare costs and have a backup option if one of our suppliers isn’t able to perform.

Manufacturing Support

Our clients often seek to leverage our deep experience in moving a product from engineering to production. Our manufacturing support services connect our clients and suppliers, with our manufacturer partners to support specific all or parts of the process. Our support can be end-to-end or targeted. At the outset, we can help our clients find the right manufacturers for their products. Our in-plant line side replenishment helps with coordinating the delivery of the required parts and materials to the production location, usually sequenced to the required specifications. This service frees up the cost of storing inputs and products themselves. We can also assist sourcing the sub-assembly and parts configuration used in a manufacturer’s products, reducing labor and storage costs. We also offer “post-production” services such as packaging design and sourcing that removes the burden of work from the manufacturer and client. Ultimately, our support is designed to create processes that minimize sourcing costs and lead times of products at each stage of the manufacturing supply chain.

Engineering Methods

We utilize a combination of tried and true engineering methods and emergent technologies that give us a unique advantage in product engineering. While prototyping is a cornerstone of our work, new 3D printing methods allow us to quickly create life-like models that can be used to solve problems and make adjustments early on that are costly when done later. At the same time, our systems engineering methods incorporate traditional understandings of systems integration and of organization-wide technologies driving innovation like hybrid-cloud, AI/ML, and IoT. Ultimately, our decades of experience are used to apply best practices to every project and maintain enough flexibility to incorporate new ones as needed.

Rapid Prototyping

Prototypes are routinely used as part of the product engineering process to give engineers and designers the ability to explore design alternatives, test theories, and confirm performance prior to starting production of a new product. Almost every project uses prototypes in some way. A prototype is a working model of a product that is used for testing before it is manufactured. Prototypes help our designers learn about the manufacturing of a product, how people will use the product, and how the product could fail or break. A prototype is not the same thing as a model. A model is used to demonstrate or explain how a product will look or function. A prototype is used to test different working aspects of a product before the design is finalized.

3D Printing

3D printing is the key technology that enables rapid prototyping. Also called additive manufacturing, 3D printing is used to make three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. In the 3D printing machine a prototype is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. From shorter lead times in prototyping to the creation of complex internal structures, additive manufacturing can offer a big advantage over more traditional processes.3D printing allows our engineers and designers to create as many variations as necessary of a product or part while adapting its shape and detail, without affecting the cost of the process. As a result, 3D printing allows us to get early feedback and reviews for quality, adaptation, and adjustments. Changes cost more the later they occur and 3D printing reduces this risk.

Systems engineering

Product Engineering requires an interdisciplinary approach that includes an analysis of the product and its related elements such as production, maintenance, support, logistics, phase-out, and disposal These activities are necessary to the realization of the system and the longevity of the product. The proper application of systems engineering, and analysis ensures the timely and balanced use of human, financial, and technological assets, and technology investments to minimize problems, harmonize overall results, and maximize customer satisfaction and company objectives.

Product systems engineering helps develop the end-to-end analysis of products and their sub-systems, which includes determining the overall scope of needs for the system, defining product and system requirements, and considering all interactions between the different elements of the system.

Sourcing

In the product engineering process, our engineers evaluate, and source proposed materials and manufacturing partners based on the needs of the clients in regard to scale, budget, geographic location, and other factors that will drive decision making. Using our established relationships we often have unique access to materials, materials supply, and a range of manufacturers that cater to various categoires. Our suppliers can often be a great source of innovative ideas for future products. Through close relationships, our suppliers have the freedom to support engineering and innovation efforts that can result in a competitive advantage for both our clients and the supplier. More often than not our diverse set of relationships allows us to compare costs and have a backup option if one of our suppliers isn’t able to perform.

Manufacturing Support

Our clients often seek to leverage our deep experience in moving a product from engineering to production. Our manufacturing support services connect our clients and suppliers, with our manufacturer partners to support specific all or parts of the process. Our support can be end-to-end or targeted. At the outset, we can help our clients find the right manufacturers for their products. Our in-plant line side replenishment helps with coordinating the delivery of the required parts and materials to the production location, usually sequenced to the required specifications. This service frees up the cost of storing inputs and products themselves. We can also assist sourcing the sub-assembly and parts configuration used in a manufacturer’s products, reducing labor and storage costs. We also offer “post-production” services such as packaging design and sourcing that removes the burden of work from the manufacturer and client. Ultimately, our support is designed to create processes that minimize sourcing costs and lead times of products at each stage of the manufacturing supply chain.

Markets

We have decades of experience bringing our product engineering competencies to various industries and markets. Our experience in product engineering and tools, as well as our long-term relationships with suppliers and manufacturers allow us to work across industries. We have deep experience in the medical, consumer, and industrial product engineering. We have run the gamut of consumer products for worldwide markets and millions of shipments to specialized medical products for a small targeted market. Though there are common challenges for each industry, each project brings its own unique challenges and opportunities. We approach each challenge with the same experience and skills that enabled us to create lasting value for our clients.

Consumer

We’ve worked with hundreds of companies to bring their consumer product designs to life through our product engineering expertise. Our experience with consumer products ranges from guitar amplifiers, to children’s toys, and everything in between. In each case we bring concepts to life by using our competencies in design and development to turn concepts into production-ready designs. Consumer products are unique from other products such as medical products or industrial products because they usually are sold directly to their end user and sold at scale globally. Engineering decisions must take into the account the potentially global nature of the supply chain, as well as the potentially wide variety of customers.

Medical

Medical companies trust us to create and update some of some of their most important designs to achieve business goals. We’ve engineered devices and products for medical device companies from various industries from genomics to dentistry. Medical devices are used in often heavily regulated industries that require layers of approvals and exacting specifications. Moreover, multiple stakeholders are often included in the decisions to purchase a new product or device. These stakeholders have their own needs and compliance requirements. Our expertise in working with companies in the medical industry allows us to take into consideration these diverse stakeholder requirements throughout the entire engineering process, and throughout the design, development, concept, prototyping, and production processes.

Industrial

Over the years we have developed and implemented work in and with installations, accessories, manufactured parts, and supplies and consumables. For each type of industrial product we’ve worked in various industries, such as automotive, semiconductors, banking, technology, as well as general sustainability across production. Industrial products often demand lower tolerances, because they are used in high-velocity, high-pressure, and/or six-sigma environments.

These environments require engineering that is durable, ergonomic, and efficient. Our engineering and development process accounts for both the demanding user requirements of industrial products and their demanding cost requirements.

Digital

Digital permeates every new product as a key feature or as an important concern due to the integrated systems where the product is being used. At the same, product engineering usually includes some type of software engineering. Products and the services they provide are reflected in the interplay between hardware and software. Software increasingly unlocks the capabilities of hardware to deliver long-term value to customers. At the same time, newly engineered products must take into account the technologies and trends that are turning everyday objects into supercomputers and/or connected sensors. Our experience with Cloud, AI/ML, IoT, Mobile and Web, as well as UX/UI enable us to engineer products that consider the digital requirements of products. Ultimately, our experience allows us to create products that use digital to increase useful life.

Open Innovation Solutions

We believe that the future belongs to those who create it. Our expertise can be applied to industries that exist and it can be used to create new ones. The design, development, and engineering of a product often leverages the existing knowledge and technologies of the present but applies them in a unique way. We have been engaged by clients to oversee the design and development of work that redefines categories.

Markets

We have decades of experience bringing our product engineering competencies to various industries and markets. Our experience in product engineering and tools, as well as our long-term relationships with suppliers and manufacturers allow us to work across industries. We have deep experience in the medical, consumer, and industrial product engineering. We have run the gamut of consumer products for worldwide markets and millions of shipments to specialized medical products for a small targeted market. Though there are common challenges for each industry, each project brings its own unique challenges and opportunities. We approach each challenge with the same experience and skills that enabled us to create lasting value for our clients.

Consumer

We’ve worked with hundreds of companies to bring their consumer product designs to life through our product engineering expertise. Our experience with consumer products ranges from guitar amplifiers, to children’s toys, and everything in between. In each case we bring concepts to life by using our competencies in design and development to turn concepts into production-ready designs. Consumer products are unique from other products such as medical products or industrial products because they usually are sold directly to their end user and sold at scale globally. Engineering decisions must take into the account the potentially global nature of the supply chain, as well as the potentially wide variety of customers.

Medical

Medical companies trust us to create and update some of some of their most important designs to achieve business goals. We’ve engineered devices and products for medical device companies from various industries from genomics to dentistry. Medical devices are used in often heavily regulated industries that require layers of approvals and exacting specifications. Moreover, multiple stakeholders are often included in the decisions to purchase a new product or device. These stakeholders have their own needs and compliance requirements. Our expertise in working with companies in the medical industry allows us to take into consideration these diverse stakeholder requirements throughout the entire engineering process, and throughout the design, development, concept, prototyping, and production processes.

Industrial

Over the years we have developed and implemented work in and with installations, accessories, manufactured parts, and supplies and consumables. For each type of industrial product we’ve worked in various industries, such as automotive, semiconductors, banking, technology, as well as general sustainability across production. Industrial products often demand lower tolerances, because they are used in high-velocity, high-pressure, and/or six-sigma environments.

These environments require engineering that is durable, ergonomic, and efficient. Our engineering and development process accounts for both the demanding user requirements of industrial products and their demanding cost requirements.

Digital

Digital permeates every new product as a key feature or as an important concern due to the integrated systems where the product is being used. At the same, product engineering usually includes some type of software engineering. Products and the services they provide are reflected in the interplay between hardware and software. Software increasingly unlocks the capabilities of hardware to deliver long-term value to customers. At the same time, newly engineered products must take into account the technologies and trends that are turning everyday objects into supercomputers and/or connected sensors. Our experience with Cloud, AI/ML, IoT, Mobile and Web, as well as UX/UI enable us to engineer products that consider the digital requirements of products. Ultimately, our experience allows us to create products that use digital to increase useful life.

Open Innovation Solutions

We believe that the future belongs to those who create it. Our expertise can be applied to industries that exist and it can be used to create new ones. The design, development, and engineering of a product often leverages the existing knowledge and technologies of the present but applies them in a unique way. We have been engaged by clients to oversee the design and development of work that redefines categories.