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Using Prototypes for Strategic Advantage

Our website – Planet Proto was developed by designers, engineers and technicians to provide the kind of prototype parts they want and need as essential tools in product development. The core team developed Planet Proto’s proprietary processes as the internal product development group of a Fortune 500 company. The goal of this group then was to support the company in being first to market with emerging technologies.

Pre Intel Dominance Workstation

Back then, the design team wrapped these technology products in well-considered, well-executed industrial design and mechanically engineered solutions all before injection molding tooling was ordered. This prototyping capability became a critical tool to the development of the larger company’s reputation as a true technology innovator.

The team’s normal approach was to attend a trade show with a dozen operating products in their enclosures running reliably before the first dollar was spent on steel production tooling. The competition always wondered how we did it.

Prototypes and product models serve the strategic needs of a product producing company. Ideas are proven or disproven with good models. Approaches are evaluated with little speculation. Prototypes are developed to answer questions. Consider this truth: Prototypes tell the benefits and results of your product development process to executives like no PowerPoint slide deck ever could.

Team Communication, Decisions and Speed

The most effective communication tool in product development may require the fewest words. Prototypes or models prove their value in a project team reviews and again later when an idea needs to be sold to decision makers. When the time comes to make to validate a concept, use models to make an effective evaluation.

Object Model for engineering review meeting

Objet Model created after the first 2 weeks of engineering.

You can’t hold a CAD file and neither can an executive. When a team of seasoned professionals needs to accelerate its product development process they use prototypes. The quickest path to a quality product is to prototype early – prototype often. The quickest path to developing a performance product is to prototype several levels of prototypes.

Use Rapid Prototypes early in the process, cast resin prototypes later in the process. The quickest path to cost reduction is to prototype often. Extending time between prototyping extends the product development process. Models and prototypes help decisions to be made with confidence, clarity and speed. Time out of market is usually the most expensive failure a product development team can make. A good prototyping plan can help get your product to the market faster.

Industrial Design of the electric brake Controller is realized

Models are finished up prior to the Trade Show.

Get to Know Your Customer

If you need to question a marketing executive’s assumptions, use a model. If you need to gauge a customer’s actual response to a product before committing to steel tooling, use a prototype or model. If you don’t need to do this, how do you know if you are making the right decision? If you need genuine, valuable feedback from a focus group, use well-executed models. If product reviews with individuals are your approach, use quality models.

Business executives are evaluated on the good, timely decisions they make. Developing products customers want and need is essential. Help gain the insights you need and find the flashes of inspiration required to get ahead by getting models in front of customers early. Be innovative by knowing how your customers think and what they really need. Observe their reaction and the way they handle your product way before you commit big money to tooling. Prototype as early as possible and get these models into the hands of your customers. Learn what they think. Learn what they expect. Get into their heads and find those unmet and unarticulated needs. Become the executive with the ideas that sell and have real traction in the market. Innovate smartly.

Working model used for executive review

Working model used for executive review

The Secret of Design Executives and Entrepreneurs

Selling the idea to a decision maker is done most effectively with a model. CAD renderings and visualizations are great, but when your reputation is on the line, when you need to build confidence in your concept, show upper management a model. Many successful companies use Planet Proto prototypes and models to attend a trade show before tooling is ordered. Many Planet Proto customers order 8 to 10 sets of models to fill with their components and take to a trade show. The quality of a model shows the effectiveness of your design process.

Quantities of your product on display and working demonstrate that your entrepreneurial company can make it happen and with confidence. Is there anything more important to an investor than confidence? Give them that confidence with a high-quality model or quick (rapid) prototype.
Planet Proto is a web-based system developed to provide high-quality parts and assemblies to a larger marketplace. We know the critical importance of being on-market, on time with your product.

After a night of high volume chewing I am at the Edge

It used to be I would loose sleep over how to make a product all it could ever become. Then I lost sleep to 3 growing children. This night I  am awakened by a distant but still loud chewing sound. My children generally masticate quietly. I knew the sound was not good.

Thanks to both James and Stephen for their insights into what was trying to eat its way through the floor into our house. Wednesday night was a late one for me as I could hear very loud chewing downstairs underneath our groovy 1970’s style wet bar, now serving as centralized game and Lego storage zone. I thought a beaver had made its home under the house and was cutting timber right under the wet bar.

James told me he thought it was probably a raccoon or ground hog. He also assaulted my self-made impression of good homeowner of with the thought of very loud termites. Then in the same timeframe, Austin asks us to put together pictures of giant South American Termite mounds. These mounds were several feet tall. A few short moments of homeowner terror and I was OK again.

Critter Abatement.

Stage One was to leave the door open for several hours at night. Stephen made this suggestion. I did this last night after looking around under the house myself. We have a walk-in crawl space complete with lighting. I left it open until about 11:30 with the lights off. The mental challenge for me is that an open door is naturally an equal invitation to come in or to get out.

This afternoon “Sally the Intrepid” my dear wife, ventured under the house to see what was eating at our place. She is apparently a pioneer at heart and took the preparations of Girls Scout training and camps of her youth very seriously. I am sure she must have earned her spelunking merit badge. From inside the crawlspace she confirmed that the chewing critter now believed to be a raccoon, was coming in around the flashing for the big carbon foot print expanding HVAC unit. Racoon poop found close by was apparently convincing (too big for a skunk). Also no residual skunk after-odor I am told. Using the easy to find rocks found around our yard she piled good size rocks on both sided of the sheet metal lined entrance point. Girl Scout solution in action.

Game plan Tonight: listen for chewing of the house. If no chewing, scratching or no other raccoon noises (they make 51 different sounds –net knowledge)

Lessons Learned While at The Jail

A few short weeks ago our family took a tour of the newly opened $80 million dollar jail. I learned my children seemed all too comfortable with being in a jail and I can tell you it was noisy. Hard Surfaces. Jail bars. Tables made into the floor. (kind of like the food court) Very nice for a jail but definitely overpriced at $80 million. The local crowd understands though. It is a monument to what not to do with a large construction project and poor site placement. Located on a very visible major thoroughfare and easily seen for blocks and blocks.  This is a huge design problem for me. A basic mistake. They built it in the wrong place.  I know I will have to accept it.  I cannot change it. I hope the jail cost overrun fiasco keeps local officials humble for decades to come.

Tomorrow: I will pound a few short iron rebar in front of the raccoon entrance area near the big carbon footprint expander. Hopefully this will be a symbol to the raccoon (with intelligence near that of Monkeys -internet) that it has been barred from the crawlspace. It should also be an literal symbol of the potential incarceration that could await if it got back in. I hope the jail bars tell do the trick and prompt the raccoon and its raccoon family and friends to stay out of our crawlspace.

The Kind of Thing a Designer Wants to Know Before Starting a Project

I now know raccoons follow a path at night, going from one potential food source to another night after night. So – things I know so far on the raccoon feeding path- 1. our bird feeder (about 15 ft over the ground) 2. our crawlspace 3. The rec room trim. 4. the tree limb over our bedroom. I did notice the rec room door aluminum trim was kind of chewed up in a different way from normal door-trim chewing.

Raccoon Path Stop #1

I think the coolness of the crawl space must be like animal air conditioning; still a luxury in the great outdoors, always a luxury in the South. Apparently the raccoon with monkey-like intelligence and I agree, the our house is a decent place to spend a hot humid evening.

Today’s other wildlife adventure
After dinner tonight, our middle daughter, the designated trash and garbage removal professional of the household, discovers a scary and healthy looking black widow spider in the lid of the big green garbage can with wheels. A quick verification on the net illustrates all too well it is the real thing. Our youngest daughter – the one who wants to be a wildlife photographer, found her camera while I observed the black widow by holding the can lid open. I was fortunate to have my reading glasses on me.  This is a very cool looking spider. (Still scary). The red dots on its glossy black back were so very red. Nature is so cool. I am not, with these glasses looking into the giant green plastic can with wheels for maybe twenty minutes. The neighbors only look and wonder as they drive by as I help give my 8 year a good shot. She wants to send it to a magazine. I think to myself…..the green background of the can lid just doesn’t do the spider shot justice.

Hello world and those orbiting!

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