Archive for December, 2009

When discussing projects with clients I have found that innovation often takes place with people that aren’t necessarily in their field of discipline.  As a custom fabricator we have meet some very interesting people over the years that have had some great ideas. Often times these ideas aren’t in a field of our clients expertise or even our own yet some great innovations have come from such meetings.  Creativity seems to flow naturally as we collaborate ideas and look for solutions to the clients needs.  Often times the collaboration leads to more ideas and have launched of some really great projects and products.  These clients have very little knowledge in some cases, yet have had revolutionary ideas executed with great success.  Likewise, some of our best procedures and our own innovation as a fabrication facility have come from looking at an old problem with a new perspective.

I have begun to think about how our own knowledge how can stifle innovation within our own company.  Our knowledge gives us the ability to be decisive and ultimately it is our primary source to make good decisions. Yet, when does knowledge become a liability to a company, customer, or a project.  How do we recognize if we have reached a point that our own expertise has stifled innovation and creativity? Can we help our staff and clients realize when they have stifled their learning with knowledge (in other words how do we avoid being a know it all)?

Company leadership must create an environment in which creativity can be explored in the confines of knowledge.  Attempting something that has a probability of success after discussion and risk mitigation is the only way to practice ingenuity.  When a company comes to the point where it no longer has the ability to take a calculated risk it runs the risk of  loosing it’s relevance in the market of ingenuity.  Although, knowledge is a valuable asset to any company it can become a liability when it gets in the way of learning something new or taking calculated risks with potential reward.

For the sake of our customers we always like to offer alternative solutions to their projects or problems.  Though we may loose some revenue by selling a less expensive solution we are more likely to gain future sales by offering good alternatives at reduced rates.  Likewise, our customers can always choose to stick with what they know too.  This is when knowledge that is tried and true can be relied on and the customer can rest assured in the known.  However, we should all be willing to at least entertain new solutions to old problems and encourage our colleagues to be creative and inventive in the solutions we offer.  How can precision Pipe help you discover your new solutions…

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Heat Exchanger Design

Heat exchangers are difficult to design.   These difficulties normally arise when it comes to rating and sizing the heat exchanger.  When rating a heat exchanger, there are many parameters taken into account.  These parameters include the heat transfer rate, the inlet and outlet temperatures and the flowrates at these temperatures, and the pressure drop over the heat exchanger.  Many times, customers only give two or three of the above values and expect the manufacturer to “fill in the blanks”.  For this reason, it is important that the manufacturer has someone in their employ that is experienced in designing heat exchangers so that they can use their experience to determine what the missing values are that the customer wants and thus properly design the heat exchanger properly.  Once the rating part of the design process is compete, then it is time to focus on the second “difficulty”,  sizing the heat exchanger.  Sizing the heat exchanger deals with taking the knowledge from the rating design and putting into a physical “vessel” that meets the customers needs.  Sizing involves the dimensions of the heat exchanger as well as selecting the proper type of heat exchanger for the application.  Again, having an experienced person on staff will help when determining what size/type of heat exchanger to use for what application.  Finally, while having a well experienced person is definitely a plus, it is also helpful to have software to assist that person in getting the job done quickly and effectively.  Together, these two things will greatly reduce the difficulty in designing heat exchangers.


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Undoubtedly, there are many formulas, methods, and styles used to help us take a project from start to finish with success.  We usually stick with what works best for us and utilizes our strengths.  Have you ever thought about what made a certain project really successful – or, a disaster?  Of course you have!  Have you found that you tend to spend more time and effort studying why a project flopped then why it was a success?  We obviously want to learn from our mistakes, but we shouldn’t chalk up our successful projects to flawless execution of the project plan and then dismissively move on without further examination.  More often than not, we find there were other factors involved to make a particular project a success and we must learn how to repeat success on a consistent basis.

Today, I want to focus on one reason some projects do better than others…Inspiration.  Inspiration is the catalyst to your project plan’s success.  In our world today, the “Why” is sometimes just as important as the “How”   In other words, it’s important to communicate to the project team why this particular project is important to the client, how it will benefit the client, and why caring about the client is particularly important  to your organization.  When we communicate effectively to our project team, we inspire them to look outside the walls that surround our business and connect to a project with greater ownership and sense of urgency.

Another form of inspiration comes from the Project Lead’s ability to become a servant-leader.  Asking team members, “What can I do to help?”  or taking action by jumping in can boost productivity ten-fold.  As I type this post, our QA/QC Manager is working alongside project team members to ensure that we send a project out ahead of schedule.  He is taking himself out of his everyday routine to help his team members achieve success and build the confidence they need for future projects.

What can you do to add inspiration to your project, today?  Inspire those within your team through vision, servant-leadership, and by showing them that they are valuable to the team.


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