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Electrical Engineers Face Many Challenges — Here’s How We Help

This year has been another painful one — from cargo backlogs and semiconductor shortages — in addition to what feels like a neverending pandemic. Electrical engineers of all experience levels feel the pressure of juggling many challenges at once. EETech recently published its 2021 Electrical Engineering Research Study, and the results were compelling.

When asked about their most pressing concerns, Next Gen engineers (less than six years of experience) and Career Pros (six+ years of experience) around the world had a lot of the same obstacles:

Source: EETech 2021 Electrical Engineering Study

Can you relate to some or all of these? A handful of these challenges are internal to the organization and beyond outside help. But, the good news is, VCC can help electrical engineers with several of their largest obstacles, including:

Staying on Schedule + On Budget

It doesn’t matter what year it is — the time and money struggle is real for young and seasoned engineers and product developers. And the current environment is only making things worse because prices for in-demand components are trending upwards, and devices are getting more complex. 

 We help engineers stay on track with project timelines and budgets with our:

Extensive portfolio of standard products

using standard products that meet design requirements is a great way to reduce costs. So VCC has one of the most robust and innovative product selections in the industry. 

Unparalleled design expertise

we zoom out and ask the right questions about the device’s application and production processes, in addition to the design requirements. Our team is skilled in developing creative solutions to save production time and costs, even when tooling is completed.

Ability to modify existing products

in many cases, we help engineers by tweaking an existing product to get the exact color, size, or voltage needed. This approach can save production time and costs compared to a fully custom indicator or light pipe.

Innovative custom designs

our team develops custom light pipe solutions that help clients achieve their indication and aesthetic goals — and often reduce lead times and budget during production and assembly. For example, we created a custom illuminated logo light engine for a medical device OEM that reduced the number of LEDs needed and simplified the shape of the assembly to reduce the overall BOM.

Value-added solutions

by offering turnkey solutions or even custom wire harnesses and connectors, we help streamline the supply chain, reduce the number of suppliers, and therefore keep costs down.

North American manufacturing

our nearshore production facility ensures our clients save time and money on shipping while avoiding tariffs and cargo ship clusters. Plus, we eliminate time zone lag times during design and development, so clients can get to market even faster.

Not Enough Engineers On Staff

Engineering professions aren’t immune to the Great Resignation, leaving the remaining team members feeling overworked. One way to alleviate that stress is to utilize the knowledge of a proven partner. VCC has a team of experienced optical, mechanical and electrical engineers who can consult and help keep projects on track.

We work as an extension of your team to quickly and effectively:

  • Develop and validate design concepts
  • Conduct ray simulations to maximize efficiencies
  • Provide recommendations for streamlining production 
  • Meet or exceed the design requirements

Engineering Staff Lacks Needed Skills

In an ever-changing field like engineering, ongoing education is essential to innovation in product design and development. 

VCC’s multidisciplinary team collaborates with your design team to fill in any skill gaps. We also provide free resources for all skill levels. Here are just a few of the educational tools we offer:

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Light Pipe Design Guide

a go-to guide for anyone who needs to learn about the many complexities of light pipe design.

vcc light pipe design guide

PCBA Design Guide

the ultimate resource for learning about PCBs and PCBA production.

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Status Light Guide

tips and best practices for effective HMI and indication design.

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Case Studies

diverse library of client success stories to help engineers and designers learn how to solve unique challenges.

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The Ultimate Status Indicator Glossary

a handy resource for essential illuminated component and indicator definitions.

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Technical FAQs

extensive collection of technical questions on everything from light pipe design to wire harnessing and PCBA production.

Consultative support – if you have specific questions, reach out to us via chat on the website, or tell us more about your project so we can help.

Economic Conditions

Global and national economic conditions were of equal concern between both Next Gen and Career Pro electrical engineers surveyed.  We’re currently in this climate where conditions will continue to cause uncertainty and inconvenience this year and beyond. According to Supplyframe, the top three supply chain risks in 2022 will be:

  • Price increases on components due to material shortages and manufacturing disruptions caused by climate change and the pandemic
  • Longer lead times due to buffer inventory depletion
  • Geopolitical rivalries between China and North America

While many of these challenges are outside anyone’s control, engineers and OEMs can take steps to minimize supply chain disruptions and costly delays. EPS News recommends:

Maintaining solid relationships with suppliers

VCC maintains solid relationships with our suppliers and distributors to be more proactive when economic conditions are shifting.

Diversifying suppliers

utilizing multiple suppliers is a wise idea, even in the best of times — especially when they operate close to your market. VCC’s products are manufactured in North America, so our clients minimize production disruptions and avoid the headaches associated with overseas production, such as tariffs and extensive shipping delays.

Designing new products while anticipating future shortages

of course, now is a perfect time to rethink certain products while waiting out key supplies. However, our custom light pipe prototypes are polished and treated to be 90% accurate compared to the finished product. In small batches, these could be yet another solution for addressing current economic and supply chain challenges.  

Adapting Product Designs to Meet Market Needs

Consumers are craving sleeker, smaller, and more intuitive products. Yet, according to Lifecycle Insights’ 2021 NPI and Sourcing Study, NPIs are getting more complex. More than 60% of those surveyed said: 

  • The number of components per product has increased more than 20%
  • The number of suppliers per product has gone up more than 20%
  • Indented levels in a BOM are up more than 20%

VCC has deep design expertise to help clients develop sleek HMIs and illuminated solutions with a focus on reducing production costs and simplifying the bill of materials wherever possible. 

For example, one wireless router OEM had two LEDs specified for the device, one of which had to be violet. Our team devised a solution that utilized RGB LED wavelengths to create violet color — without the need for an actual violet LED. By using the same LED for both indicators on the device, we simplified the BOM and saved our client money.

Quality Control

Quality is a top priority for all engineers and manufacturers, as one bad product can hurt years of trust and reputation-building in the marketplace.

We have extensive processes and protocols in place to ensure the highest level of quality and performance for all VCC products. Our facilities are registered to ISO 9001 2015 Quality Management System, meaning the quality system related to the design, development, manufacturing, delivery, and internal customer service has been verified by third-party audits. 

In addition to being certified by UL, RoHS, and many other industry organizations, our team can guide you through the process of obtaining the necessary certifications to meet quality standards relevant to your industry and device.

As we navigate these uncertain times together, engineers will undoubtedly face new challenges and new opportunities. Partnering with a design and manufacturing leader who can evolve with industry shifts will become more crucial than ever. If you’re ready to chat about a pressing design challenge, we’d be happy to help. Otherwise, we welcome you to explore the many resources listed above designed to help engineers keep learning and improving.

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