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Engineers know there is rarely one path to solving a design challenge when making complex composite products. With pressure to create innovative products faster and cost-effectively, design engineers must find the most efficient way or risk missing their design goals.
(Published on July 2006 – JEC Magazine #26)
Aunique, highly skilled group of service professionals make up Vistagy’s technical consulting team. Unlike typical software consultants, “TCs” begin working with organizations long before the software is purchased. They work closely with aerospace and automotive manufacturers to discover the best methods for automating composite design processes in order to solve critical design challenges. As a result, technical consultants are intimately tied to their customers’ design successes or failures.
Technical consultant Adrienne Sekerak believes she’s learned much of her craft directly from laminators and technicians on the job.
No ordinary days
Vistagy technical consultants find that every day offers a new challenge. “There is no typical day at the office… and that is exciting,” says Adrienne Sekerak, technical consultant, European region at Vistagy. “One day I’m at a factory in Italy. The next, I’m scrutinizing a research facility in Germany or working in a design office in England. My tasks include training design and manufacturing engineers on how best to use our software products, testing composite lay-ups with technicians, or working with design engineers to define laminates for an aircraft wing.
TCs spend a great deal of time analyzing their customers’ processes and information flow so they can provide recommendations that work within the company’s way of doing things. “Flexibility is so important,” says Adrienne. “We don’t give manufacturers an off-the-shelf process to accomplish a design goal. Instead, we take into account their existing tools and procedures. We make suggestions based on our experiences across industries and disciplines to determine a unique solution that fits their individual needs and goals.
Engineers at heart
Technical consultants like Adrienne are engineers by trade, and learn their craft directly from the laminators and technicians that they’ve worked with over the years. “I’ve always been interested in how things work, which led me to study engineering,” Adrienne continues.
“At engineering school, I learned how to research and apply theory to engineering problems, but real engineering is done on shop floors every day. I still learn new methodologies all the time, and I apply what I’ve learned to solve my customers’ unique challenges.”
TCs take into account all aspects of a customer’s situation, goals, resources, limitations and resistance to new tools in order to deliver carefully integrated and customized solutions. Adrienne says, “Vistagy develops specialized engineering software, but at the end of the day, it is more than just software - it’s about finding the right combination of solutions to help a manufacturer innovate and stay ahead of the competition.
Today’s challenges become tomorrow’s successes
Adrienne faces many challenges on a daily basis, but one of the biggest is to convince people to modify the way they’re currently developing products. Adrienne says, “We’re not there to tell manufacturers how to do their jobs. We make suggestions that optimize the value of our software and create new ways of streamlining their design and manufacturing procedures.”
“If a manufacturer has a process for making a widget, and it works well, but the process can be improved by using Vistagy software or new methodologies, it can be a challenge at first to prove that the new process will ultimately provide a benefit. But, once we prove it to them, it creates a strong bond of trust between Vistagy and our customer. This bond opens the door for us to make suggestions for other tools and procedures that provide enormous benefits and value to our customers.”
This is the essence of the technical consultant’s job - to become a trusted partner for customers and positively affect process changes to ensure the optimal use of Vistagy software.