The initial stage of a design, the customer normally gives us a call and says, “Hey, we’d like you look at such and such part of our truck.” And you do a few visits, you get some understanding from their engineers of exactly what the function is, and you go for it and do some sketches.
That’s the best place to start, sketches. And don’t be afraid to have sketches on napkins. Sometimes the best ideas come from when you’re sitting down having a cup of coffee and relaxing in the morning, and you just have to write something down on a napkin. A great way to start a project. These sketches end up turning into concept ideas and you need to neaten up these sketches so that you can actually display them to the customer. Basically you’re communicating to the customer. You’re telling them, “This is what I’m thinking of designing. Do you see any problems with it? Do you see any opportunities?” And so that’s where the sketching part of the design really plays an important role.
It’s that communicating to the customer of exactly what you’re thinking.
Things eventuate and sometimes, and I certainly like to get in hands on to a product. And that means sometimes building a product myself. Maybe building a similar product and finding out if it’s difficult to build, maybe we need to redesign it for manufacture if we’re having the opportunity to redesign it at all. These are important attributes that go into the design as well as presenting it to the customer, and I like the presentations to the customer where we’re not all stiff and rigid and worried about saying something.
I like those presentations where everyone gets involved in the conversation, everyone has input, everyone wants to be part of the design process. For me that’s terrific. I’m inclusive on every part of the design process, it’s great. And even if I can create objects which aren’t quite right, and maybe I know that, but allow the engineers or designers of the customer to help it along, to give them inspiration, well that’s terrific too. We’re all trying to get the one goal, which is something great for the end user.