Engineering design money down the drain or investment for future?

A prominent UK business leader a former chairman of British Steel, no less is reported to have said: ‘There are four ways to lose money: wine, women, gambling, and giving it to an engineer.’ That’s not much of an endorsement for the special purpose machinery market, and Nick Pascoe, commercial director of Pascoe Williams, reckons it is a perception that needs to be changed quickly if the UK’s manufacturing industry is to compete in the global market.

‘Good engineering design can save money,’ says Pascoe. ‘But too few companies are prepared to invest sufficient time and money in the design process.

‘More often than not, engineering design has been seen as something to be rushed,’ he continues. ‘Usually when manufacturing companies come across production problems, time and money are the key factors driving the decision makers involved in the process of purchasing new technologies. Consequently, the suppliers of these new technologies have been forced to deliver solutions which may appear cost-effective in the short term, but which have left the UK in the state it now finds itself in.’

Pascoe sees problems throughout industry, but is particularly concerned by lack of development in mechanical technologies. ‘There are many engineering workshops that can meet the demand for mechanical manufacturing technologies that have been hastily designed on a strict budget,’ he says. ‘Unfortunately, the end products rarely meet the requirements of the job they were intended for. Relatively few design houses can deliver carefully considered, thoroughly engineered and designed equipment that will continue to add valve to a company long after the rush jobs have been replaced. And even fewer companies are prepared to make the long term investments to develop working relationships with design houses who may appear to cost more in the short term, but who deliver quality end products. And so while UK companies may think they have been saving money by not investing in research and development of new technologies, they have in fact been falling further behind those countries whose long term vision is the cornerstone of the manufacturing industry.’