When Ray Minato started Inertia Engineering + Design 11 years ago, he wanted to focus on speed, efficiency, and customer service. He had the desire and drive, but he needed the right tools for the task.
One indispensible tool in Ray’s 3D design toolkit is SOLIDWORKS® Enterprise Product Data Management (EPDM)®. It’s the file manager and data management vault that forms the foundation of Inertia’s product development processes.
“I’ve been a believer in EPDM since day one because it’s been effective since day one,” he says. “It’s the backbone of our operations, integrated with all of our other SOLIDWORKS and Microsoft® software.”
Benefits for shops of all sizes
Although many believe that EPDM is designed for large shops, Ray started out with just one licence. He knew that standardization and consistency would serve him well from the start, even when it was just him and few contractors working together. Today, Inertia has 15 people working in house and another handful working remotely – all collaborating efficiently inside EPDM.
“Whether there are two or 20 or 200 people, there is potential for error,” he says. “Everything in EPDM is easy to find, revise, link, and share. I’ve worked with companies that have a person on staff just to manually manage part numbers and file names. That’s his job. Here, EPDM helps us label and control revisions easily.”
Tackling the tough challenges
It’s the method in the mad world of product design that keeps Ray and his team delivering on complex, technically challenging, high-risk ventures that have never been done before. He says his customers come to Inertia to get results where others could not.
“Our engineering processes are well defined and well documented. I can tell new customers with confidence that we’re delivering on milestones because we’re tracking our performance on speed and quality every day.”
Ray’s team communicates easily with the customer throughout the product’s journey. They provide weekly status updates that cover what’s been accomplished, priorities for next week, and how the team is doing on timing and budget. If they choose, customers are even able to log in to be immersed in the work.
“Our customer knows the product best,” he says. “It’s their baby. They have to be involved and make decisions with us. Every week, we’re telling them what we did and why we did it.”
A product development story
Ray admits that documentation standards at Inertia can be overwhelming to a new engineer joining the team, but says he always goes back to how critical it is, especially when dealing with manufacturing design data.
“I always say, ‘if you can’t show your work, then you haven’t done the work.’”
Talking big picture, EPDM is the management tool that allows designers to create a book of details about what worked and what didn’t work. Instead of going back and mining scattered files in different environments – even email messages – trying to solve a mystery, it’s all there in one place.
“Along the way, you have a tool that allows you to map out workflow, review day-to-day work with your manager, customer or shareholder, and get and record approvals, ” Ray says. “And in the end, what you have is a full product development story.”
Partnering with Javelin
Supplying and supporting Ray since the early days of Inertia is Javelin Technologies. It’s a relationship that extends far beyond a typical customer and supplier arrangement.
“Working with Javelin has always been a partnership. They are not just resellers. They’ve always tried to help in any way they could. It’s a real match of culture and philosophy.”
Results from using EPDM
- The work of the entire team, from early design through manufacturing, is captured in one secure, access-controlled vault.
- Standardization tools inherent to EPDM contribute to product development process running at top speed.
- Room for error is reduced, as is data loss and the need for costly rework.
- Collaboration, internally and with external stakeholders, happens easily. Approvals occur quickly and are recorded clearly. Knowledge is documented and easily transferred. Smooth hand offs from person to person allowed Inertia to expand to a two-shift operation, boosting productivity and reducing time-to-market for customers.
- EPDM features related to auditing, quality assurance, and process improvement helped Inertia achieve ISO 9000 certification, normally reserved for much larger companies.
- Because of its dedication to solid process, Inertia has developed a reputation for on time, on budget, high quality delivery, leading to customer confidence, more word-of-mouth referrals, and more business opportunities in new sectors. The company is expanding its offerings beyond engineering and design to include end-to-end, turnkey contract manufacturing services.