Gearbox Design: Let the Fun Begin

It is perfectly understandable if you want to celebrate the completion of your gearbox design project and the release of the drawings for manufacturing. Unfortunately, your euphoria is likely to be very short lived. Within hours the comments will start to find their way back to you along with requests for changes. Do not take offense; it is just your teammates doing their jobs.

Most ISO 9000-certified “design and build” shops have multiple design reviews in their procedures to reduce these last-minute revisions. When first confronted with these requirements I was not a fan; over time my skin got thicker and I came to appreciate the value of a second, third, or even fourth opinion. Really, I did; it may not have seemed like it during the spirited “discussion” portion of the meeting, but what person does not defend his or her “children” from criticism?

What changed my outlook was developing respect for the experience others brought to the process of making the actual parts. There is a wonderful saying that sums it up: “Nothing is impossible for the person who does not have to do it themselves.” If your hobbing supervisor worries about his operator destroying that shoulder, you need to keep your bearing in position, you are wise to listen and revise the part. If the metallurgist does not like the alloy you selected you should change it.

Ditto with finishes and tolerances. Or handling holes or alignment features. If you want the parts made promptly and well, take good advice when it is offered. Your team has experienced people on it and they will perform much better if it is a team project rather than “your” project.

Do not reinforce the stereotype of the “ivory tower” engineer or designer. Stay involved with the manufacturing process by walking the floor on a daily basis. Watch the machining operations. Talk to the operators. Thank them for turning your ideas into real parts.

You will be rewarded in many ways and become a better designer along the way. Your co-workers will even be a bit more forgiving of the occasional typo or poorly written note.

About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.