In 2009, a leading engine manufacturer was expanding its reach in the North American heavy-duty truck market. While other top-selling competitors carried the market standard engine brake developed by JVS Engineering, this engine manufacturer’s brake lacked the retarding power to be competitive in the market.
Needing a solution quickly, they turned to JVS Engineering for help. Could the team deliver a custom solution in less than half the time of typical deadlines?
Knowing the risks but confident in their capabilities, JVS Engineering accepted the challenge. What they didn’t expect was the difference this project would make in the product development process for their team and for future customers.
The tight timeline left JVS Engineering with only five weeks for design and testing, compared to the typical 7-12 months. Both companies knew that success hinged on leveraging concurrent engineering practices and a highly collaborative working relationship.
With concurrent engineering’s approach of simultaneously conducting design, analysis and production layout, the team kept speed as a top priority without sacrificing quality and performance.
“The only way this was going to happen was if we worked together. It was ‘all hands on deck,’ or failure was a certainty,” said John Lester, the lead project engineer at the time, and now Director of Engineering Services.
A cross-functional team from engineering, manufacturing and marketing met daily to collaborate on the design and development. They also created a virtual work environment where they used online tools to share models, alter the design and fix problems in real-time without disrupting the schedule. The collaboration ensured they were always in alignment.
After a month of painstaking work and long hours, the team coordinated a product demonstration with the customer’s executive team in Colorado’s Eisenhower Pass, a vertical descent of 2,363 feet over a distance of 8.6 miles.
The performance of the new engine brake would soon be revealed.
Testing the customer’s product against JVS Engineering’s prototype, the demonstration at Eisenhower Pass was critical. In the end, JVS Engineering’s technology proved to be far superior, providing 50% more retarding performance over their in-house engine brake design.
After the success of the field test, the team continued to assess the dynamic performance and durability of the system while implementing modifications to optimize the manufacturability, packaging, cost and assembly.
JVS Engineering met all milestones on time including installation and setup of a manufacturing line to meet start of production. Overall, a process that would have normally taken 18-24 months was accomplished in nine months.
Ultimately, the engine manufacturer achieved its goal of having a reliable product that continues to rival its competition and protect its market share.
Energized from their success, the team now had a bigger question. Why couldn’t they demonstrate this capability for all of their programs?
This caused JVS Engineering to look critically at other speed-to-market projects. By leveraging concurrent engineering, this allowed them to compress their overall time-to-market by 50%.
Innovation comes in many forms. The most promising and risky opportunities are ripe places to solve the problems of today and set the stage for making a difference tomorrow.