Tag Archives: Design Engineering

25 Apr

how to plan, develop and deliver a show property

source for image: Adient.com

Well, it’s now only 48 days until the doors open at Neocon 2017…yikes!

Many of our friends in the furniture business are drag racing to the deadline for installation of show properties and prototypes. Wash, rinse and repeat…it’s the same every year.

The furniture industry is not alone in their lean and compressed approach to new product development. Our work with automotive suppliers and consumer products companies is focused on the development of advanced projects, show properties, mock-ups, and prototypes. These are best- in-class companies with brilliant leadership, professional managers, gifted marketers, and fantastic creative and technical teams. Since the downturn, many of these companies have also accumulated significant stockpiles of cash. They have all the resources to do things well and we still find ourselves with tight timing, almost constant scope changes and team misalignment moving from early ideation to completion of show properties.

These are the top three reasons for this condition with a few suggestions for improved team performance and a better outcome to industry shows… Read More

02 Feb

Fredricks Design Review Autoshow 2017 insights

source for images: Adient.com

Autoshow 2017 insights | Adient AI17 Demonstrator

Our first stop at the NAIAS Detroit Autoshow this year was at the Adient showroom. We were invited to tour the showroom by the Adient Studio Team based in Plymouth, Michigan. We were absolutely blown away with the demonstrator produced by Adient and their key suppliers.

In interest of full disclosure, we were the design and studio engineering resource on the 20% armrest housed in the second-row seating. Although we had seen the rest of the demonstrator in development at the build house, this was our first glimpse into the design thinking on display at Cobo Hall. Wow!

The AI17 demonstrator is a benchmark example of the advanced development of concepts by cross-discipline teams working on different continents. Adient is the leading supplier of seating to the automotive market with development centers and manufacturing facilities around the world. At a time when the cost pressures continue to increase from the OEMs, Adient remains committed to the advancement of seating with a laser focus on the end users, drivers and passengers. A little more about the AI17…

Read More

22 Apr

Fredricks Design Review 3: Artificial Intelligence

In our previous Fredricks Design Reviews, we’ve talked about virtual reality and augmented reality. Now, let’s get into an even fuzzier area of technology and philosophy: artificial intelligence. The term “artificial intelligence” was coined by a computer scientist named John McCarthy in 1955 to describe “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines”.1 Simply stated, artificial intelligence can be thought of as people trying to make computers that “think” like humans: receive some sensory input, make a decision, and react accordingly. We’ll call it “AI” from here on out.

I am by no means an expert in this field, but the implications of AI have led me down a rabbit hole of learning and questioning as new technology often does. Certainly, there are more questions than answers when it comes to the impacts of this rapidly growing field. I keep circling back to a fundamental issue that I’d like to discuss today. Will artificial intelligence be good or bad for humanity? Read More

30 Nov

Ben Fredricks celebrates 6.0 years with our company!

Ben Fredricks joined our family business on November 30, 2009 and it’s been a wonderful journey, so far!

They say that height and talent skip a generation. This is entirely the case in our family. Please note that, Ben is not standing on a soapbox in the photo above.

Ben is a well rounded designer with the ability to sketch, render, model and figure out how things will work when the concepts ultimately go into production. Read More

03 Jun

Jim Biros marks 30 years with Fredricks Design, Inc. today!

Today is a big day for our firm. We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Jim Biros (the handsome guy on the right) with Fredricks Design!

I run the risk of writing too much about our relationship and I do not want to embarrass Jim. He is a very humble guy!

A brief look back…

Jim joined our company on June 3, 1985. We were a start-up with a few local clients in the car and furniture business. All of our work was done on manual drawing boards with pencils and velum. Jim was one of our first designers trained on digital design tools. Cell phones were not introduced until a few years after Jim joined our company! Looking back, it’s hard to believe the journey we have been on together!

Over the years, our clients and teams have consistently commented on Jim’s contribution to projects through his common sense, practical thinking and problem solving abilities. He is a calming influence in the midst of impossible deadlines and technical challenges.

We’ve not researched how many designers stay with the same company throughout their career but it has to be a really, really small number. We only know that we have been blessed to work with Jim for three decades and we look forward to rounding out our careers together!

Please join us in celebrating Jim’s big day…a world of thanks for all of our work together!

31 Mar

Auto Show 2015 | a project case study

Overview

All of our clients struggle with the same challenges; they have limited internal design and engineering resources, too many projects and not enough time to complete them. They are also looking for fresh insights to develop new products that build an emotional connection with the end user. This situation is prevalent across all markets and companies.

The annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is held in January in Detroit. Many of our clients begin scrambling in early fall for resources to meet tight timelines and technical challenges to prepare properties and prototypes for the show.

This brief case study follows our work with a key client from September 2014 through the installation of show properties at NAIAS in January 2015.

How we started…

Read More

27 Oct

Bongo: A Case Study in Blue Ocean Strategy

Bongo: A Case Study in Blue Ocean Strategy

We work with clients across a broad range of activities to accelerate the development of user-focused, differentiated, smart product solutions. This case study highlights the full cycle development of low-voltage power solutions for applications in the retail environment.

we help our clients sail into blue ocean.

Several years ago we sparked on an opportunity to partner with one of our clients in the retail space. Harbor Industries is a third generation, privately held Michigan enterprise focused on the design and build of point-of-purchase displays for the retail environment.

Harbor identified product diversification as a key to their long-term success in the demanding retail industry. The company has been successful over three generations in meeting the needs of retail customers in a range of markets and product categories. Read More

05 Sep

Spontaneous Collaboration

spark-final

Spontaneous Collaboration

Fredricks Design has built a business on the ability to collaborate around solving product development challenges. We regularly do this using internal brainstorm sessions and structured workshops involving participants from clients’ teams and manufacturing resources. We’ve recognized the benefit of putting key people together and the resulting synergy. The value of these “formal” gatherings is clearly documented with stacks of concept sketches and lists of opportunities to explore further.

But sometimes collaboration occurs more organically, is unscheduled and unstructured and is initiated around a very specific task or problem. Often this spontaneous collaboration occurs when someone is trying to work outside of their skillset or in unfamiliar territory. Sometimes an idea just won’t “click,” but they feel the drive to push-on until a solution is achieved. Read More

29 May

Fredricks Design, Inc. 30 Years

Fredricks Design, Inc. 30 Years

Our story…

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Fredricks Design, Inc. The story of our 2nd generation, family run product development business is a case study in big dreams realized through hard work, good luck, and our commitment to doing things really well.

Fredricks was founded in 1984 in a little cottage on the north bank of the Grand River in Grand Haven, Michigan. The startup was based on the shared vision of two brothers, Maury (myself) and Bruce Fredricks. We developed the framework of our vision for the new company over wine and tapas while living and working in Andalucia, Spain. I returned to Michigan in 1984 and Bruce returned stateside to join the startup the following year. Read More

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