By Jennifer Ferrero, APR
How many engineers does it take to change a light bulb? At Electroimpact, all 700+ employees might be involved in unscrewing the light bulb, designing a new one, developing a prototype, testing it for quality, and sending it off to be changed. Learn more about this unique business model.
In most organizations, departments and functions are either centralized or decentralized.
In a centralized business, all decisions are made from one location, usually by the CEO. From there, business functions and tasks are routed out through each department – human resources, accounting, marketing and so on.
In a decentralized business, each department or silo of the organization makes its own decisions about hiring, marketing, accounting, etc…
Each model has its own value and it depends on the type of company – large or small/products or services – to determine the success of the model.
The Mukilteo facility is strategically located near the Boeing Everett plant, and other suppliers to Boeing’s aerospace manufacturing supply chain. The facility consists of several warehouse-type buildings, each with its own machine tooling equipment, custom developed by Electroimpact engineers. There is a large office environment that is an engineer’s dream – an open concept, collaborative room, with multiple monitors per table and fast-paced CAD on all screens. Mostly men, there were a few female engineers in the room, work furiously on CAD to hone their designs, while others may be presenting a concept to a peer group, or working on a prototype. Think of the type of kids who loved getting out all of their LEGOs spread across the kitchen table. But their work doesn’t stop at their desktop.
The next step in a project for the Electroimpact engineers is to test their theory of the design to ensure that it works. An engineer is wholly responsible for their project from start-to-finish. They may be found downstairs making prototypes on CNC machines or working in a neighboring warehouse on building or developing a robot. These are trained people with multi-disciplinary skill-sets.
The company has customers around the world with many warehouse-sized, multi-ton machines. At Boeing’s Renton plant, they are using a number of Electroimpact systems to build airplane wings.
All engineers are hands-on in their work and are routinely in-touch with their clients. When the product ships, it has the name of the lead engineer and the phone number. If there is ever any problem with a product, that Engineer is responsible. Hempstead said that he sometimes gets calls in the middle of the night from an overseas customer who has a question about something he designed years ago.
Hempstead noted that this is the best and most responsible model for this type of work. When they hire, naturally they would like talented employees – but it goes beyond that. He said that they have to be independent, responsible people who can both work independently and as a team. They need to be the most well-rounded workers who can go from sales-to-design-to-production while being conscientious about their work and the end result.
You might call the Electroimpact model “integrated,” but no matter how you cut it, it’s a unique manufacturing model that couples a modern approach with keen responsibility for product delivery.