In a new series, the editors of NASA Tech Briefs magazine catch up with everyday engineers about their unique responsibilities and challenges. This week, we highlight fellow reader and product engineer of filtration products, Chander Saini.
Chander Saini, Product Engineer, Parker Hannifin Corp.
Where do you work?
I work for a company called Parker Hannafin, and the division is Racor. We’re in Modesto, CA, and we manufacture fuel filtration systems, primarily diesel.
What are your day-to day responsibilities?
My title is Product Engineer, and I basically oversee the ongoing production of filter products. If there are any issues, I get involved with suppliers or in-house processing. I play a part in the line operations, tool design fixtures, and so forth, the materials and all the processes involved in putting together these products.
What other roles are you playing?
There’s cost-estimating, hands-on activities with the day-to-day production, and lean programs, which enable us to build products more efficiently, quickly, and cheaply. There’s training, procedure writing, updating drawings and so forth.
What are you working on now?
We’re making design improvements on some existing products. For example, in the filter family that I’m responsible for, we have a situation where a seal is not performing to our satisfaction, and to the customer’s satisfaction, so I’m basically re-engineering the seal design and the interfacing components to provide for a better seal, in conjunction with a check valve.
Are there any unique engineering and design challenges for the particular products you design compared to other products out there?
I’m somewhat limited to what I can do from my computer, like modeling simulation, finite element analysis, and CFD flow testing through our products. That’s more on the R&D side of things, which I don’t deal with directly, but I have an involvement in it that’s driven by the requirements that ultimately come from the customer.
Who are you working with, and where are you in the creation process?
I have my hands in pretty much everything. I have to look at all the aspects of the product, basically from start to finish, including packaging and shipping, just to ensure that the product is safeguarded, protected, and delivered to the customer.
What are your biggest challenges when you’re trying to get something to work?
Typically, getting everybody on the same page. Also, resources: money, funding for building, testing, and prototyping are also a challenge. Resources like time. You can only to do so much, and progress is usually pretty slow, just because of the nature of what we do. You can’t rush what we do. Everything has to be validated and tested, approved internally, then approved with the customer.
What kinds of time constraints are you dealing with?
Typically, we don’t have any constraints, but we generally try to act on the task as quickly as possible; three to six months would be a normal timeframe for the release of a new product. If it’s a modification to an existing product, then the timeframe is a little bit less.
What tools help you do your job better?
Pro/E is the CAD drafting tool that allows us to model everything on the computer and test it out for fit and function. If necessary, we go to further make a prototype.
What are the advantages of rapid prototyping?
We do that quite a bit actually. Every chance we get, we can run a model of it, which usually takes a few hours, and then we have the actual model in our hands to look at, and that allows us to review it and assess it. It’s a lot easier if it’s in your hand, and you can see the size of the product.
What is the most satisfying part of your engineering work?
The designing aspect probably in ProE, and developing the models on the computer. That, to me, is the most fun part. Of course, that’s not the only thing that I do, but that’s what sticks out.