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Julian Wooster – our best kept secret
When I asked Julian, “how would you best describe what you do within Plunkett Associates?” he replied, “my official title is “Design Solutions Engineer” but even I’m not sure what that means!”
Let me elaborate, Julian is our CAD expert and a certified Solidworks Professional – but he is so much more than that… he is quite simply our go to for anything design related and our one-man CAD department!
Designs to ensure suitability for prototyping, tooling & production.
Essentially this involves converting designs into 3D models ensuring suitability for prototyping, tooling, and subsequent production. Things have changed enormously over the last 5 years and whereas previously production parts would go on to be manufactured elsewhere, these days we get involved in the manufacturing as well, adding another dimension to the process.
Consequently, our machinists, toolmakers and moulders at our sister company, Adept Precision, are provided with supporting data and drawings of tooling, jigs and fixtures for CNC machining, assembly and moulding.
In between, (for a bit of light relief!) Julian still prepares quotes and essentially, ensures the client gets what they want. As a team, we take pride in the fact that using our combined experience and skills, very often thinking laterally (and definitely outside the box), we are able to support client’s ideas and turn them into reality. We look to ensure manufacturing risks are reduced, designs are reviewed to safeguard suitability for subsequent production with the aim being predictability, repeatability and economic satisfaction. Depending on the complexity of the part, that can be a pretty tall order sometimes! You can see some of the projects we have brought to fruition on our Examples page.
Developing Designs means data is checked, checked and checked again.
Time Pressures are a constant challenge as understandably ‘time means money’ and very often clients need parts yesterday! Under these circumstances, developing designs can be a worry as data needs to be checked, double checked and triple checked to make sure that every detail has been accounted for and nothing has been missed.
Additionally, there are the process and manufacturing restrictions to be considered! It is essential that designs are suitable for the processes to be used, and bear in mind this may involve more than one when you consider prototyping and subsequent production requirements. It is always preferable to have time to be able to liaise with clients over these decisions rather than them having to make snap decisions that may be costly down the track.
We’ve gone from being an additive supplier to an additive user.
Things have changed dramatically since Julian first joined Plunkett Associates 8 years ago. The industry and subsequently the business have grown so much since then, and with the formation of Plunkett’s sister company, Adept Precision 3 years ago, the company has seen the arrival of new faces followed by an ever growing toolroom plus a mouldshop which sees demands for increasing quantity requirements almost on a daily basis.
As a result, certain things have had to change. With a larger team communication has become more efficient - and as Julian pointed out, it’s no longer possible for him and Tim to shout across the desk to each other as they might have done in the beginning when it was just the two of them!
We also have far more procedures in place for evaluation and quality control – getting ISO 9001:2015 certification for the management of our work system processes has been yet another huge positive change…
And let’s be honest we are actually in a completely different industry now from when we started. Plunkett Associates has migrated from predominantly being an additive supplier to much more of an additive user; very much involved still with low volume prototyping, but customer requirements have led to a demand for much higher production volumes.
As a result, our CAD work has shifted slightly from purely tweaking designs to make them suitable for manufacture, to an increasing amount of creating tool designs for parts instead.
Making the most challenging designs manufacturable
At the end of the day, Julian’s skillset is such that he has the ability to make even the most challenging designs manufacturable! His success is based on communication, working with colleagues and clients, collating the relevant information from all parties and then working together to ensure the end product is as the client wants.
This involves taking design concepts and reviewing them carefully, taking into account the process and the economics, and then sorting the data to make that concept viable. Clients who have worked with him trust his judgement and value his advice.
Tim Plunkett states, “Julian is central to our ability to operate as a manufacturing consultancy and allows us to produce the parts as well.”
Ooops, we may have just let the cat out of the bag….