Empathy in Engineering Part 4: The Right Tool for the Job

After you’ve gone through the process of listening intently to the concerns of the operator/assembler, approaching them with empathy and compassion, you can then make their needs a reality. Technology like additive engineering allows us to take the story, run with it, and quite literally create a happy ending. The process of building accommodations with an empathetic approach is no different than building any other manufactured item.

Once you have reviewed the data of the specific technical criteria required for the application, formulate the design. Consider the request of the user or operator as part of the criteria of the design input; their feedback is added data. In the Fit, Form, and Function scenario of part design, this allows the end user to provide as much of the fit and form input as they can. This will result in more ownership of the process, a more effective result, and it will encourage a higher percentage of usage of the device by the operator. 

By utilizing modeling software such as SolidWorks, Autodesk, or Catia, create the part. Possibly run off a print or JPEG of the design to receive additional input from the operator and incorporate any relevant changes. This exchange is invaluable in creating a dialog of genuine trust and concern with the operator.

   When utilizing 3D printing, consider the application and nuances of the part, and what materials would best suit the application. Temperature requirements, need for chemical resistance, UV resistance, or color coding to support Kaizen and SixSigma methodologies and initiatives, are all factors to consider when deciding. 

The overall goal in this process is to produce the right tool for the job, exactly what the individual user/operator requires, keeping their personal needs and story in mind. By treating personal experience as of equal importance with the usual data you would need to produce the part, the engineer shows empathy and compassion, a valuing of the operator’s needs, and as a result, shows the operator that they are valued. 

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