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Could your business benefit from some 'girl-power'?

Written by Tyral

Women2

 

How many women do you work with? My guess is probably not many.

That’s because women are under-represented in the engineering field both here in New Zealand and the rest of the world. And we believe this is something that needs to change in order for our field to move forward.

Studies show that diversity within the workplace leads to increased innovation, motivation and creativity by bringing new talents, skills, perspectives and experiences to the team.

Here at FIK Laser, we are proud of the diverse culture we’re creating and want to encourage others to do the same.

Last week I sat down with some of the women from the team to see what they love about the engineering field and what we could do to encourage more females to join the field to help propel it further forward. 

Here's what they had to say.

 

The female’s perspective...

 

What skills/experience/attitude do women bring to an engineering business?

“We are problem solvers, good communicators and excellent multi-taskers. We also look outside the square and bring a totally different perspective to the problem. Innovation is big for me – approaching every problem from a different angle means more efficiency, growth and creativity. Also, I do like to hassle the guys!”

“Women are well organised, have positive attitudes, are great communicators and problem solvers and have a strong attention to detail. All of these things are required and are extremely beneficial in the office of an engineering business.”

 

What do you like about working for an engineering-based business?

“No two days are the same. I love the variety of customers and the work we produce. My role allows me to be creative.”

“I love working in engineering as the people are straight up, easy to get along with and really creative. We constantly work on resolving our customer's problems and we get to do cool things every day. I love that we get to contribute to the bigger picture by being part of a strong, capable team”

 

What could engineering businesses do to attract more females?

“Just employ more women! Females might not have the same physical strength on average, however, we bring plenty of other capabilities. In our workshop, we have three males and three females and we get “sh*t” done. Sarah also has the office, workshops and customers fully organised! We’re a great team together.”

“Give women the chance at the job, we can do just as good as men. Employing more women will make us feel much more comfortable knowing that the business has a great attitude towards women working in engineering businesses. Oh yeah, and maybe more good looking men too!”

“Have a gender-neutral attitude around engineering roles and accept that women have the same ability as men.”

 

Do you have any other comments you’d like to add?

“I do really enjoy the work, the people and seeing the work being accomplished. There is something so rewarding about seeing the project come together. I also love the physicality of the job and the different work styles coming together to form a great team environment”

“The most important thing for any business is to have clear, concise communication and training so that all staff are able to carry out their jobs successfully and with a sense of achievement and enjoyment. With the right tools at their disposal, everyone can succeed.”

"A well-rounded team doesn’t consist of just one skill-set, so why should it consist of one gender? A diverse team encourages growth, enjoyment in your role and innovation."

 

From a male's perspective…

 

In my experience, having women on the team adds another set of eyes and a different perspective when problem-solving. I also find that women bring a focus to the shop. They make the rest of the team focus toward the goal of getting a job done well and on time.

So what do you think? Could your business benefit from some “girl-power”? Let's all be more open to having women in the industry. Unfortunately, engineering is often still considered a “mans job” when really employers should be looking at the skills women bring and being a good fit for your business.

 


Profile cutting: 7 mistakes engineers commonly make

Written by Tyral

Laser cutting

For many businesses, outsourcing profile cutting work makes sense. It’s a specialised process using specialised machinery. No point investing time and money in it when you can contract the service as needed (especially to pros like FIK Laser!).

But it pays not to rush out and chose the first supplier you come across or the one offering the cheapest deals. You need to do your homework to ensure you select the best option for your business’s needs.

And it doesn’t stop there. 

If you want to get the best results from outsourced profile cutting you need to do your bit too. Here are 7 common mistakes engineers make when contracting profile cutting.

 

#1. Don’t provide dimensions on supplied drawings

If you provide scale drawings but don’t include key dimensions you can run into trouble. When the cutting machine software converts, scale errors can occur. It is always best to include dimensions to avoid any errors creeping in.

 

#2. Cut costs with materials

The quality of the material you cut will reflect in the finished product. Make sure you specify or agree on the material to be used for your job. Don’t go for the cheapest, always think fit for purpose.

 

#3. Think providing own material will be cheaper

Profile cutting businesses will often have better buying power over certain materials than what you do. Don’t assume providing your own material will be cheaper. Get a quote.

 

#4. Don’t use the right tool for the job

When it comes to profile cutting there are several tools for the job. The right choice depends on your finished product and what is important. Here are the main differences between Laser, Plasma, and Water Jet cutting.

 

Laser cutting: Uses laser beams to cut materials.

Pros:

  • Fast speed
  • Clean cutting - allows for cutting of complex shapes
  • Accurate
  • Reliable
  • Cuts many materials of varying thicknesses
  • Can cut very narrow widths
  • Cuts both metals and nonmetals

Cons:

  • Can be expensive compared to other processes
  • High power consumption
  • Hard to use on reflective metals

 

Plasma cutting: Utilizes an electrically-conductive gas to transfer energy from an electrical power source through a plasma cutting torch and into the material that is being cut.

Pros:

  • Cuts a wide variety of metals
  • Economical
  • Rapid cutting speeds

Cons:

  • Less accurate than water and laser
  • Dealing with different materials requires that you change cutting edge
  • Produces fumes in the cutting process
  • Poor edge quality on some materials

 

Waterjet cutting: Uses a high-pressure jet of water to cut a wide variety of materials.

Pros:

  • Can cut into virtually any kind of material
  • Does not overheat the material adjacent to the cut thus maintaining its form.
  • Can cut thick materials

Cons:

  • Slow cutting speeds for most metals
  • Noisy, unless when cutting is done underwater

 

#5. Skip the test cut

It’s tempting to jump right in and start cutting to save time and money. But as a precaution, it’s always a good idea to start with a test cut to ensure you get the results you want.

 

#6. Think short term

We often see people making a decision based on their current volumes and product mix. That’s fine if things are likely to stay the same, but if you have growth plans, make sure you pick a profile cutter that can adjust to your changing volumes. Talk to them about lead times, capacity, volume pricing, troubleshooting, service etc.

 

#7. Switch suppliers all the time

Shopping around for the best deal does not always get the best results. Instead look to form a long-term working relationship with your profile cutter. That way you’ll get better service and advice.

 

As a family run business, here at FIK Laser, we pride ourselves on our service and the excellent working relationships we develop with our customers. We are dedicated to delivering quality precision laser cut profiles and parts and can cut almost any material, from one-offs to mass production.

Talk to us today about how we can help you.

 


EMEX: Why you should take your team in 2020 (plus tips for a productive day)

Written by Paulina

 

Ever been to EMEX?

This year three people from our team went along to check out EMEX 2018 in Auckland.

EMEX is New Zealand’s largest engineering, technology and manufacturing expo. You get to see all the industry supplier innovations and developments in one place.

It was so worthwhile, that next time we think we’ll take the whole team. It’ll be a great learning experience and also good for team building and comradery. Yes, that’s quite an expense when you take into account a whole day of lost production, plus the costs of travel and sustenance, but we believe it will be an investment

And here’s why.

 

Why attending events as a team is gold

 

It sparks ideas and conversations

Time away from day to day business looking at the latest developments and technology is inspiring. We all got to see and experience the bigger picture of what’s out there (and not just in our industry). It inspires the whole team, focussing everyone on the future.

You get multiple perspectives

If you go to the expo alone you only see things one way. Going with team members with different skill sets and experience opens opportunities. You might walk past or dismiss something but a team mate might see the opportunities.

It’s active team building

Spending the day together seeing and talking about innovation and technology builds bonds between team members. You have a shared experience. And one that keeps giving long after the show. It gets your team more invested in the business. Especially if their opinion is being heard and implemented.

It’s more fun

And lastly, it’s more fun with people to talk to. As much as there is exciting stuff to see at these events they can also be dull in parts. So it’s good to share.

 

Top tips for a good day out at EMEX

If you’re planning a visit to a trade show such as EMEX in the future, here are a few tips from our team.

 

Pre-plan where you want to go 

Although it’s not big compared to international expos, there’s still a fair bit to see (and there are many distractions and ‘toys’ that can eat up your time if you’re not careful.) If you’re going to the show to research particular equipment or expertise then mark out your route in advance. Download a floorplan and highlight your must stop stands. That way you’ll be sure to cover off what you planned (then you can look at the ‘toys’ later)

Split up to cover more ground then share the highlights

With multiple sets of legs, you can divide and conquer. Split up and scout out the stands of most interest. Then get back together and share your intel. That way no one misses out on any of the good stuff.

Have a debrief

We had a great debrief in the car on the way back to Tauranga, but you may prefer a nice cold Ale at a nearby pub. Make sure you get the most out of your day by capturing any actions and learnings. That’s best to do while it’s fresh in your mind.

Bring your own food

And one last tip - bring your own food! One criticism of the event would be the food. It wasn’t that great, it was pretty pricey and there were long queues. We reckon next time we’re going to pack our own lunch.