Hiring outside technical resources

You may have recently thought about hiring temporary technical resources or farming-out a project that is usually done in-house.  It is the wave of the future.  Maybe you were in the process of developing new talent, you had a surge in demand for product that required more talent than current staffing, you were looking for new ideas in an environment that became stale, or you wanted a business partner (of sorts) to share the load.

Benefits While there are numerous benefits to using outside technical resources, this newsletter will discuss four.  First, there is the benefit of new and bright ideas.  As those trained in Lean know, a ‘fresh set of eyes’ is an important part of a successful kaizen event.  The same reason can be used when justifying the hire of temporary tech resources.  Second, this process requires that a scope-of-work be developed.  While short-sighted managers may see this as a downside; results-oriented leaders see this as a process to thoroughly define the project – its boundaries, deliverables, and benefits/risks.  Third, a temporary resource is one that can be focused on a project which leads to reduction in stop-starts and overall project lead-time.  Sometimes the current staff is pulled in fifteen different directions making project completion a long and frustrating event.  Finally, in many organizations there is only one go-to-person.  A temp can provide the back-up an operation needs in the event the go-to needs a vacation, gets promoted or retires early.  This requires a partnership with a local, responsive and broadly experienced resource.  It also requires a commitment on the hiring company to provide ample exposure opportunities. 

Concerns and Considerations There are concerns.  The first is the protection of proprietary information.  While a non-disclosure agreement is a good approach, it is not the sole solution.  Inquiry with your trusted customers and vendors for leads on reputable resources.  Ask for and follow-up on references.  Sometimes, with proper planning an outside resource can provide valuable help without being exposed to guarded trade secrets. Second, an outside resource still requires some sort of management effort, but this becomes reduced with multiple assignments and long-term partnerships.  Probably most thought of, is costs.  Analysis should consider the costs of long-term regular employment (salary, benefits, training etc.) versus the cost of one or more temporary assignments.  Also, effects on sales growth through increased productivity and technology transfer must be considered. 


A typical inductive proximity sensor failure mode

Have you experienced the proximity failure mode where the face of the sensor is worn-off or broken as shown in the picture.  The sensor was adjusted such that it came in contact with the component it was detecting. Not only do you have to replace the part, but you will incur downtime.  Here are some details to consider when installing an inductivity proximity sensor:

  • The rated sensing distance is usually marked on the package and is for a ferrous target
  • Alloys like some stainless steels have a sensing distance of about 85% of rated
  • Non-ferrous metals like brass and aluminum have a sensing distance about 50% of rated
  • Shielded detectors have a sensing distance 50% that of the same diameter unshielded detector
  • The sensing distance increases with the size of the detector (for example, the sensing distance of a 4mm diameter shielded sensor is 0.8 mm, and is 5 mm for a 18 mm diameter shielded sensor)
  • If the area of the target is less than the area of the face of the sensor, the sensing distance is proportional decreased
  • Given the facts above, it can be a real challenge for a small diameter shielded prox to detect the radius of a cam or rounded object without actually touching it.