If there is one thing in my professional life that I really loathe it is documenting a project. On the other hand it is absolutely essential. Resolving this paradox has forced me to create a system that ensures that the quality of the design solution endures and provides the customer and myself with real dividends that repay the time and money invested many times over.

Just creating a design that works might be enough for an engineering hobbyist but it does not cut it in the professional world. Well-documented designs, in spite of my dislike, are fundamental to both the efficient creation and ongoing technical administration of motion control system design and implementation.

Complex engineering projects tend to be multi-disciplinary so there is a basic need to share information in a commonly understood ‘language’. My weapon of choice is a CAD system called E-Plan. Not only is this a great design tool but it also automates a lot of tasks for me, such as parts lists, sanity checking and manuals, saving valuable time. It forces me to produce standardized output that my associates can use straightaway and stores commonly used components and design elements that speeds the task of completing the detailed design blueprint. In the pedantic way typical of computer software it will also help identify where errors may have crept in in the myriad levels of a design.

I am then able to provide a complete parts list to my assistant to source and then pass the complete package of design and parts to a panel builder to put together. As well as providing him with a clear and unequivocal plan to follow, with every wire, connection and component identified and laid out, it will then also provide the documentation for ongoing maintenance and faultfinding. I am then free to focus on the intellectual property that is my business.

This all helps me to feel better about a task I loathe but recognise is vital to providing customers with a professional result and ongoing support.

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