Thanks for the replies everyone, I really appreciate your opinions here.
It’s true that it’s the current state of Australian manufacturing, although the race to the bottom can only last for so long. My current plan is exactly that, to learn as much as I can and hopefully get some wins here and there along the way.
I agree. My day to day innovations consist of breaking down complex assemblies of sheet parts into a big jigsaw puzzle that all notches together and minimises welding/process time. One idea (that didn’t go very far) was to provide a tablet to each fabricator so that they could see what they were putting together in 3D and be able to explode parts etc. when the drawings were slightly unclear.
There is 1 customer that I have a particular interest in, who are slightly more inclined to appreciate extra design. I suppose, at this stage, the challenge is the age old estimate, make, get paid process that they’ve employed forever. I won’t usually see a project until it’s already been estimated and the customer has accepted, so the cost is predefined and any extra features etc that I’d like to add comes out of margin. In this sense, the customer wants as much as they can get, and the fight for design is internally with my managers before the customer gets to see anything. I would like this to change for valuable clients to provide design first and actual production prices afterwards. Funnily enough, I made some progress with that customers project and managed to get a critical feature through the morning after posting. I think that you’ve given good advice to let the impossible ones slip and to focus on the better projects, I might have more success that way!
Your method for concepts makes sense, I’ll have to give that a shot on my next project. I also like the matrix method, I feel like that would carry the most weight for when I need to convince the internal team that a particular concept is the best option for both us and them. Charging a premium would absolutely help, the hardest clients are always the ones the least willing to pay for anything
The education with the business dev manager is on-going, when I first started I’m very sure that they thought Industrial Designer was a fancy way of saying ‘can use solidworks’.
Again, thanks everyone. I’ll put some of these methods to the test and keep pushing, hopefully there is some progress in the right direction.