Axenics’ Engineering and Design Department
The engineering and design team at Axenics is headed by Nelson Hernandez and Ernest Coolong, our resident “problem solvers.” The team works with customers and potential customers on their designs; researches new parts and components; automates processes on the production floor; and repairs parts and builds assemblies from scratch.
Axenics’ engineering and design process
Customers provide an explanation of their component or part needs by sharing CAD drawings. Sometimes what they give us is a simple, hand-drawn sketch as their idea. CAD drawings are often clearly labeled with important details for the design process. That makes our process of engineering a solution relatively smooth. Sometimes what they supply is a simple, hand-drawn sketch as their idea, or a picture of an existing assembly they want to modify.
We believe the best solutions are built on strong foundations, so basic drawings mean there’s going to be some back and forth between us and the customer. For example, a customer sent a picture of a panel and asked if we could make it. The answer was, “Technically, yes, but we need a lot of information to get there.”
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Nelson says he can tell right away if a drawing is in the company’s wheelhouse. Axenics has a systematic approach for handling engineering and design challenges.
Both Nelson and Ernest have years of hands-on experience with Axenics’ areas of expertise, including assembly, bending, and welding. They suggest options for customers, such as using CNC tube bending in place of welding to minimize production time and cost.
A recent challenge
One recent challenge was a piece of machinery that gets used daily and involves a dye powder. The dye is manually added. While a measured amount is added at a time, it is more than the solvent can dilute at one time, leading to an inefficient use of the dye. It is unfeasible to add the proper amount at a time manually, as the technician would have to add a small amount every 15 minutes. Ernest is working on a system to automate the process.
“My favorite part of the job is problem solving,” Ernest said. “For example, adding a dry powder (dye) to a system that has 100% humidity, without it turning to a paste and gumming up the mechanism. OK, how do we solve that? How much dye gets added at a time, and at what time intervals? I created an automated process to address these issues. Then, I designed a light sensor for the inside of the machine so the computer sees exactly when it needs to add additional dye for the process.”
Ernest’s role is more hands-on than some engineering and design professionals. He’s often on the production floor engineering solutions or fixing machinery so the technicians can produce more efficiently.
“What got me started was building devices or writing procedures to either improve manufacturing processes or speed them up,” Ernest said.
One of the larger engineering and design projects that has shifted into production is commercial hydrogen fuel dispensers. So far, the team has built three that are in use overseas.
“That project touches every area of our production,” Ernest said.
Nelson and Ernest have main projects that they work on throughout the year, but often need to address production issues on a daily basis. Technicians look to them for clarification on prints or procedures; systems stop functioning properly; customers’ needs change, causing prints and/or procedures to change, they respond to each need as it arises.
“I have a plan on what I want to accomplish in my head on my drive in, but often as soon as I walk in the door, somebody is waiting for me to fix a problem,” Nelson said. A day in the life of Axenics’ problem solvers is never the same.