Help teams bring complex systems from proven concept to production
Jay Lewis, the principle consultant, taught himself computer programing in high school and was fascinated by the book "Cheaper by the Dozen" about growing up with efficiency expert parents Frank and Ernestine Gilbreath. After graduating with an electrical engineering degree he helped redesign aircraft electronic systems using Value Engineering(VE) principles. He then became a Design For Six Sigma (DFSS) Black Belt teaching and coaching dozens of engineers across many disciplines to use statistics and other tools to solve hard problems faster. From there he helped develop medical device manufacturing processes to improve reliability and yields. After that he was the system engineer for to develop utility scale solar power using sterling engines and giant mirrors. His last role before becoming a consultant was helping develop and manufacture the VS3 communication satellite called the "Mythical Beast" by competitors that said it would be impossible to do so much with so little.
marginalX was founded to help small technology companies do more with less. The name refers to three kinds of margins. Eventually investors expect there to be a profit margin, even if it is slim that can be reinvested to exponentially grow. Engineers seek design margin to ensure everything works as intended even in borderline cases. Program Managers have schedule margin to handle contingencies. Rather than see the saying "Time, cost and quality – Pick two." as a constraint, what if we view technology innovation development as a process that can also be optimized?
For example one tool for risk management is the FMEA. This is a systematic technique for a team to identify risks and brainstorm ways to mitigate them. In practice it can get bogged down into a long, time consuming, tedious process that leads to no improvements if started too late. When used at the earliest opportunity many issues can be eliminated before causing a cascade of extra expenses, delays, and customer impacts.
A core value is to reduce every kind of waste. Over engineering is as bad as under engineering because it drives up development costs and delays shipping to customers. The optimal program delivers a marginally acceptable product barely on time and almost out of funds. Realistically the more innovative aspects of new technologies are also the least predictable so it is be prudent to aim for more than the minimal margin in some areas.
Clients and Employers
Current, past, and recurring
Lunar robotic spacecraft
Space resource harvesting
Linear power generation from renewable fuels
Zero Mass Water
Extract drinking water from the atmosphere with solar power
Stirling Energy Systems
Grid quality concentrated solar-thermal power
Avionics design and manufacturing
US Air Force
Global military air superiority
The marginal X FMEA story
When Honeywell embraced Six Sigma I was a value engineer managing several projects at a time. This made me a natural choice to pioneer the Black belt program in "wave 0". There were several tools we all had to use and demonstrate competency to the Master Black belt. One of these was the "Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)", which could be applied to design or process improvements. It was the only tool I hated. The people I worked with didn't like it either, but after a week of meetings we had a list of things to focus on. We then took a few months to knock those out and estimated the benefits. This was unlike most of the other tools. All of the benefits were hypothetical since most of the changes were eliminating issues that had yet to happen. For most Six Sigma projects there is some baseline problem such as "90% yield, with 9% rework and 1% scrap". The rework almost doubles the labor and the scrap for expensive aerospace computers is pure loss.