PERA’S Core Corner: A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words; Real Money, Too - Engine Builder Magazine
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PERA’S Core Corner: A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words; Real Money, Too

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After attending the 2006 PERA Spring Tech Program in Dallas, TX, at the end of March, I came back with information that must be shared with everyone.

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Imagine being able to have something that will provide you a thousand times the return every time that you use it? Do you think that you could get excited about that? Better yet, what if you could provide something that would be a world-wide translator, allowing no matter who came in contact with it to understand exactly what you are trying to convey. Well, that product exists and it is available to each and every one of us: digital photography.

Now, before you turn the page and start to wonder if I was spending more time consuming spirits than attending the program’s technical sessions, just take a look at Figure 1. Is there anyone who doesn’t know immediately what is being communicated by those symbols or images?

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, and everyone can understand it then why is it so valuable to you in the automotive engine aftermarket? Simple: communication. That is the single most important tool for your business, regardless of its size or infrastructure. Whether you’re a PER (production engine remanufacturer) or CER (custom engine rebuilder), without a solid communication stream at all levels you will not succeed.

So if you stuck it out this far and you’re still willing to listen, let’s look at some of the things that can be impacted by the simple use of digital photography.

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•Identification

Being able to identify not only the core engine but the manner in which the components are assembled to it is critical. If you are receiving an engine for the first time, not only do you need information pertaining to assembly, but with today’s bi-metal DOHC engines disassembly is equally important.

To enhance that situation in the future, take digital photos during the entire disassembly process and don’t forget to use lots of close ups for those areas that require additional detail.
The ordering of parts becomes much easier when you can compare it to the one that you have in your hand. Now when you look up a part you can also see the image of it.

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• Training

Anyone in your organization can be easily trained using photography. Imagine that you are explaining the intricacies of assembling a particular cylinder head, block or a front cover of a specific application that requires different bolts and studs in the exact locations. Would having an illustration be of value? What if all that information was in a folder that was in a given department and was tabbed by MMY (Make, Model Year). What if you took photos as you explained to someone grinding a crankshaft the manner in which it should be marked? That way everyone in the organization would know what has been done.


Taking photos and keeping track of the assembly specifications, instructions and torque sequence information is fairly easily accomplished using various software packages. You can create a zero-tolerance failsafe in assembly through digital imagery and illustrations (see Figure 2).

• Marketing Your Product

What if you could bring each of your potential customers in for a tour of your facility? Show them your shop and the personnel, show them your machining operations, show them your quality assurance equipment, show them your ASE certifications.

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Notice I continue to use the word “show.” If you took the time to do these things personally you would no longer have the ability to do any work. That is where good digital imagery and perhaps a Web site will do the selling that you would have spent hundreds of hours doing otherwise.

•Warranty and Failure Analysis

No matter how good you are, there are unfortunate times when something fails prematurely.

Regardless of who’s at fault, the identification of the cause is what will bring swift resolution and certainly retention of the customer. Being able to show your customer the cause of the failure with strong photos and documentation puts you in the class of a professional and that in itself will bring a competitive advantage and ultimately an amicable resolve (see Figure 3).

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These are just a few of the things that can be done with digital imagery. They can all open the lines of communication within your organization and with your vendors, suppliers, sales personal and core suppliers – just about everyone but your accountant because all he needs are the numbers.
So make your numbers better with one of the most powerful planning and information tools that you will ever invest in: digital photography. Without it, plan on having no future at all in this industry.

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