Over at Coroflot, there’s a job opening listing for a Milwaukee Tool Staff Industrial Designer. I found the job duties and responsibilities to be quite interesting, if not insightful.
Observe users on jobsites to develop understanding of customer requirements and gain inspiration for new product opportunities.
This makes sense. Observe and talk to end users to learn more about their needs and product frustrations.
Drive concept generation through brainstorms, competitive assessments, market opportunities and unmet user needs.
I wonder is what the idea-to-product ratio is. That is, how many ideas don’t get fully developed into products, and why?
Develop ideas through rapid 2D sketching, study models and 3D CAD while considering manufacturing and cost parameters.
A staple of every Milwaukee Tool headquarters tour is seeing a couple of industrial designers actively sketching or illustrating Milwaukee cordless power tools on their Wacom Cintiq tablets.
Communicate the design intent through visual storytelling to gain acceptance by project stakeholders.
What good is a novel design if you can’t sell it to the decision makers?
Thrive in a fast-pace design environment, with the agility to work between several projects concurrently.
I have no doubt that Milwaukee Tool is a busy place to work, especially with the pace they have been developing new power tools, hand tools, accessories, and storage products.
Apply fundamental ergonomics relative to the project. Evaluate concepts for comfort and usability through study models and mock-ups.
Good point. No matter how great a new tool is, no one will use it if it hurts or is overly fatiguing.
Produce documentation necessary to communicate the design intent to global engineering and marketing teams.
Another great point. There are some brands whose representatives simply don’t understand their own products. That doesn’t go well towards making a good impression for anyone.
Create comprehensive presentations which outline concepts to multidisciplinary teams.
Communication is key.
Follow project through all stages leading to production to ensure detailing and design intent is intact.
This is an important one, I think, for ensuring that a product is as good as possible.
From Milwaukee Tool
Coroflot is aimed towards designers. Here is the description of a Staff Industrial Designer posting from the same date, on the Milwaukee Tool job board.
Industrial design at Milwaukee Tool is chartered to create compelling solutions focused on solving critical user needs.
That sounds true to the results.
The primary duties of a Staff Industrial Designer center around the development of new products. Every project entails empathetical understanding of users, the inventive exploration of form and function with consideration for the interactions between the user and the product or system.
“Empathetical understanding of users.” In other words, understanding users’ needs, wants, and existing frustrations or hindrances.
Conceptual exploration is accomplished through competitive assessments, field visits to identify unmet user needs, design trend awareness and purposive ideation. The design intent is communicated through visual storytelling and study models to gain acceptance by the project team.
“Competitive assessments, field visits to identify unmet user needs, design trend awareness and purposive ideation.” That’s a very comprehensive list, insightful too.
Development of the conceptual direction is carried out through 2D sketching, technical illustrations, renderings, 3D CAD and appearance models. Design proposals are reviewed in a phase-gate process to obtain cross-functional consensus.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, that an industrial designer should be adept at different digital modeling techniques.
The designer will follow the solution through all pre-production stages, creating specifications for CFM requirements, product graphics and UI. Maintaining close engagement with process partners to consider cost / schedule / performance trade-offs relating to construction, assembly and manufacturing.
(CMF in product design usually refers to color/materials/finish, and so I assume CFM is the same.)
Collaboration with cross-functional product management and engineering teams is critical to delivering exceptional designs based on uncovered objectives and design criteria. Designers are expected to participate in project meetings, teleconferences as well as leading design reviews with process partners and design peers.
I’d love to see how this works.
So, there you have it, these are the duties and responsibilities of a Staff Industrial Designer at Milwaukee Tool, articulated in two ways.