R&D Management

The success of a company’s R & D activities, to a great extent depends on R & D Management. In the article entilted “R & D Organization” I had pointed out that the Top Management is the hidden executive of R & D department as part of the company. For R & D management, the company’s general policy to be followed and the location of R & D in the organization of the company have the greatest impact. But the real impact emerges with R & D department’s own organization.

The Structure of R & D

Numerous alternatives may be considered in configuration of R & D department. Management of research engineers team, management of technical experts and technicians team, management of  branch groups, divided management, single-headed management, free style working management etc. can be used as the method of management. Here, naturally the method that is most effective and most likely to the company is expected to be selected. So, the proper method is not sole for management, every company may have a different correct method of management. It is not so practicable to claim that a method used for a university or research institute’s R & D management will also work for a manufacturing company operating in the food industry. But without a shadow of a doubt we have a point, the characteristics of the R & D manager determines the fate of R & D activities

Who is R & D Manager???

R & D manager, as may be the head of a team of just three members, may also be a director who contains several departments under his management. But for both, target is research and development to be done. The manager’s most important attribute to direct toward this target is the “leadership” character. R & D manager should be a leader, thus should be able to drag along the team. Leadership character, relies on many attributes to be holding on. To be the launcher of the processes, to make coaching at every point needed, to be a role model so as to reflect his expectations and to be a mediator enough as to bring different opinions together, are the most obvious character traits.

The most widely accepted idea for some company’s managers is to select the oldest or the one who does his job best as the R & D manager… Although it works sometimes, this is a wrong and an amateur type of idea which is usually seen in small companies with a symbolic R & D department. Assigning an employee as the R&D manager just because he is the oldest, technically knows best or does his job well, but far away from leadership characteristics, will lead the R&D department to inefficiencies and  chaos;

This amateur step leads the department to inefficiency because a good researcher is lost.. moreover got dull by loading him with administrative duties and made busy. This step leads to a chaos because the R&D manager may insist on a fault that he thinks to be correct…apart from the mediator and analyst role appraised to him, he becomes the source of the conflict in the R&D team. He may become closed to any kind of technical or social idea from the team members with an approach as “I know best the technical truth, the authority is on me“. This causes among the team members to more widely accept the lacking leadership qualities of the manager, thus the weakness.

However, what is expected from R & D manager is just directing his team as a leader… Knowing the business can bring a plus in terms of operation, but it is certainly not a requirement. A good R & D manager, namely leader, can manage successfully both a textile design team or the team that develop electronic technology. A leader R & D manager can also manage succesfully a researcher who is an expert in his business and more experienced than his manager. Not only for R & D, but in  general, departments managed by a “leader” show higher performance. The subordinates who do not belive in leadership of their manager, will go on their own way at every opportunity they find…

Establishing and continuously strengthening the team spirit increases the power of R & D managers. In this regard, the most important ideas that the R&D manager inoculates to his team should be:  engineers, technicians, experts and titles so on are in opeartion just pointing out the links of the chain, to have the chain strong it had to be the team strong, the teams need to be established by possibly different job titles as rings of tightly connected together. This not only increases employee motivation, but also change the employee’s perspective, increases the sense of ownership.

Although the management style to be used can vary according to the company policy, R & D team and the sector worked in, on the basis, R & D is a matter of “project management” of specific rules. The R & D manager following a systematic process for source, time, budget and other parameters is the key to the success no matter which sector he is in. Planning, advanced targeting, but judicious estimates, in commercial terms is one of the ways that will lead to success.

In general we can say that R & D management is; not limited with sharp criteria, but a leader manager, a team with team spirit and the organization with freedom in discipline…

What is ElectroStatic Discharge, ESD?

Electrostatic Discharge, ESD, is the very fast electricity flow caused by apporaching or contacting to each other of two oppositely charged object. Besides the charged objects, the materials whose charges are seperated or polarized can also be the source of ESD. The cause of ESD is the static electricity charge. For a certain polarized object, electricity remains as potential, stationary. In case of contact with an object at different potantial, the stationary charges start to flow from one object to the other, and this is known as “discharge”. If the potential difference is too high, the discharge process doesn’t need a contact. Depending on the environment (for example air), the medium loses its insulation and becomes conducting when the sufficient distance is achieved by approaching (for air, 1 cm for a potential of 30 kV). This is called “electrical breakdown”.  What actually happens is increasw of the electrical field between the objects, inversely proportional to the distance, and to cause loose of insulation of the media.

The comb rubbing to hair, or the ballon to sweater…

So how does the static electricity that causes ESD occur? The most common form is by friction, as we know from primary school times…all of us probably have seen the experiments, electrical charging of a balloon or a comb when rubbed to hair or sweater…Or we have experienced the crackling when taking the sweater off. A sort of charging of different chemical structures by contact, also known as “triboelectric”. It can be explained as charging one object positively and the other negatively after contacting them and then seperating. The seperation of charges under high electric field can also be the base to source of ESD.

In fact, we all meet each other with ESD in our daily life. After walking on a carpet floor and reaching the door to handle, the “click” we hear and the startle response we give…we feel the same thing when we touch the metallic body of the car after we get out, or touching the metal side arms of a treadmill after running…It is undrestandable how the events occur, from the information I have outlined above. The friction of our shoes with the carpet or the clothes we wear with the seat of the car causes our body to be charged with static electircity, and when these charges find a conductive medium (the car’s chasi, door’s handle, treadmill’s arms) they immidiately flows to that object. The volume of the voice we hear or if we’re in a dark environment the intensity of the light we see depends on the amount of charge we have.

Oh My God..! I Crush..!

After the information I gave and the summary of the event, we understand that the first sentence we have after the “click” and the startle response,  “I crush..!”, is not correct J In fact the only thing is the discharge of the stationary potential we have in our body.

The other familiar event for ESD is the thunder and the lightning. The charge exchange of the static electricity charged  clouds between each other or with the ground, or say discharge. Just much more severe of the one we experience on our body, depending on the amount of the charge displaces. The charge potential of static electricity in our bodies is in the order of 20-30 thousand volts. It is important to know that this amount is hundreds of million volts in lightning..!

Although the ESD we face everyday doesn’t have a considerable threat to human health, it is source of fault especially for sensitive electronic devices, and there must be some precautions. Some sufficient countermeasures must be taken to remain the immunity of the devices working in the orders of millivolts, against voltages in the range of kilovolts. The damaging effect of the ESD may simply be a distortion on a screen, but may also cause misfiring of an explosive battle assembly. Now it must be more clear to understand the importance of an ESD formed between your finger and the doorknob, if you are in a place where the flammable and explosive materials are waiting just for a small spark for ignition.


Are you a Manager or a Leader??

We all know that “Management” and “Leadership” are different concepts from each other but complement of each other at the same time. Management, often, is just a title given… So just a task given by the authority to direct a particular unit, a company even to govern the country… Leadership is not a title that can be given, unfortunately, it is a character. Many times managers are not selected by looking at his leadership qualification, but a manager that has leadership qualities not only manages but also directs and leads community at the same time. There are two points of view on this subject :

According to leadership definiton that has gone on for a long time, leader is the person who is followed.

On the other hand since the recent past, leader is considered as the one who properly organizes the community and runs towards the common goal together with the community he directs.

A leader manager, with no doubt, should be a “pattern” or “role model”…a role model who is listened to and followed what he does… Waiting a business discipline from employees whose manager doesn’t have that discipline can only be a funny joke 🙂 . A manager who usually attends late to meetings can not be the authority anymore for the meetings he arranges in his department. Similarly, the manager’s working hours can be flexible compared to employees, but disuse of this benfit and being sensitive to working hours and company’s general rules leads to gain respect. Team members of such a disciplined manager take him as a reference, respect and rarely break the rules of the company as shift hour fit etc.

Other important issue managers should pay attention is being at an equal distance to all employees or team members. If the leader manager is at the center of a circle rather than an ellipse, he can omit the weakest link of the chain while managing the probable conflicts in the team. The manager who has an image of “equal distance to everybody” and objective point of view, will gain the most difficult to achieve, but an essential character, inspiring confidence.

Perhaps the most important point, a lead manager who is seen as a role model on the team, creates new leaders with this character …



Quality Tests

When comparing especially the mass-produced products, at first we prefer the quality ones. However, on the base that quality is not a concrete term, according to what are we going to make our preference?? Of course, we are going to choose the products that has various checks carried out and the results have been reported. Thus, the answer to this question, products that are approved after a number of tests and the positive results reported, points out the quality…

At this point “Quality Testing” is activated…In fact, it is not correct to make a limitation with the name quality tests. Because it is possible to create numerous tests that can be applied to the product. We can say that the tests vary according to sector. However, a common title may be verification tests of products, if capable of fulfilling their duties as acceptable. These tests are generally called Function Tests.

Function Tests

A voltmeter to correctly measure the potential connected to its measurement terminals, the computer screen to display the image correctly, a product packaging to have the property to protect and keep the content rigit, the car’s central locking system to be able to lock and unlock  at each toggling smoothly etc…These are already the expected features to be borne. Function tests are generally the control of the functions specified in the using manual. Therefore, the rules are generally put by the manufacturers.

Aesthetic Test

Another expected verification to be met is receipt of the purchased product complete, robust and error free, so the quality of the products before being placed will need to pass controls of this style. More often named as “Physical Control or Aesthetic Test performed in the quality testing covers the appearance of the product, any abnormalities (scratches, cracks, abuse or misuse printing, etc..), all its parts is packaged (user manual, installation CD, hanger bracket etc..) and  confirmation of the packaging, done right or not. The consumer facing a different product from the expected one after opening the packaging, or experiencing a product label that’s torn or scratches on the display will have doubt about the manufacturer’s quality.


Type Tests

There is a third type of quality test performed which is more technical and challenging. “Type Tests” in general are for the product to fulfill its function, under the conditions given in standards, without errors, being defected or negative results. These tests can greatly vary according to industry, product and standards. If we go through the examples of the function tests given above; voltmeter to perform correct voltage measurements under the high magnetic field, computer screen to display the image when faced with a voltage pulse generated by a lightning falling nearby, product packaging to keep its contents under the vibration conditions simulating transportation, or the car’s central locking system to make locking or unlocking at each press, even in very cold conditions…Type Tests as we can see here, are verification of the performance of the product under different physical, climatic, electrical, mechanical etc. conditions. Tests can rarely be carried out in real environment with real conditions, but generally in laboratories where requirements are met by setting some simulations according to the standards.

The certificates gained and the reports taken after the tests performed are the quality documents of the products we have bought…

R & D Organization

It is clear that especially the research part of R & D is not very easy. Therefore, to make development with the information previously conducted research, is a priority of most companies. If being pioneer or leader is the targeted position, investment on R & D costs would be slightly higher. The R & D done for the purpose of “Being the first!” has a quite high risk. A research conducted for a long time and spending much money, can result without any particular return. This sometimes is also encountered in the development stage. Although the investment on R & D always contains a high risk, the earnings bar is also very high in case of success. In fact, we can briefly say that R & D is the “investment for the future”.

“Spend today to win tomorrow..!” 

The followed R & D policy of the company, should be in line with the company’s strategy. Carrying out the policy in accordance with strategies is directly indexed with the success of the R & D Management.

So, how should the structure of R & D be in the company?? In fact, as a part of the company’s, implicitly R & D is also managed by the Top Management . Overview, funding or expectations of Top Management for R & D, is the basis of structuring and management of it. First of all, a progressive, beliving to dynamism, open to development, above all, “ready to spend today to win tomorrow” top management is a must…It is very important how the organization is founded; generally vertical management structure like construction contracting companies, often prevents the works to be conducted by R & D with the desired speed, and the procedures, approval mechanisms would be an obstacle to getting effective results. However, the exact horizontal management organization in some respects impair the functioning of the system. Top Management to be in touch with the research or development staff at every second, sometimes transcend the purpose of this communication and can turn to direct intervention. In any type of management style, it is not familiar for the Top Management to know what does each researcher do or the timetable of the work the researcher conducts… Beyond knowing this, if the top management deals with and effects the workplan or division of tasks, we can say that hardly nothing is left to be expected from R & D personnel. Because the R & D staff who knows that his business is directly queried by the top management, now becomes away from the target of doing the job correctly, he dedicates himself to finish it as son as possible, starts the evaluation of the commercial aspect of the business, gives up technical requirements for profitability etc.

I had mentioned the difference of P – D with R & D and as well nowadays most of the commercial companies make Product Development under the name Research & Development, in my previous article entilted “R & D and the Companies”. Therefore it would be more correct to use the term Product Development which is more relevant to companies…

It is very important where the R & D is positioned within the organization of the company. To be located as possible independent place will help to ease the process, but also being in a flow where access to the management is not difficult will accelerate the process. Here the link with other groups in the organization and position, should be shaped according to the company’s strategy and policy. P & D department which is located directly under a management that is Sales and Marketing weighted or in the influence area of it will probably cause some negatives as spending much time investigating unnecessary customer requirements or to be distanced from detailed technical works or quality aspects to increase the commercial profit. An opposite domination in the organization will reversely create different problems to Sales Departments as being forced to sell products not shaped according to the demands of customers but whatever the R & D department has developed… If the company policy has a mission to be pioneer, leader, but without compromising on quality and setting it priority as a condition, then P – D should not have any authority on Quality department in the organization, moreover reverse the dominant hierarchy, the structure becomes P – D managed or driven by quality requirements.

R & D or  P & D organization, no matter where it is in the scheme of the company, the main factor that determines its location of the operation is the proper management. Company management carried out in accordance with correct R & D management and the policy…