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The term 'Over engineered'
5

The term 'Over engineered'

The term 'Over engineered'

(OP)
This is a minor issue that I come against every now and then.

Where I started engineering the terms over engineered and over designed meant opposite things i.e. overdesigned meant it was large than required and over engineered meant that you spent a whole week designing one beam to the nth degree.

Where I am in the UK they tend to use the two interchangeably to mean that it is larger than necessary.

What do people out there take as the meaning of these 2 terms?

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

over-engineered can also mean more complicated than it needs to be.
 

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

(OP)
ivymike,

yes thats more like what I was trying to get at, like having 10 beams when 2 larger ones will do e.t.c.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

I've heard the two phrases being used synonymously, but I take the two to mean different things.  Over-engineered meaning it's surpassed requirements, and over-designed meaning a product is too feature rich.

"Art without engineering is dreaming; Engineering without art is calculating."

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RE: The term 'Over engineered'

What ivymike said. Over engineering is different than say over sizing or being conservative. To me it means that you have designed "features" that are unnecessary and may not be consistent with industry standards. I cannot come up with a structural analogy, but in layman's term when someone proposes a Cadillac when a Buick would do, would be an example.

An electrical example would be specifying an air power circuit breaker with sophisticated relays where a simple switch-fuse or a molded case breaker is the norm.

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

From my corner of the UK, I'm used to the distinction MadMango drew.
A.  

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Over Engineered, as in too much steel...

Over Designed, as in too much time spent on the analysis...

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering
Motto:  KISS
Motivation:  Don't ask

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Over engineered.  There are two versions:

1) Form >> Function

2) Safety factor >> 1.0

- Steve

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

If you use the two in the same context then I can see the distinction.

However, in general conversation, I've heard/seen Over Engineered to mean both 'excessively complicated' and 'significantly exceeded requirements' (e.g. well over strength).

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Example: Tylors produced water meters for nearly 200 years.
In 1963 they designed a new domestic water meter.
The Metropolitan Water Company said it was a "Rolls Royce" of water meters.
They bought the Kent "Bomb" instead.
 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

I don't think either 'over engineered' or 'over designed' exist, but if they did, to me they would mean the same thing.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

I suspect that when such products emerge into the daylight, there will often be found a disconnect between the engineering group and sales and marketing.
  

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

(OP)
Interesting feedback covering all ends of the scale.

msquared48,

Your interpretation is the exact opposite of mine.

I will be very careful if this term comes up in future.

Probabaly best to use terms such as 'overly conservative' and over complicated design rather than these terms.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

"Over-engineered" is obviously a rather loose term and thus, perhaps, bets viewed in the context of where it is used.
 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

my sense is that it implies the engineers spent too much time perfecting it, "guilding the lily"

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

I suppose some engineers will see "over engineered" to be analogous to "a girl too pretty," or "too much money."
 

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Hmm,
"a girl too pretty" and take care of "too much money" problem.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

I think this whole thread has become over engineered.  winky smile

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

In my little corner of the States (Oklahoma) I use the term over designed to mean too high of a saftey factor.  When I think of over engineered I think of too many features.  Meaning reversed from what Mad Mango felt.  When I think of over engineered I think of medical equipment.  When I took my wife to the Hospital because she banged her ankle I was looking at the bed/gurnsey she was sitting on.  It had 3 foot switches on each side to switch which wheels could caster freely and or lock in place.  It had side rails that could go up and down with a release switch on either the front of the back side.  It could raise the head or feet like an adjustable bed.  It had slots for IV drips. I'm sure in it's context all these things are useful and important, but it struck me as a bed that needed a two day training class to figure out how to use it.  

-Kirby

Kirby Wilkerson

Remember, first define the problem, then solve it.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Kirby, that is a difficult one to judge but I tend to think it is not over-engineered.
I'd better explain why.
How well a product is designed depends on what the client wants and will pay for.
Sales and marketing should produce a specification for engineering to work to.
The objective is to make sales.
If the specification is wrong. no matter what engineering do which in fact is to do what they're asked to do, the product won't sell as it should. That is if it has too many features the client won't pay for or too few features the client would pay for.
It would appear that when it comes to hospital beds they are overly complicated but I'd suggest that this is not because they have been over-engineered by the manufacturer but over specified by the client... not Sales and Marketing, because it wouldn't sell, but by the client.
Then we have established a standard.
It will now cost more, in all probability, to make a bed with fewer bells and whistles as a sub-specification, than with all the features.
The probability is that bed manufacturers are quite happy giving the customer what the customer wants.
The product is obviously a success by sales and marketing and by engineering since that is the type of bed that sells all over the world as a "hospital bed".

The usual statement by sales to clients is that they can have anything they like it will just cost more.
More cost, more turnover and more margin. So the manufacturers are hardly going to argue the super-abundance of features.

Now if anyone where to ask what was needed in a hospital bed, or if there ought to be different categories of hospital bed, then that would be another matter. In all probability the costs would dramatically reduce.
Frankly I'd rather some doctor did a study of hospital beds and stop issuing meaningless flawed reports on whether coffee is good for us or not or whether the Single MRI jab is killing kids or not.

In the end all things are judged, in the commercial world by how well they sell. All value judgements must relate to meeting customer needs and budgets.  

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

I object to the use of 'engineer' as a verb, or 'engineered' as an adjective.  'Engineer' is a noun, and engineers design things.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Over Designed - MS Word. Hundreds of features, but I only need a simple word processor.

Over Engineered - The 400Lb desk I have to hold the 7Lb Monitor.

Over Analysed - this thread.

Rerig

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

The general concensus of 'over engineered' at my place seems to be "It has been designed with features (physical features like lighting holes or tabs) that are not really required and could have been made far simpler"

Hayes mountain bike disk brake calipers - functional cast parts.

Hope calipers - 5-axis CNC machined, perform the same function.

The latter in my opinion is over engineering (assuming in both cases a large volume of production of course)

Will Walters
Sheffield UK
Designer of machine tools - user of modified screws

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

hokie66...took the words out of my mouth...ain't no such thing.  One engineer's judgment is another's overengineering or overdesign.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

As a machine operator, and quality technician who worked my way into engineering, the term "over-engineered" (to the folks on the shop floor) meant that the part was to tightly toleranced for the application in mind.  So even though i am now in engineering, i always think of this definition when i hear or read that term.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

csd72,

For structural purposes, your interpretation is the only one I've ever heard, other than the occasional 'Hell for Stout', meaning designed beyond structural requirements.

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Lets take the simple mouse trap as an example;

Over designed would be to incorporate a reduction gear unit into the trap to ease the force needed to load the spring mechanisim.

Over engineered would be to have it made in duplex alloy materials to eliminate corrosion.

Neither of which would improve the function of a basic mouse trap.

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. (Sherlock Holmes - A Scandal in Bohemia.)  

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

In the world of erection procedure I've 'over designed' a component to compensate for construction or picking loads which frequently exceed service loads and can be a little unpredictable.  The larger capacity members do not get replaced by smaller sections so technically they are forever over designed.  I think of over-designing as having a purpose, like making exposed tube columns larger in size because it looks better and over-engineering as extra effort without any apparent benefit.

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Cass
An over designed erection, now that would be something to see.

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. (Sherlock Holmes - A Scandal in Bohemia.)  

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

It beats an under-designed one.

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

But if it was over engineered, would that compensate?
  

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. (Sherlock Holmes - A Scandal in Bohemia.)  

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

They could be over-embellished, but under-appreciated!

More or less.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Usually under-appreciated.

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. (Sherlock Holmes - A Scandal in Bohemia.)  

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

(OP)
Guys,

Speak for yourselves - maybe its the operator that needs to be trained to properly utilise it!

Cass,

Very succinctly put and exactly the interpretation that I am used to.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

If the comment comes from an excavation contractor, I put it down to the RMK factor.  (RMK = Rocky Mountain King, the top Polaris snowmobile, which the cost of my design is keeping Mr. Backhoe from acquiring this year.) ( Oh,, and I have need heard them bitch that the RMK was over-engineered)

SRShaw
Permafrost Man

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Over-engineered means the boss is angry because he doesn't understand the math.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Over engineered, I tend to say this A LOT. I program parts for a tube laser, my main customer has a tendency of 'over engineering' their parts.

When I say it I mean that they made an over complicated part. A part that should be of faily simple design, they engineer it out as if they are building shuttles for NASA.

To me the term just means making something more complicated than it needs to be, too many engineers sitting in a room with too many opinions.

Just my 2 cents

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

If something is unnecessarily complicated, I would say it is under-engineered.  Our work is to simplify, not complicate.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Nice one Hokie, but does that mean over-engineered is when it is far less complicated than necessary i.e. inadequate for the purpose? Kind of counter intuitive...

Over-engineered would seem to be the selection of multi-part brackets holding my glove box and plastic fascia panels together in my Audi.... I was extracting the blower motor to replace the brushes... one bracket (unnecessarily removed, as it happens) appears to have no function at all since neither part it joined together could be caused to move by even a fraction of a millimetre with or without the bracket..... but it's a German car... I have to assume these parts are all exactly engineered to do meet some purpose of which I have no knowledge....hammer

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

No, I gave my opinion about "over-engineered"...there is no such thing, so it can't be synonymous with "inadequate".

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

(OP)
I heard it again her used in the same context - i.e. mader stronger than it needs to be. So that must be the common usage here in the uk.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

To me, if it is over engineered then some "cost out" engineer can take the over engineering out and cost reduce it some day without imparing the form, fit or functionality.

Something that is over designed on the other hand may be untouchable by the cost out police even though it is built HFS.  (HFS, see Cass's post).

rmw

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

"my sense is that it implies the engineers spent too much time perfecting it, "guilding the lily" "

 The term commonly used around here for that is "polishing a turd"

One good example of not over engineering was

"Simplicate and Add Lightness"

— design philosophy of Ed Heinemann, Douglas Aircraft


 
 
 

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

KENAT
I seen groups of engineers who did (and do ) just that. They going till the budget is used up.  Things would have been just as good if they had stopped on the 3rd day.
 

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

But KENAT is right.  The saying is "You can't polish a turd", which means you can't fix something that is hopeless.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

"You can't polish a turd, but you CAN roll it in glitter"

old field guy

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

(OP)
The EE's can cover it in neon lights
The SE's can encase it in polished concrete
And the ME's can...well they can launch it...at a fan.. and thats where the trouble reallly starts.

What BJC mentioned is what i have traditionally called over engineered. Engineering is the process of refining a system so if you over do it then you have spent too much time refining it ..or so goes the logic.

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

A long time ago, I participated in the final tuning of a flight simulator.
The structure was basically 3 radial 4 inch pipes that had been bent into an S shape, split, and re-welded around shaped plate.  It was beautifully proportioned, and hell for strong on the strong axis.  Not so much on the weak axis; it had a structural resonance around 7 Hz, which caused an uncommanded over-response in yaw to what was supposed to be a subtle flutter response.  We put a fancy custom notch filter in the servo electronics to suppress the resonant frequency and substitute something that was close, but wouldn't excite the structure.

My marching orders for the next simulator included a specific requirement for no structural resonance under 100Hz in any mode in any direction.  If you work the numbers, that gives you a spring rate around a million pounds per inch.  The resulting triangular truss, constructed of 5 inch square tube, looked like we had cut off part of a very sturdy bridge.  ... but it had no resonances that the 150HP hydraulic power supply could excite.

The Chairman asked me over drinks if it may have been just a little overdesigned.  I said that it was actually only about 5 pct overdesigned, but if he allowed customers to believe that it was grossly overdesigned, that was okay with me.  I added that if it had been 5 pct underdesigned, everyone would know, and we would be repeating the previous misadventure with the beautiful but insufficient structure.

At the time, there was no such thing as a programmable calculator, and nobody could remember how to run the chunka-chunka-bang Friden mechanical calculator that we had, so I had spent weeks calculating axial deflections and displacements by hand, but I wouldn't characterize the result as over-engineered.



 

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: The term 'Over engineered'


Over Engineered is used by the engineers..
Over designed is used the laymen..

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

I would have thought more like the opposite. If you are a layman, blame the engineers and engineering for the excessive design. If you are an engineer, engineering is fine but non-technical outsiders or obsessive engineers shouldn't add more requirements/features than necessary.  

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Too funny to think of it this way. In my workplace, we normally do not use the term "over-designed," but "over-engineered" has come up when budgets come into play.

Also, when doing some work at home, my significant other complains that some of my projects are a little over-engineered. I just like making things more powerful!

Designer and compression springs enthusiast
http://www.coilingtech.com/compression-springs.html

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Over-engineered=wrong (or=over designed)
over-designed=spending 3 weeks to calculate how strong your coat hanger must be.
over-dimensioned= buying a 10T hook to use as a coat hanger
 

NX 7.5
Teamcenter 8

RE: The term 'Over engineered'

Over-engineered=over-designed
over-designed=spending 3 weeks to calculate how strong your coat hanger must be.
over-dimensioned= buying a 10T hook to use as a coat hanger

one could argue that over-engineered is more technical and over-designed is more about aesthetics.

NX 7.5
Teamcenter 8

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