Piet has more than 25 years of experience in Product Design and Mechanical Engineering. 10 years after he graduated with a Master in Physical Education, Piet discovered a new passion as a Master of Science in Industrial Design. After a long career as a Product Engineer at Philips Television, he joined Verhaert Consulting. He worked first on internal projects and currently, he works as a Senior Consultant via Verhaert Consulting at Daikin in Ostend.
Could you tell us about your job as a Product Engineer at Daikin?
“In the past, the development at Daikin was structured as a department that receives for each new heat pump a separate request to design it within 1 year. The so-called yearly development. The request was mainly defined by sales. This way of working resulted in only market-driven requirements and limited links or commonalities between different models. For a few years, we try to establish an advanced development phase in which we can work on an efficient platform design before it gets into the yearly phase that’s mainly driven by go-to-market timing. This should result in a significant positive impact on cost- and assembly efficiency. Both are the main challenges to enable Daikin to follow the exploding heat pump market due to the green transformation.”
Looking back at 25 years in Product Design and Mechanical Engineering: have you noticed shifts in product design?
“The biggest shift is the development time. This is at least halved due to digitalization and market pressure to innovate and follow new trends and competitors instantly. Globalization pushed this even more as the market expanded together with a multiplication of competitors. A lot of well-established European companies suffered from this (for them too) fast transformation. In parallel, I also experienced a shift from specialists to generalists. At the start of my career, I encountered a lot of engineers that had worked for 40 years in 1 factory, for 1 type of product and mostly only on 1 aspect/feature of that product. Now product engineers are multifunctional and open to designing/innovating different products/services in multiple settings.”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
“I’ve always strived to be a multifunctional generalist with expertise in mechanical design. That’s why I’m having fun searching for concepts and solutions in areas where spatial awareness and mechanical system thinking are required. At Daikin, I’m happy to have the opportunity to investigate solutions based on common sense and experience, but as in all big companies, this must also be calculated, proven, documented, cost-estimated, defended, and politically interpreted. As a counterbalance for this, sometimes less enjoyable, aspect I started ‘a Tuts of Wood’, where gut feeling, trust, open mindedness, and cooperation are key. The joy of some imperfection can be liberating.