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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ratbldr427 View Post
    Damn savman, You just gotta learn to say no.The reason he wanted to move the job to his shop is because he got tired of driving,spending his gas money driving to yours most likely.
    Idea men usually can't do shit that's why they hire people who can.They have no clue nor do they care how much time and aggravation or money you have to invest in their "IDEA".

    Cut your losses and run,he will bleed you dry and then move on to some one else.
    I'm 72 years old and I still occasionally don't know when to say NO.All out of trying to be a nice guy.
    Trying to be nice and not saying no when I needed to has caused me more aggravation in life than being belligerent ever has!
    I think the reason the machine got moved is the customer could tell the OP is going
    to reneg on the contract.

    Did the customer squeeze the OP too far ? Yes, definitely, but now the OP
    (who left the line go out way too far) can't set the hook, and will drop the job,
    ruining his reputation, credit, etc.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpotter View Post
    I was told a long time ago by the shop foreman, build to the print thats all you have to do. Do not design anything for anyone make them design it. If you design it you own it and all the issues. I make new machines everyday but I do it for my own business and it takes me months to get everything perfect and ready for production. I cant imagine someone paying me to do that.
    I have made a few custom machines, just simple stuff like something to stamp part numbers on military parts, most of my inventions are adding a custom attachment to an existing machine. Years ago had a friend who worked at a place that built custom machines that cost $250,000 to $1 mil. They never saved anything from one project to the next, the machines were about double the size of your average home refrigerator. They gave him first shot at anything left over before they threw it in the dumpster. We are talking air cylinders, solenoids, tubing, fittings, wire, bar stock, boxes of fasteners,etc,etc. He would come by with a pick up bed worth of stuff every few months and let me have anything there was an over supply of or something he figured he never had a use for.

    I kept most of it and have used plenty over the years, considering when I decide to make myself a widget I have a major advantage as most of the materials that one would have to order from McMaster-Carr I have in stock, major cost and time savings. I consider myself a pretty good shade tree engineer, electrician and plumber, and when I admire my well functioning item after many revisions I think to myself, "What would someone pay for that?" The answer to that question usually leaves me with the same pay per hour someone gets working at McDonald's.

    As to the OP's question you have to just learn from your mistakes and from experience, all of us shop owners here have taken it in the shorts from under quoting a job. Stand behind your bid and do better next time. I have always stood by what I quoted, I think I did a 60 hour job for $5 an hour once, that is the worst one I remember. On the other hand if I quote a simple job at $50 an hour and whip it out so fast I make $200 an hour I don't give refunds, it all comes out in the wash. Also remember bad word travels 10x faster than good word. You have to look at the situation, if the shortfalls are on you, you must own them and make the situation right.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    I think the reason the machine got moved is the customer could tell the OP is going
    to reneg on the contract.

    Did the customer squeeze the OP too far ? Yes, definitely, but now the OP
    (who left the line go out way too far) can't set the hook, and will drop the job,
    ruining his reputation, credit, etc.
    I disagree with your first sentence.

    But the bolded above is the reason the job went awry and is my responsibility.

    In order of importance things I made a mistake on:

    1.) Pricing the job too way too low
    2.) The job was priced on a price per week basis so the above led to me giving the customer unrealistic expectations
    3.) a.) I didn't charge for changes to the scope of work
    b.) I didn't charge for consultation on unrelated projects
    4.) I should have stood my ground to the point of voiding the contract when the customer decided he wanted the project moved far away before completion

    1 and 2 are two sides of the same coin, so basically we are talking about three major errors. I could have lived with making two out of the three; but all three were just breaking my back.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by savman View Post
    I disagree with your first sentence.

    But the bolded above is the reason the job went awry and is my responsibility.

    In order of importance things I made a mistake on:

    1.) Pricing the job too way too low
    2.) The job was priced on a price per week basis so the above led to me giving the customer unrealistic expectations
    3.) a.) I didn't charge for changes to the scope of work
    b.) I didn't charge for consultation on unrelated projects
    4.) I should have stood my ground to the point of voiding the contract when the customer decided he wanted the project moved far away before completion

    1 and 2 are two sides of the same coin, so basically we are talking about three major errors. I could have lived with making two out of the three; but all three were just breaking my back.
    Couple of points:
    1. I can only go on what you write, I can't see thru the internet, and read your thoughts.

    2. I write "my opinion" on your posting. There is no "right answer" and I'm not taking a test here.

    3. Your not learning anything by throwing up roadblocks
    with "Ya butts".

    Done here helping the ungrateful O.P.

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    As my sons and I always say.

    "Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement",

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    Wow.
    Sorry to hear your project turned into a Poop Sandwich.
    Just curious, have you been paid at all for any of the labor or materials at this point?
    Your 'customer' sounds sleazy, (at least from what you wrote) and seems to have played you for more than he's agreed to pay for despite your overabundance of 'nice guy' bad decisions. No way to tell other than the info you've given, but if indeed the guy is being truly unfair beyond you not 'making time', etc. I think I'd go there to his place, hopefully when he's not near the machine, and remove any and all items that could be re-sold on EBAY, and leave. Wait for the phone call. Renegotiate. Maybe he'd just sue you instead. Is this your first rodeo with this 'customer'? Even a little street smarts are a wonderful thing. Being able to read people even on a rudimentary basis.....priceless. Of course, none of us that has that talent hasn't gotten it without eating a few Poop Sandwiches.
    I like mine with beer.
    Dark, strong beer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkmc View Post
    Wow.
    Sorry to hear your project turned into a Poop Sandwich.
    Just curious, have you been paid at all for any of the labor or materials at this point?
    Your 'customer' sounds sleazy, (at least from what you wrote) and seems to have played you for more than he's agreed to pay for despite your overabundance of 'nice guy' bad decisions. No way to tell other than the info you've given, but if indeed the guy is being truly unfair beyond you not 'making time', etc. I think I'd go there to his place, hopefully when he's not near the machine, and remove any and all items that could be re-sold on EBAY, and leave. Wait for the phone call. Renegotiate. Maybe he'd just sue you instead. Is this your first rodeo with this 'customer'? Even a little street smarts are a wonderful thing. Being able to read people even on a rudimentary basis.....priceless. Of course, none of us that has that talent hasn't gotten it without eating a few Poop Sandwiches.
    I like mine with beer.
    Dark, strong beer.
    re: labor; I was paid some. Worked out to less than minimum wage after expenses.

    There is an outstanding draw for materials. I suspect I'll never see that money, but would love to be wrong about that.

  9. #28
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    When it's your first time, you're likely to be something like 10x slower than the market rate, and scrap/not use probably as many components as end up in the final machine. That's on you, not your customer. My first 18 months in business I averaged 66... cents... per hour.

    I think you're throwing the towel in far too early, and blaming the customer for what is almost certainly on your lack of experience. I'd say suck it up and finish, or go find someone to work for.

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  11. #29
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    Lots of good comments here and a few ignorant ones as well.

    We have never not finished a job. One particularly bad one recently was spending $1.0+ million on a $350k easy machine that just had to put plastic caps in the ends of rolls of commercial towel.

    Well, the rolls could be any diameter, and the cores came in a few diameters and therefore caps did as well . . . and the machine should adjust itself automatically based on SKU being processed and be able to reject wrong size rolls or caps, (did I mention the caps came in different colors? And genders?) . . .

    And what about production rates, how about 1 roll a second maximum? That is descrambling, feeding, and precisely positioning 60 rolls and inserting 120 caps a minute on rolls that could vary in diameter . . . AND WIDTH!

    And, needed 100% inspection on the inserted caps and then two different reject paths, one for non-conforming product due to wrong diameter, or bias cut sides, or wrong width, or crushed core, another for missed cap to allow for rework. All within a fully guarded cell with TUV certified safety system deployed. And production reporting system, cognex acquired images posted live on the HMI with reject images stored for later viewing . . . stuff like that.

    That machine shipped a couple months late and was one of our more challenging development experiences, hard bid, fixed price, a sizable dent in our profits that year.

    Now, 3 years and 6 cappers later, we are above water on the entire batch of machines including the first with a slightly higher price and NRE behind us. We happily take orders for that machine now.

    This is pretty typical although we don't usually miss as bad as we did on this one. One rule we try to abide by is that we need to be profitable in some way with every series of machines we do by the time we get through 2 or 3 copies of that machine or something fairly close to it. We have to have a sense for the market before doing this. Sometimes we do a machine because it looks like fun and we will gain notoriety or skills that will pay dividends down the road. It can't always be about making money on every machine or I would go insane.

    Some machines are never profitable, but we learn something valuable or open the door to new business that is profitable. In the grand mix of things, the variety and challenge is what makes this fun. If you are doing this solo, my hat is off to you, we have a team of 26 engineers to bounce ideas off of and kick things around and the collaboration and sometimes competition has made for some amazing innovations.

    I just bid a series of machines . . . first hoped for order is $6+ million and we were just invited by the customer to fly to their facility to discuss. Huge mechanical, electrical and exceedingly complex software elements but I am confident we can do it. We have fixed a similar series of machines before where others had failed. We learned from their mistakes . . . another thing you should take every opportunity to do.

    Do your damndest to finish your project. When finished, be honest with your customer and seek a compromise on price if possible. If he doesn't seek your benefit in the end, you are under no obligation to sell him another and it is his ultimate loss for not seeking to help you thrive in doing work that helps him thrive.

    We are doing a lot of work in Savannah (where our first capper landed . . . about a 13 hour set of flights, and drive plus hotel and rental car, etc. etc.) . . . plenty of good folks to build machines for and something else you will learn is who not to build machines for.

    You need a strong stomach and a solid cash reserve to make it in this business. Don't give up . . . only you can tarnish your reputation.
    Last edited by motion guru; 08-09-2017 at 07:03 AM. Reason: Spelling

  12. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Comatose View Post
    When it's your first time, you're likely to be something like 10x slower than the market rate, and scrap/not use probably as many components as end up in the final machine. That's on you, not your customer. My first 18 months in business I averaged 66... cents... per hour.

    I think you're throwing the towel in far too early, and blaming the customer for what is almost certainly on your lack of experience. I'd say suck it up and finish, or go find someone to work for.
    66 cents an hour? Was that after all the bills were paid, not bad. I was about $10 an hour in the hole for my first year, luckily I only worked 50 hours a week for myself as I still had my day job.

  13. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by savman View Post
    ewlsey,

    Let me put it another way: If someone asked you to build a machine that would sell for 100k dollars in quantities of <25/year. What do you think a ball park prototype cost would be? I know it's a super vague question.

    As far as sucking it up; I've worked 11 weeks unpaid to try and correct my mistake. 4 weeks ago he made a decision that costs me an additional 13/hrs per week and several hundred more dollars weekly. I can't do it anymore.

    I am a responsible for under estimating my time, but there have been changes to the project, not the least of which is the one I mentioned above that costs me dearly each week. My original estimate was 8 weeks and that's how we arrived at a price based on X/hr. I've worked 11 weeks uncompensated to fix my error and things keep changing/getting added. I can't do any more.
    NEVER let them change on the fly without pushing the delivery date and adding money.
    NEVER.
    If need be call a stop work until their design is final.

  14. #32
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    I dealt with of these issues multiple times in my line of work Im a well driller. just like motion guru says finish if possible because it will haunt you for the rest of your business life. first one for me right after I started my business in 04 I bid a job without doing the research realized I could not do the job with the equipment I had. I walked on that one know how many jobs I remember from that year or the first 5 years of my business? that one. there have been 3 since then that I could have walked on but I can say I finished them took longer than it should have and 2 of them caused a roman noodle and mac and cheese year litterly got tax money back without paying in years. if you can without bankrupting yourself finish and learn, some of us are denser. and it takes pain to pound what we are trying to learn in

  15. #33
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    I spouse im odd i only take on these projects for certain customers and under rock solid terms. Do to never ending supplier issues on stuff like this too you have to have some serious time flexibility.

    I get to machine the cutter head this weekend. Monday i then finally am at the point were i find out if my approach was smart enough to fix the faults in the commercially available versions of what i do, that for my customer made them come to me.

    At the start i very much had a target budget am more or less nicely on target, billable times actually come in under but supplier issues have put me over a month behind target. That said customer wanted low cost and that meant minimal good suppliers. hence good and cheap very much at the expense of time.

    Theres already at least half a dozen changes on the board, all bar a few of those are going to be done as a fully chargeable upgrades, again one off machinery you have to make it clear certain issues will only come to light during the build yet offer some great long term savings if carried out. Kinda like software, you can beta test all you want but till its life you never know all the bugs. Jumping to version 1.1 or 1.2 should always be a option and with a separate price tag. Often times a lot of customers will happily pay 20% more once its up and running and they can see the benefits the changes would bring them. But they won't pay more at the outset. This stuff does get easier with time too.


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