Episode 4 of Amplify is live! Listen in below or read the transcript to hear Brad and Kiannah interview Michelle Mancuso about some behind the scenes of what goes into designing a BUILT assembly table.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:00:00] Today, we will be talking with Michelle Mancuso from Built Systems. How are you doing today, Michelle?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:00:05] Um, doing pretty good.
Brad Schaefer: [00:00:07] Is this your first podcast interview?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:00:09] Definitely.
Brad Schaefer: [00:00:10] Are you nervous?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:00:11] It’s a little different, yes.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:00:13] Yeah, well, to kick things off we are going to start today’s podcast with a question. So the question of the day today is, would you go to the future or back to the past if you had a time machine? And where would you go?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:00:27] Oh, man, um, I would probably go to the past. Yeah. Right.
Michelle Mancuso: [00:00:34] I like the idea that the future is a surprise. I don’t want to know the future.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:00:38] Yeah, I can see that. So where in the past would you go?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:00:42] Oh, man, um. I can’t give just one example. I think, you know, key moments in history are kind of cool. Just to go back and see some of the things like, uh, the Revolutionary War, you know, just see those Congress meetings where they developed our nation. Um. Go back and kind of see, you know, key moments where things change.
Brad Schaefer: [00:01:15] Stepping points in the country.
Michelle Mancuso: [00:01:19] Exactly. In our country. Go back in time and see my family. See where my parents grew up. You know, um, my grandpa passed away before I was born so that would be cool to go back in time and actually meet him. Yeah. So that was I mean, I think the past is very interesting and something to learn from. And I like the idea of a future that’s a surprise.
Brad Schaefer: [00:01:47] So now I’m at a toss-up because I was all about oh I want to go to the future. I like technology, like gadgets and gizmos and put a computer in my brain. I don’t care, but I like your go back in the past and see family and I don’t know, I’m now I’m tossed. I thought I had a direction where I wanted to go, but. I don’t know what about you Kiannah?
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:02:07] I don’t know I do love the past and I love reading about the past and learning about it and hearing about it, I love doing ancestry stuff and things like that. But I’m so intrigued by the future and what the future is going to look like because, I mean, just in the last one hundred years, like, look at how things have changed. So it’d be so intriguing to see what the next hundred years are going to look like. I mean, I think I would choose the future honestly.
Brad Schaefer: [00:02:34] I was just recently at home, watched back to the future, and to go through that and see, you know, 2020 or whatever they went to in the future. Twenty, fifteen, I don’t remember anymore, but see what they thought the future looked like, what it is now. Oh my gosh. I’d love to see flying cars and auto hoverboards and stuff like that, but it’s just, it’s very different in self-drying clothing. And although those shoes exist, those back to the future shoes are around there just like twelve thousand dollars a pair.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:03:08] Oh yeah. No big deal.
Brad Schaefer: [00:03:13] So today’s episode, we wanted to take a look at one of the key components that BUILT makes and that’s our ATE series workstations. Michelle is one of the engineers at BUILT, we thought you could help us get a little bit of a breakdown of these workstations. We hope to get our listeners to understand the modularity and the versatility of these workstations and how you can customize them individually.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:03:36] So before we dig in, let’s get a little history about you. When did you start at BUILT Michelle?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:03:41] Um, I started April of 2016.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:03:45] OK, and what’s your current title and position?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:03:47] Product engineer.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:03:49] Awesome. So what do you like to do in your free time when you’re not at work?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:03:53] Um, my free time mostly consists of taking care of my two daughters. One is two and a half years old and the other is four months old. So they keep me very busy until they go to bed.
Michelle Mancuso: [00:04:07] And then it’s, um, you know, just general housework and prepping for the next day, um, when they’re with grandma. Grandpa, uh, I like to hunt or fish. Um, we’ve got a little bit of land that we’ll drive around on and play on. So, uh, hanging out with family pretty much. And we just purchased the camper. So that’s exciting. Next summer we will definitely be camping. That’ll be interesting with a one and a three year old.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:04:38] So, yeah, that’s awesome. Fun. Sweet. Thanks for that, Michelle.
Brad Schaefer: [00:04:47] Being at BUILT Systems for the four and a half years you’ve been here, I know you’re focused a lot on assembly tables and the workstations. Can you touch a little bit on what your thought process is when you start designing something ergonomic station like this from the beginning?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:05:01] Um, so. The way it starts, typically a project starts and I’ll try to gather all the info, I’ll look at the quote, I’ll look at emails from the customer, I’ll look at the customers. I just try and put everything together in my head before I actually start on the computer. Um, and then. First thing I think is what have we made that is similar? I’ll try to find something in the computer to minimize the amount of work which increases the response time. So if there’s something similar we’ve done, I can copy that and then have that as my starting point. Um. A lot of what we do is similar, but different, especially with assembly tables, there tends to be a lot of custom stuff, and starting with stuff that’s already been made, usually makes that a lot quicker process.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:05:56] Yeah, and you usually start with kind of a standard model, correct? So what components typically go into a standard workstation?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:06:04] Standard workstation? Um, consist of the feet. Do you want mighty mounts or casters, um, are welded, feet are standard and then it’s two or four legs. The ergonomic, height-adjustable legs. And then there’s depth and width brackets, controls and top. You know, what kind of top does the customer want, butcher block, HPL, et cetera. And then is there a light frame? And if there is, there’s lots and lots of options for a light frame.
Brad Schaefer: [00:06:41] So how long does a design like this usually take?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:06:45] That depends on how custom it is, um, if it’s a standard, we’ve done it before, we’re just changing with them whatever it can be done in 15 minutes if it’s fully custom. I’ve had some take weeks. To give the customer exactly what they want.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:07:04] All right, so looking at the ergonomics side of these tables, why do you design tables like this? Why not just a standard fixed table?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:07:13] Um, I can actually answer that from experience. I have an ergonomic table here at work, and it is amazing. The ability to stand up after you’ve been sitting for a couple of hours is great. I don’t have to, you know, sit at work when my back hurts. I’m not going to go walk around and stop working. I can just press the button, raise my desk, and continue working.
Brad Schaefer: [00:07:41] You kind of touched on that in our first episode as well, why, I mean, Kiannah and I both have ergonomic workstations here and then when we worked at home during this pandemic, how not having that is crucial, you realize when you don’t have it how much you miss it.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:07:58] Oh, yeah, definitely it was not fun not having that.
Michelle Mancuso: [00:08:02] When you turn the light, you have to step away. You have to oh away, you have to walk around a little bit, stand up, and then you stop working to do that if you don’t have one of these tables. So it’s kind of a waste of time.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:08:15] Right. So this design kind of eliminates that.
Brad Schaefer: [00:08:19] Increases your efficiencies and your output. So you talked about all kinds of crazy accessories and custom accessories. What’s the weirdest or the craziest thing you’ve ever put on an assembly table?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:08:32] Um, I would say the weirdest one I’ve done. Would be, or at least the most different design would be a guide for a bubble wrap machine. Um, it was a packaging table and it was those like air pillows. And I had to create a bracket that kind of guided the long line of air pillows. And then there was a custom bracket on a tool trolley that turned the tool trolley into a custom attachment, basically, where the customer could cut the piece from the machine on it, and then it allowed them to move the bubble wrap where they needed.
Michelle Mancuso: [00:09:20] And it ended up turning out really well and working really well for that product.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:09:27] Yeah, so going off the craziest design, what is your favorite assembly table that you’ve ever designed here?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:09:34] Probably it was more of a standard table, it was actually a six-leg because it was so long, it was like a ninety-six inch ATE400 hundred with a standard light frame. And then it just looked great. Um, I love the look of the butcher block, and it was this nice powder coated blue color.
Michelle Mancuso: [00:09:56] I mean, we have lots of different color options and kind of seeing the different colors come through the plant is pretty cool because some of them look really, really nice.
Brad Schaefer: [00:10:09] There are hundreds of features and things that set BUILT apart from others. Can you name a couple of them that are kind of key differences?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:10:19] Um, so. Our columns are patented state of the art, you know, very robust and the thing about built is it’s heavy-duty, it’s very robust. You’re not going to find anything like it. And then also the custom stuff. We have a team of engineers that that’s what we do all day, is we’ll customize the table to fit your needs and you won’t find that in most places.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:10:54] So what assembly table would you customize for yourself, if you could put any assembly table in your garage, what would it look like?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:11:03] Oh, they would definitely have a butcher blocked top. I would probably have a shelf underneath just to store different tools and stuff. Definitely get the pegboard where I can hang tool there, a whiteboard if I want to make any notes, um, LED. Oh, let’s see here, I would put some sort of bins because I’m, uh, I’m a pretty organized person, so I like having bins that I can know where to find stuff. Um. Yeah, just a nice butcher block top, I can put tools on and we’ve got a little drummul I can do stuff with.
Michelle Mancuso: [00:11:47] I got a wood-burning kit. I’d Like to get back into that. But, um, you know, being a mother to little one’s kind of takes away a lot of time.
Brad Schaefer: [00:11:58] What color would you paint it?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:12:00] Blue is my favorite color.
Brad Schaefer: [00:12:01] Light blue. Dark blue. Navy?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:12:05] I’d say like a bright blue. Sky blue almost.
Brad Schaefer: [00:12:10] I could see that. I like the black wrinkle. That’s my favorite, but I understand.
Michelle Mancuso: [00:12:16] Oh no. I would go for the pop of blue.
Brad Schaefer: [00:12:22] So what really inspires or drives the design and the want to do what you’re doing?
Michelle Mancuso: [00:12:30] Um, so. I’ve always loved to put things together to see how things work, it’s kind of led me into engineering, um, you know, kid Legos, Conex, that was what I did. That is what I love. I just like seeing how things work, put things together. I enjoy working in SolidWorks, I enjoy manipulating things, knowing the process of how it’s made out on our floor, um, how the laser’s function. Being able to see something from my design straight out to our manufacturing floor right outside the door, watching it from beginning to end is great. You know, it’s definitely a benefit to see something made. That you designed.
Brad Schaefer: [00:13:26] Totally on board with that. It’s satisfying almost to watch something come from was in your head to physically see it and being operational as an engineer myself, I totally get how that drives and inspires you. It’s cool.
Michelle Mancuso: [00:13:40] Definitely. You, uh, you go from your head to the computer out on the floor.
Michelle Mancuso: [00:13:46] Um, a lot of what we do is making sure what we put on the computer they can actually physically manufacture around the floor. And you got to think about can the equipment do this? Um. Can they assemble it in this order? You know, there’s a lot of stuff you got to learn and we’re to a point now. Our engineering team is not brand new that we’re familiar with everything and it’s just made us that much better.
Brad Schaefer: [00:14:16] Wonderful. Thanks for all that information, Michelle.
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