Supply House Times

Fluid Designs: Full-Service Design & Engineering

November 4, 2009


As someone who has been around the plumbing industry for a lot of years - wearing a lot of hats - I find that "what I really do" is not always understood (just ask my wife). And frankly, the wide spectrum of roles I have handled does make it difficult for even me to define using typical job descriptions. Some folks know me for my past roles as marketing director of major industry manufacturers - or currently as an OEM sales rep - or all along as the guy who writes stuff and conducts seminars on plumbing products. 

What may not be as widely understood by many of you is the fact that the root beginnings of all that came through my work as a product development consultant - a function that continues to this day under the flag of Fluid Designs. Based in Scottsdale, AZ, this is an outgrowth of former consulting entities I ran called Cranda and later, D.C. Arnold Co.

Today, Fluid Designs is an alliance of several highly experienced consultants in the field of plumbing product design and engineering. We are using this special edition of this blog to make you aware of who we are, and what services we offer plumbing manufacturers. We'll cover this by function:

Industrial Design - Tom Robbins Design

I consider 30-year veteran Tom Robbins one of the premier innovators of faucet design today. Although he has designed a wide spectrum of consumer products, including furniture and lighting, most of those years have been spent designing residential plumbing products and accessories. In an industry too often known for its rather blatant "borrowing" of others' designs, Tom stands out as a true innovator - the furthest thing from a me-too guy. In addition to successful designs he has done for some of the most prestigious names in the faucet business, he has designed numerous one-of-a-kind custom faucets for the rich and famous. Whether the assignment is to create something fresh within an established genre - say traditional, for example - or something completely outside the box and almost novelty-like, Tom's results are always fresh and distinctive.

Development and Production Engineering - Don & Mario

If Tom Robbins is "Mr. Outside," handling the skin of the product, Mario Semchuck and I are the guys handling the mechanical workings and overall structure of the product. In other words, we're the ones who work under the hood. 

Together for more than 25 years now, we like to think we are innovators, too - the results just aren't as visible as Tom's. With about 40 patents between us, Mario and I have individually or collectively created new mechanical concepts in faucets, shower valves (including pressure balance), sinks, instant hot water dispensers and systems, soap dispensers, pot fillers, showerheads, specialty aerators, drain controls and diverter valves. Providing turn-key engineering services complete with fully toleranced production drawings, we work in all the popular software programs: Autocad, Pro/ENGINEER and SolidWorks.

Electronics - eTAP Associates

Our capability in the fast-growing field of electronic plumbing is handled by an associate with extensive experience in the technologies of infrared, capacitive and radio frequency. Past projects include hands-free faucets, flush valves and soap dispensers.

Why Farm It Out?

Why do our clients use an outside contracting service for design and engineering needs? For those that don't have in-house staff for those functions, the answer is pretty obvious, but what about companies that do? Isn't hiring outside contractors redundant and costly compared to using company staff? Over the years, our clients have found otherwise, and here are some of the reasons they tell us: 
  • We can offer expertise in specific areas not available internally.
  • We have the luxury of conducting and completing projects uninterrupted (we're not pulled into other issues midstream, as is often the case in-house). This translates into better focus and faster completion.
  • We are paid only when we work for you (and you don't pay us any benefits).


How We Work With You

Though Mario and I are the only "staffers" within Fluid Designs, we also coordinate the activity of Tom Robbins and eTAP into a common service for our customers. Clients can use our service functions separately, or combined into a coordinated project with oversight from a single project manager. If you have a project involving any of our functions that you want to discuss with us, we would be happy to hear from you. I'm the contact person for inquires, and you can reach me here:
Don Arnold
847 918-7015
donarnold@earthlink.net


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