Engineers on Demand: Fill Technical Gaps with a T&E Contract

Resource Type: Blog |

One of Patti Engineering’s lesser-known portfolio of services is that of time and expense (T&E) contracts for engineering-related work. This option offers manufacturers a flexible means of addressing engineering staffing-related challenges, which can be particularly helpful in a variety of different circumstances. Recent examples of T&E related work completed by Patti Engineering are discussed in this article. 

The Patti Engineering team includes a large pool of skilled engineers that handle a broad range of manufacturing automation and robotics projects. However, in addition to completing integration projects, Patti Engineering engineers are frequently hired on a T&E contract basis for their engineering expertise. This option can be particularly helpful to address a variety of staffing challenges that include:

  • Replacing an engineer who is taking a leave of absence
  • Adding extra engineering support for a particular project
  • Adding extra engineering support for unfamiliar technologies
  • Service contracts

Since Patti Engineering has offices in Michigan, Indiana, and Texas, T&E contracts can also be used to reduce a contractor’s travel time and expense for onsite work in these locations. As Siemens, Ignition, Mitsubishi, Beckhoff, FANUC, and Arduino partners, Patti Engineering engineers’ manufacturing automation and intelligence expertise includes:

  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) / Industry 4.0
  • PLCs & CNCs
  • Robotics
  • Process simulation
  • Resolving system start-up or commissioning issues
  • Virtual commissioning
  • Consultation on throughput or quality issues
  • Emergency engineering troubleshooting and related services

The remainder of this article discusses three recent T&E engineering contracts in which Patti Engineering engineers brought needed skill sets to support a large retooling project, equipment run-off, as well as emergency support for unfamiliar equipment.

Emergency Partnership Technology Expertise

In this particular T&E example, a local Detroit-based company reached out to Patti Engineering to access their engineering knowledge surrounding Siemens technology. The client was preparing lift-assist equipment destined for a prominent automotive manufacturer’s Texas facility.

Lift-assists are systems that help an operator to handle a heavy or otherwise awkward part and place it in an assembly. A simpler design relies on pneumatics to power the lifting and movement. However, in applications involving heavier or otherwise awkward loads, or in applications requiring high precision, a servo-based system is a better choice. These systems are controlled by a PLC which in turn manages the servo drives, providing maximum control for balancing and manipulating the part.

While the company’s lift-assist equipment has a standard design that mainly requires tooling changes to customize it for a particular use-case, their design centers around Rockwell Automation technology. This equipment needed to be Siemens-based.

Because the lift-assist company had no prior familiarity with Siemens equipment, they were having issues configuring the drives for this heavy-load application. Due to their own previously favorable experience working with Patti Engineering, the automotive company recommended them to the lift-assist company for drive configuration support.  As a Siemens partner holding certifications in automation, drives, and digital industry software, Patti Engineering engineers were able to offer emergency onsite engineering expertise to address the immediate issues and configure the drives. Thereafter, the client set up a T&E contract with Patti Engineering to support the installation of the equipment within the automotive manufacturer’s Texas facility. Patti Engineering continues to provide support on an as-needed basis at this facility on behalf of the lift-assist client. Most recently, Patti Engineering was able to provide their Siemens expertise to support an onsite software installation. This flexibility has been particularly helpful to the lift assist manufacturer, as they are based in the greater Detroit area, and Patti Engineering has an office in Austin, Texas that is close to the automotive company’s facility.

Filling the Role of an Engineer on Leave

A recent T&E contract taken on by Patti Engineering involved joining a prominent automotive company’s engineering group to replace an engineer who was taking a several-month medical leave of absence. The group was in the process of retooling a large amount of equipment that was being brought in from a different facility. The particular engineer who was going on leave was the only individual within their group who had familiarity with the incoming equipment and a particular software template used by the company.

Patti Engineering provided an engineer who was able to join the group in a timely manner and provide the software engineering expertise needed to integrate the equipment within the new facility. Because the engineer had significant prior programming experience using Siemens TIA Portal and other similar tools, he was readily able to learn the company’s proprietary software template.

Although the engineer was originally brought in for programming support, his robotics knowledge base became an additional valuable resource for the client. Some of the incoming equipment included FANUC and other robots that needed to be integrated into an existing line and PLC. Since Patti Engineering is a long-standing FANUC Authorized Integrator, their engineers have a significant robotics background. The Patti Engineering engineer was able to reconfigure teaching points and work through the integration process for the robots.

While the original contract was for three months, the client extended the contract to six months and would have preferred to continue it longer had his higher-level management given him the budget to do so.

Supporting Equipment Run-Off

When a transmission manufacturer could not readily find local engineers to complete installation work for equipment coming into their facility in Kokomo, Indiana, a vendor referred the manufacturer to Patti Engineering for this purpose.

The T&E contract was set up to include one to three Patti Engineering engineers for support as needed. Patti Engineering engineers initially spent some time at the original facility to become familiar with the equipment prior to shipping. Then, once the equipment arrived in Kokomo, Indiana, engineers worked onsite to install and configure the new equipment including transmission final test stands, oil calibration machines, conveyors and robots. They were able to help the facility to ensure equipment operational readiness, conduct a full runoff, and otherwise prepare for full production. The engineers were able help with all aspects of this installation and production support including:

  • Integration of equipment into the assembly line
  • Connecting to facility MES systems
  • Adjusting and tuning machine tasking
  • Troubleshooting issues as needed

To summarize, Patti Engineering offers engineering services that support a diverse range of manufacturing automation and robotics needs. A T&E contract provides a flexible means of addressing engineering gaps as they come about, allowing manufacturers to maintain operational continuity, augment engineering staff for capital projects, as well as provide emergency engineering support.

For more information on how Patti Engineering can provide engineering support to your facility reach out to:


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Sam Hoff's Bio


Samuel M. Hoff, Chief Executive Officer, started the company from his home in 1991. Since then he’s expanded his business to more than 35 college-degreed engineers. Patti Engineering has engineering offices in Auburn Hills, MI, Austin, TX, and Indianapolis, IN.