How many people won’t admit that they have trouble reading blueprints or maps? They might smile and nod as they look over a 2D plan, but not everyone’s mind can translate the information spatially into a 3D image in their head. When it comes to safety training and emergency preparedness, do you want to leave things up to chance with a map? Probably not. If you are going to take the time to sit people down and run through a training exercise or plan of action, it makes sense to do everything in your power to make sure everyone understands the procedures being discussed.
How more frequently would you train personnel on a particular apparatus or piece of equipment if you had a realistic replica to work with rather than the real thing? Gaining experience with a product, or learning how to maintain or maneuver equipment is imperative, but not always possible to do with the real thing safely, cost-effectively or without risk of damage through mishandling.
Training models can be of assistance in both of these scenarios.
A scale model of a particular space – be it a building or other structure – reveals its anatomy accurately and clearly. Exits, entrances, traffic flow, escape routes, locations of important objects, all become readily recognizable to the observer. It makes training procedures to follow during an emergency or other incident more understandable. Instead of everyone pretending that they understand the 2D image presentation of where things are located and what directions to follow in particular scenarios, more people will actually be on board. In an emergency, this lay person’s understanding may make the difference between a positive outcome and a hugely negative one. And isn’t that the purpose of preparedness training after all?
Similarly, using a replica of your product or products to train personnel on, is often more cost-effective and efficient to execute. Realistic training models of your products are less expensive versions of the real thing. They can be used in training exercises without risk of damaging the actual product and without the time or logistical complications of procedures done within the real environment. From firearm simulators like BLUEGUNS, to loading and packing training tools for industrial purposes, models are able to improve performance in an economical, yet productive, way.
Recently KiwiMill shipped out 5 display models for our client, Anaren, representing the circuit boards they make for radars. These will be trade show displays and include a plane, ship, 2 trucks and a satellite that house radars within them. More photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ammodelmakers/sets/72157626468589207/.
When it comes to sales presentations, having an industrial model sets your product apart from the competition. A color brochure of your product, or a video demonstration will not deliver the impact an industrial model in hand does. A model is ultimately informative, answering specific questions about your design. It can highlight particular features or strengths of your product while providing the necessary focus and excitement to your presentation.
The product itself is often too large, too heavy or simply too cumbersome to travel between sales meetings or trade shows. A model, on the other hand, is portable yet instantly recognizable and understood. No need to worry that the potential client cannot visualize your product from a 2 dimensional drawing or photograph. This direct understanding about what you are offering will likely translate into a more positive experience and increased sales.
A model maker can work with you to provide an accurate, visually pleasing, detailed-as-you-want model in a user-friendly scale. Specific features can be emphasized on the model, making it easier for your sales staff to illustrate your product’s uniqueness. Duplicate models can be constructed for whole sales teams. No one should go into a presentation without this necessary sales tool in hand!
Today when I looked around the shop for the model maker‘s latest project, my eyes scanned the work tables for something small in scale. I couldn’t find anything. Where was the model?
It was staring at me at eye level, not on a table, but sitting on the floor.
It’s a seven foot tall industrial model of an asphalt plant. It will have all working parts. Anything that functions in an asphalt plant will be represented with moving parts on the scale model.
Why so large? Well the client has his can’t-be-divulged reasons for wanting this industrial model and the specific scale it is being built in. It makes for a great project in the shop. Take a look at some pictures of the job in progress:
Just shipped: a model of a trade show model of a cooling container for Schneider Electric.
Sometimes a scale model is more interesting before it is painted and detailed, rather than after. This is a model of a generator, which will be part of a larger model of an ESS (expandable shelter system). Looking at the unfinished model allows the observer to notice the variety of materials used in its construction.
OK. Maybe the scale model looks better when it IS finished….
A little talked about aspect of a model maker’s job is to figure out how to pack and ship a finished scale model. No matter how intricate and difficult a build might be, nothing compares to the challenge of getting a model safely to the client in one piece. Scale models can be delicate works of art (though certainly not all of them are) and white glove handling by a dedicated carrier is not always feasable. Shipping companies like Fed Ex and UPS are reasonably priced but do not generally ensure (or insure) that models will arrive unscathed. It’s up to the model maker to give as much thought to the way a scale model will be packed as he has to its design and construction. A project isn’t complete until you get word that the model has been received undamaged.
Different packing methods are used for different types of scale models. Smaller projects (under 2×3 ft) are usually packed in premade hard shell boxes called Pelican cases. They come with solid foam inserts that are then carved to fit the model snugly inside. Similar to how a camera or cell phone is sometimes packed when you buy it at a retail store.
Some models are not as hardy and will be unable to lay in the foam openings without damage. These projects are often secured at their base to a crate and the rest of the model is encased in a protective shell and wrapped securely with packing tape. Mummified in a way.
Some crates are built in the model shop, particularly for bigger pieces. Wood crates were custom made for these trade show models, secured on shelves with screws. A local courier then transported the crates to the client.
A scale model might be delivered by the model making company itself, anchored by way of wooden blocks and screws to the bottom of a truck floor. Some common carriers may pick up a model on a skid or pallet, depending on its over all size. Often the shipper is UPS or Fed Ex. With these carriers, there is a chance of the model being dropped, or otherwise roughly handled and occasionally a project will need to be returned for repairs or the model makers will go on site to fix damage in transit. It’s easily one of the most frustrating parts of the job, but skilled model makers know exactly how to repair their work.