Technology versus magic
Some customers are hard core machine builders that know what they want. When they send you specs for the control system you get timing diagrams, their take on how the logic should flow, full mechanical drawings on the system, and direction on what electronic packages they want to use and how much of the overall machine footprint has been set aside for the control components.
It's easy to provide a quick estimate of component costs and the number of hours required for the assembly and programming of the electronics. My team can focus on what they do best while I research suppliers and look for the best blend of economy and functionality.
Some customers are scientists that have cobbled together a test bench version of what they want. The bench "machines" are usually an amalgam of parts they had lying around the lab. The result may work, but it is not a machine that can be efficiently reproduced. They lack the engineering vocabulary to clearly express their desired finished product.
So the team takes pictures and does field drawings on the bench model. Then the real fun starts. Trying to reverse engineer something that was never engineered in the first place.
I received an RFQ on just such a contraption last week. I scanned what little information I had and emailed it to my team. The Skype get together was predictable. Much grumbling about how engineering wasn't FM and there simply wasn't enough information to proceed. There was some discussion about resorting to chicken entrails and wishing for magic crystals to help understand what we were being asked to do.
We ended the meeting and I went into PT mode; C assumed the DI role and we went through my halo-limited exercises, followed by a long walk. I always trail just far enough behind her to appreciate the view, but she wasn't having any of that. The old guy needed to keep up. As an incentive, she promised much better views later. Funny how that always works.
When we got out of the shower I went back to my office to look over the material again; sometimes exercise and fresh air clear the cobwebs and the second look makes the problem seem more manageable.
Someone had added two new items to my desk; a wizard's hat on the back of my chair and a crystal ball in the middle of my desk.
There was no need to round up the usual suspects.