Imagine you need to print a document. You can do it yourself: buy an appropriate equipment (a printer), all the consumables (cartridges, paper), provide a place and appoint a responsible person that will implement everything and print the document. You also have another choice and call a printing service: in this case you only need to formulate a task (what to print and how) and you will get the result, while the process organization, equipment and consumables costs will be on the service supplier. The result remains the same – your printed document, but the way you get this result is different, and every company can choose its own way.
You can have the same choice in the field of engineering development. A manufacturing company can have its own design department with engineers and project management, and design and develop any new part, process or technology on their own. It’s also possible to assign this task to a partner company specialized in engineering consulting.
In modern realities this kind of company structure (all-by-ourselves) might have less advantages than before, because of difficulties to coordinate the work of all specialists and to ensure a steady work load for everyone. Engineers involved in the design of the part are idle when serial production starts. Documentation specialists are idle at the stage of testing samples ... In such conditions, it turns out to be justified to resort to an engineering company that can take on the design and development of parts, provide access to specialists during peak periods without expanding the client's own staff, or support when narrow specialized competencies are needed.
Engineering consulting is a service!
Russian companies have developed a historical tradition of full-cycle production, when all stages of product development and manufacturing are carried out by full-time employees.
This was justified by production volumes and the planned Soviet economy, but does not imply flexibility and ability to adapt to market changes.