Some customers need to supplement an existing in-house team; others use teams of consultants to avoid long-term costs for a short-term project.
As early as possible! It is best to be brought on as soon as possible in the concept or design phase. Many decisions that get set in stone early on have long term impacts that lead to costly and inefficient work arounds. It is best to have a fully integrated approach leading to a design that is testable, manufacturable, reliable, and upgradable.
Initial preliminary and kickoff meetings usually take place at the client's location. I am available for on-site meetings but communication over email and other on-line tracking tools is usually more effective. Most work is completed off-site in my own lab where I have the resources and can work more efficiently on your project.