03/08/17 9:42 am

To ensure that quality products arrive on time, you need an expedited feedback loop from engineering and design to prototyping and the manufacturing floor.

That’s where design for manufacturability comes in. It’s a design method that takes manufacturing aspects into consideration early in the process, creating an environment in which several disciplines work together to make sure the design leads to cost-effective manufacturing.

This method brings with it a number of benefits, according to Steve Watts, writing on the Department of Defense’s Defense Technical Information Center:

  • Reduced development cost and parts count
  • Shorter development time
  • The transition to production runs more smoothly
  • Simplified assembly
  • Lower manufacturing costs
  • Fewer opportunity for mistakes, which helps improve quality

Beyond these advantages, design for manufacturability promotes teamwork and improves communication within your design staff.

Watts also lists 11 principles of design for manufacturability:

  1. Minimize the number of parts
  2. Minimize the number of fasteners
  3. Standardize
  4. Keep away from difficult components
  5. Use multifunctional parts
  6. Use modular subassemblies
  7. Use self-locating features
  8. Avoid reorientation when possible
  9. Provide accessibility
  10. Minimize operations and process steps

When do you implement design for manufacturability? Watts suggests the following:

  1. Consider conducting workshops or team meetings during the concept phase. Your focus should be on wholesale design changes, while taking care not to fine tune the design, as it could become obsolete. Think of this as a chance to consider the manufacturing impacts of one technology over another.
  2. The most effective time is during development, before the preliminary design review. This stage coincides with the time where trade study is most active, Watts said. There is still enough time during this stage to incorporate substantial cost-saving changes.
  3. It’s also possible to conduct workshops during the development phase after the preliminary design review but before the critical design review. The design is more fixed at this point, but there are still opportunities for cost savings. There is no time to incorporate major changes, so focus on fine tuning the aspects of the design that completed the preliminary design review.

Finally, Watts points to a few factors that will make the design for manufacturability process a success:

  • It must have a multi-functional team, with representatives from systems engineering, design, manufacturing, quality and floor personnel.
  • Use an independent facilitator, someone with no stake in the design and who can keep the workflow on track.
  • Conduct multiple workshops and break the system down into manageable parts.
  • Prep work should include an overall description of hardware, preliminary manufacturing assembly flows, and the inclusion of a cost baseline to carry out trade studies.
  • Brainstorm without borders. Don’t be resistant to ideas, don’t get bogged down on details, and don’t allow rank to slow down the free flow of ideas.

At Mars International, we know the value of collaboration when it comes to turning designs into new products. We make sure our design team is in communication with our customers’ design team, that our engineers work with our clients’ engineers.

Contact us today to learn more about how our contract manufacturing firm can design and produce quality products that meet your schedule.

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