2.18.2014

Why Don't All Manufacturing Companies Design Products that are Easy to Manufacture?

David M. Anderson recently published a book titled Design for Manufacturability: How to Use Concurrent Engineering to Rapidly Develop Low-Cost, High-Quality Products for Lean Production, and I just had to ask him a few questions, such as: Don’t all manufacturing companies design products for manufacturability? How could they not? Why will all manufacturing companies benefit from a book that shows them how to design products for manufacturability?

Here is David’s complete answer:

Engineering schools usually teach students to just design for function. This book completes that education by showing company engineers, and their managers, how to also design for low cost, design in high quality, enable Lean production with standardization, and design for fast ramps to stable production. 

Of all of these goals, cost is the most misunderstood to the point that counterproductive policies can actually raise total cost. For example, pressuring engineers to lower "cost" but primarily quantifying only parts’ cost will encourage them to specify cheap parts, which will raise quality cost even more. Another cost myth is that cost can be easily reduced after design, but the book shows that 80% of cost is determined by design and that trying to reduce cost later drains resources from new product development and introduces many new variables that will delay product development and raise many other costs. 

The book shows management how to structure new product development efforts so that design teams: (1) have enough multifunctional resources available early to work together in complete concurrent engineer teams and (2) have a higher proportion time up-front time to do a thorough design that avoids delays to fix things later and, paradoxically, gets products faster to paying customers. 

A key element of this thorough up-front work is to optimize product architecture and develop families of products so that Lean production factories can quickly and easily build many standard product variations (build-to-order) and specials (mass customization). 

How does your company determine product costs? What are your biggest barriers to fast product development?

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