Reasons to choose a world class manufacturing partner early.
You’re the design engineer / inventor/ team and you have this great innovative product, you’ve cogged together 10 units, spent a ton of hours and money on getting them built and running and and countless more hours keeping them running. The good news, you’ve got your funding and the OK to move forward, the challenge, taking this design from the “fragile-works-mostly-with-a lot-of support” to producing 10’s of thousands of units with inexpensive parts, simple/fool proof/low cost assembly, with 100% part, assembly and top level yields. A world class manufacturing (WCM) partner can get you a long ways to this end game with your product.
Shortly after I started my R&D career at Hewlett Packard two key changes were made in how we organizationally approached product development. First, everyone went to the 3 day workshop on “Market Driven Product Development” and got the religion. No more cool product ideas by the R&D geeks to be developed THEN marketed. The second big change was the move to cross-functional integrated product development teams (Marketing, Finance, Quality, Manufacturing/Production, and R&D), staffed from the start. The effect of the integrated team was to eliminate the functional silos that existed along with all of the associated problems and inefficiencies associated with the inevitable “us vs. them” thinking. These changes were key enablers to HP becoming a printer powerhouse. In today’s world of outsourcing and/or off-shoring of manufacturing the silos are back and more problematic. My single most significant piece of advice is eliminate the silos with your outsourced partners and work very hard to be that “well-oiled” integrated development team. Select them early and get them involved early.
As I mentioned above, by engaging a World Class Manufacturing partner early in the design cycle you can improve product cost, quality, production agility, and time to market in some of the following ways:
Taking advantage of economies of scale in the existing supply base. For components and fabricated parts.
Fabricated parts designed with high yields ( work every time, fabrication process can easily produce parts to specifications, failure rates are reduced) – See an example of weak yields here ( Apple scrambles to fix it )
Avoiding part designs that can be assembled incorrectly. Parts whose orientation during assemble does not matter or parts that only fit will improve product yields and quality.
Avoiding special tools, fixturing, and/or tests on the production line.
These are just a few of the obvious benefits that should flow from a world class manufacturing partner. If not, consider engaging a manufacturing engineering consultant to work with your manufacturer to achieve the benefits of Design for manufacturability.
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This post is written by Mike Hoggatt – Leardon’s Director of Product Development