As global manufacturing competition gets more intense, manufacturers are implementing more automation and taking advantage of DFMA practices. This trend affects both design and manufacturing engineers.
Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is all about reducing the cost of piece-parts. Design for Assembly is all about reducing the cost of putting things together. At a recent forum on Design for Manufacture and Assembly, a conference on manufacturing and DFMA practices hosted by Boothroyd Dewhurst, speakers expressed their views on how imperative it is to adapt DFMA and lean practices early on in the product design phase to further close the cost gap, making reshoring an even more cost-effective solution.
Lean manufacturing practices, automation, and innovation are critical elements in production location decisions. The relationship between engineering and production is well understood -- innovation works best if the two functions are together. A report from the Harvard Business School documents the negative impact of separating these critical functions. It’s also in the self-interest of engineers to encourage domestic manufacturing, because if their companies offshore manufacturing, engineering is likely to follow.
Lean manufacturing and DFMA can help manufacturers early on to make better design decisions that reduce costs. The larger costs are associated with materials and process. DFMA can guide you to eliminate unnecessary parts and processes, resulting in significant cost savings.
With labor becoming a smaller part of most companies’ total cost, and much of the cost savings opportunities residing in lean and DFMA manufacturing, why endure the higher costs and negative aspects of offshoring? Making better-informed decisions through the use of TCO and gaining a competitive advantage through lean processes and DFMA will enable US companies to locate more manufacturing closer to home and strengthen the US economy.
— Harry Moser founded the Reshoring Initiative to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US after working for GF AgieCharmilles, starting as president and retiring as Chairman Emeritus.
— Sandy Montalbano contributed to this article.