As two separate stories in this issue on international technology describe it, Japan has shown the U.S. the importance of design for manufacturing. It saves time and money and can lead to higher quality.
Naturally, design for manufacturing isn't the most important thing in engineering. Innovation is critical for success as well. But if the factory can't make the product, you limit your success potential.
But how do you measure whether you are really designing successfully for manufacturing? For that matter, how do you measure whether you are leveraging the entire supply chain as you design products? International consulting firm Six Sigma has a way.
The firm has developed a questionnaire for engineers to guide their thinking process in product development. Here are a few of the questions, and possible answers. Choose one answer for each.
1. Prior to bringing a product to market, you can:
A. Estimate the costs of raw material and assembly labor.
B. Estimate factory yields and potential warranty costs.
C. Predict total product life cycle costs and potential product profits.
2. When assigning part tolerances, you:
A. Copy the tolerance block from a pre-vious drawing.
B. Use experience.
C. Match the tolerance to the manufacturer's capability.
3. Your product manufacturing process:
A. Is defined by the manufacturing organization.
B. Uses concurrent engineering practices.
C. Is jointly designed with the product.
4. Manufacturing cycle time is:
A. Determined by the factory.
B. Affected by part design.
C. Is a design requirement.
5. Your design engineers:
A. Have been given specifications to design against.
B. Know the use of environment and have received input from the marketing department.
C. Have met customers and understand their quality, cost, and volume needs.
If you chose C in each case, Six Sigma says you are leveraging the entire supply chain.
How do you measure your own design success?