Design for Manufacturability

According to Wikipedia, Design for manufacturability (DFM) is the general engineering art of designing products in such a way that they are easy to manufacture.

The keywords to pay attention to are “art of designing products” and “easy to manufacture”. How many times have you bought a piece of furniture or toys for your kids and been stuck in the middle of the instructions because it wasn’t intuitive or if you were questioning the use of some material. For example recently I had to assemble safety gates to prevent my toddler from going up or down the stairs and I was puzzled by the use of plastic to fasten the gates to the walls.

In my mind IKEA has mastered the art of design for manufacturability. Some of the key features of their products that I like are
(1) simple design with minimal parts
(2) common parts and materials
(3) design for ease of assembly
(4) modular design with sub-assemblies
(5) mistake proof instructions (poke yoke)
(6) tools /kits necessary are clearly identified if not provided within the package

Companies embark on this process improvement methodology to
(1) reduce costs
(2) standardize manufacturing process
(3) reduce churn in design through ECO cycles which could be expensive if done later in the product life cycle
(4) get better control over product configuration and architecture
(5) eliminate/control risks related to reliability, manufacturability, feasibility, quality and liability

Some of the other benefits include
(1) get it right the first time
(2) lower production cost
(3) higher quality
(4) quicker time to market
(5) increased potential for automation
(6) increased re-use of components and fewer parts to manage via MRP/procurement cycles
(7) fewer ECO cycles

How do we go about design for manufacturability?
(1) Get your requirements clearly defined using MRD process
(2) Start to simplify designs and embark on optimizing product configuration and architecture
(3) Develop strategy for options / replacements per customer request
(4) Minimize number of parts and re-use components whenever feasible
(5) Reduce the number of specials manufacturing instructions (tolerance, surface finishes)
(6) Use the right materials to get the job done
(7) Increase collaboration between engineering/product development teams and the manufacturing teams
(8) Review design often and use a cross functional audience to explore options to reduce costs, increase re-use, reduce development time
(9) Use lessons learned from the past on failures and shortcomings of similar designs and avoid making the same mistakes

"Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions - expressed or implied - of my employer (present and past) "
"Please post your comments - Swati Ranganathan"


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