Designing a product for manufacturability (DFM) is generally part of an overall design methodology/process that generally involves reviews, assessments, risk identification, etc.. Whether you’re implementing a phase gate, Agile, or most likely some hybrid type of process, DFM should be part of the process (not something that is tacked on at the end).
At Acorn, we’ve evolved our design process in a way that integrates DFM at every stage – we’ve found that approach to be the most efficient and cost-effective way to bring a product from concept to production. When designing a product, we start with a defined set of requirements (often in the form of a Product Requirements Document/PRD or Marketing Requirements Document/MRD) that is produced from both a design and manufacturing perspective. We work closely with our clients to include the following areas in the document:
Let’s look at these areas in more detail:
The above information not only helps to define the product and its requirements from both a design and manufacturing perspective, it also helps to identify potential problem or risk areas early in the process so they can be worked on as quickly and efficiently as possible. For example, suppose it’s determined that a manufacturer must have a class 10,000 cleanroom of a certain size or with certain types of equipment in order to produce the product. Or that certain parts or subsystems of the product need to be made of food safe materials and be easily disassembled for cleaning will impact both the design and manufacturing of a product. Each of those requirements may have a significant impact on the design and its manufacturability – understanding those up front and including approaches to satisfy those requirements from the earliest stages of the design will reduce the amount of design spins and time it may take to identify and qualify suppliers who can meet the requirements.
Next time – why it’s important to work with your supply chain as early as possible
Ken Haven has been CEO of Acorn Product Development since the company’s founding in 1993. Ken has more than 25 years of product development experience including technical leadership roles with NeXT Computer, Attain, Inc., and Hewlett-Packard. He holds MS and BS degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.