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Posted June 26 2019
Written by Zachary Montreuil

Improve Your Products’ Performance with the DFMA Methodology

Does your organization finds itself in one of the following situations?

  • Your products are performing for your client, but manufacturing them is sinking your productivity.
  • Your engineering team is out of ideas as far as reducing the cost of production is concerned.
  • You can feel the tension between the engineering team and the production team.
  • Anticipated profits are just not happening.

If that is the case, a DFMA should be able to give a renewed impetus.


What is DFMA

DFMA means “Design for Manufacturing and Assembly.” Optimized designing is also used in literature.

DFMA is used to design a product to make its manufacturing and its assembly simpler all while meeting your client’s requirements.

To succeed, there are three basic principles to a DFMA

3 Fundamental Principles to DFMA

1. Reduce to a minimum the number of parts

Fewer parts means more benefits for everyone:

  • Fewer parts to design and manage for engineers
  • Fewer parts to store in inventory
  • Fewer parts to manufacture
  • Fewer parts to feed to assembly
  • Fewer parts to assemble

2. Standardize

Why would you need to reinvent the wheel when you can implement the same best practises already in place for other products?

Standardization means using the same parts, hardware and raw materials as much as possible. It also means using the same designs for several products. Engineering is thus made easier in order not to start over or from scratch every time a sale is concluded.

Standards allow a quick and effective response to the client’s demand.

Limiting variation also entails the reduction of inventory, number of Kanbans at each workstation, and risk of errors. Standardization should be implemented throughout the organization and apply to all their products.

3. Facilitate input, handling and installation of parts

Parts designed during a DFMA initiative should be easy to use, there should only be one way to install them, only one place that they fit into, reducing to a minimum errors made on the manufacturing level. 

A good example of a non-optimized product is a USB key, it simply is not instinctive to know which way it should be inserted in the computer port; more than half the time, we insert it upside down!


How a DFMA Initiative Should Be Carried Out

A- Learn all there is to know about your product in its current state

This first step should supply the answers to 3 crucial questions, ensuring the appropriate functioning of the initiative.

1. How much does the product costs?

The cost of materials is usually easy to find using the part list.

Whereas cost of labour, is more complicated to determine. A video analysis is often required to determine the cost per sub-assembly and per area.

2. What issues are affecting the product in its current state?

The issues...

  • Customer
  • Management
  • Procurement
  • Engineering
  • Production

As employees are often too close to the tree to see the forest, production issues often require being examined from the outside in. Operators adapted their methods to successfully manufacture complex parts. Assemblers developed templates and particular work methods to assemble the product.

3. What product characteristics contribute to meeting the client’s requirements?

A functional tree diagram allows matching each part to a specific function to which the product should correspond. These functions facilitate the optimization workshop and ensure that we focus on the client’s needs.

DFMA Product Features Meet Customer Needs - Createch

Image: DFMA Product Functions to Satisfy the Client’s Needs

B— Cross-functional workshops for product optimization

Every issues causing a problem must be solved during the optimization workshop.

Representatives from each department, of whom one is responsible for ensuring that client’s needs are met, are gathered as equals in the same room. During the workshop, a cross-functional team brainstorms solutions and designs that would allow solving the issues and improve the product.

DFMA - Multifunctional workshop product optimization - CreatechImage: DFMA Cross-Functional Workshops for Product Optimization

C- Validate new designs and prototypes

With several potential designs for each issue, enters the engineering team to further the thinking process and develop prototypes that will be revalidated along with the DFMA team.

Involving the same employees throughout the development process of the product’s new version allows reducing the time to market. Submitting designs ensures necessary changes are caught before the launch of production.

DFMA - Validate new concepts and prototypes - CreatechImage: DFMA Validate new designs and prototypes

D- Launch product and validate results

Once designs and prototypes are validated by the entire team, it is time to manufacture the product’s new version. During the production of the first series, it is important to confirm the estimated gains and act quickly if there are any remaining changes needed before finalizing the new version.


The Benefits of a DFMA Initiative

Engineering works on actual issues

Engineering teams are often asked to reduce the costs of products for the organization to be more competitive. Not having a profound knowledge of used manufacturing methods, and without any close relationships with the manufacturing facility as well as a focus on the cost of materials, designers do not know the impact of their changes on actual production.

With a DFMA initiative, the engineering team listens to the issues production employees are facing and works with them to rethink problem parts/sub-assemblies. 

Getting the engineering and production teams to collaborate.

DFMA allow breaking down the wall dividing the engineering and the production teams erected because of the engineering team’s lack of time for product improvement, which has become the organization’s bottleneck. The initiative is a great opportunity for both sides to take the time and have an open discussion about developing a product that actually corresponds to everyone’s expectations.

Product Improvement Culture

A DFMA initiative allows involving employees and offering them the space to speak freely, to listen and solve the issues they face on a daily basis. Once the new version is being manufactured and employees notice how easy it is to assemble the product, issues pertaining to other products will appear as clear as a neon sign.

Do you think a DFMA initiative could be relevant to your products and organization?

Need to develop a DFMA initiative? Contact us!

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