Optimizing the production process is essential for growing any manufacturing business. An accurate analysis of your production steps can allow you to save time, material and human resources that are part of your production chain. It will have a clear and direct impact on your profit margins. Wondering how to get started? Design for manufacturing and assembly (DFMA) is a proven method that can help you.
Developing a product is like running a marathon. Manufacturing companies know this, and work hard to quickly bring to market products that meet all their customers' expectations. While racing to the finish line, your teams are working hard to ensure the quality of functionality, appearance and reliability of the product, while keeping an eye out for the quality of service and the cost of materials. All things that are on your customer's radar, and which frequently exclude the manufacturing and assembly stages.
As a result, while the cost of parts and materials has already been limited to your supply chain, these steps can prove more complex and time-consuming than necessary.
Why Use DFMA ?
This is where the use of DFMA makes perfect sense. It enables you to design and develop a product by simplifying the manufacturing and assembly stages, without compromising product functionality.
How can you reduce waste? By targeting and eliminating all sources of waste that creep into the production chain. In order to target them, ask yourself these three fundamental questions for each product development.
- Is this part essential? Removing a part means it won’t need to be purchased, produced, stored, or assembled into the product. In other words, it alleviates all the production logistics.
- Can these parts be standardized? Can we attribute common characteristics to them? Can the same part be used for several products? In both cases, this facilitates quality control and reduces production costs.
- Can manufacturing and assembly time be reduced? The point here is to analyze the most reliable and fastest way to acquire a part, handle it, and integrate it into the product. Designing parts with universal installation direction and providing a predetermined location on the product are ways to save time on the floor.
Continuously Improve Your Production Processes
DFMA aims to simplify the product structure, and reduce manufacturing and assembly costs. By comparing the effective assembly time to an ideal assembly time, it allows you to achieve an efficiency ratio that indicates the performance of the product during its development. Ultimately, the systematic quantification of results makes it possible to create product design guides—an asset for following best practices in your projects, fostering team creativity and enabling the continuous improvement of your production.
DFMA in Action
DFMA comes in four stages during a product development project. It starts with product analysis, continues during the optimization and validation of the improvements, right until the launch itself.
#1: Analyzing the Product
Product analysis is the place to begin. DFMA envisions this step in three parts.
- Establish the cost of the product: Calculate not only the cost of materials, but also that of labor.
- Determine all product functionalities: Are they essential for the customer? Ask your customers to learn and understand what they need. Non-essential functions can be offered as an option.
- Identify the issues likely to weigh down the project using video recordings from the floor. You can observe cases of waste and the complexity of operations during the assembly and manufacturing stages, so that engineering can adjust. It’s also a question of determining the best practices and poor practices of competitors, and identifying unique features offered by suppliers that the project could benefit from.
#2: Optimizing the Product
This step is at the heart of DFMA. Set up multifunctional workshops in which all affected departments take part. For example, production, purchasing, engineering and management.
A team review makes it possible to think about the product in a holistic way, focus on its essential and secondary functions and, finally, on the parts that constitute it. This general-to-specific approach is conducive to optimization, particularly because it offers an overall view of the project and of all the variable costs of labour, raw materials, equipment and design, or factory charges.
#3: Validating the Concepts
All ideas for improvement generated during the multifunctional workshop must be developed and tested by the engineering department. At the end of this process, the multifunctional team assesses whether these concepts still correspond to what was decided during the workshop then validates, if applicable, the launch of the product.
#4: Launching the product
Once the product is launched, what’s left is verifying that the improvements are reflected on the floor. Any adjustments should be minor, and this is one of the great advantages of DFMA: each new product is ready to be launched quickly, because the blockers have been identified upstream by the multifunctional team.
DFMA Applied, in a Few Data Points
We have successfully tested this method with many customers.
- Frontmatec: 20% reduction in assembly time and 29% reduction in costs throughout production
- Morgan Schaffer: 25% reduction in manufacturing costs
- Ver-Mac: 10% reduction in material cost, 20% reduction in manufacturing time, 8% overall productivity increase in 2020
- Fives: 30% cost reduction across production
- Fontaine Aquanox: 50% reduction in manufacturing costs, 50% in the number of parts and 50% in assembly time
Beyond the numbers, your teams can derive many benefits from DFMA:
- Increased mobilization of all stakeholders
- Feeling of being heard through the sharing of ideas
- Good understanding of the operations and their scope
- Refocusing on customer needs
- Closer ties between engineering and production
- Resolution of all problems in a single project through the upstream and downstream implication of the engineering department
- Transparent production processes
In short, DFMA allows you to optimize your products, and engage the enthusiasm of your teams for your upcoming projects. With a little agility, you can easily free up engineering time and reallocate it to your production to pave your way to success!