Value in Design

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Built in Value

Design for Manufacturing consulting in the design value chain.

Manufacturing is changing fast - as is everything in the world affected by the digital revolution. However as the leader of a small manufacturing company I see some things changing that should not change.

The discussion of value in the design of parts for manufacturing is an important one to have with today’s and tomorrow’s engineers and industrial designers. Component complexity is increasing and manufacturing tolerances are getting tighter.

There are cases where tight tolerances and extensive GD&T are needed for the functionality of a component - however more often than not parts are over toleranced in ways that provide no value to the end user or end function of the part.

This can increase component cost, and completely change the approach and process the machinist uses to produce the parts. It also affects the process to inspect and qualify the part to these specifications.

Technology available like CMM’s and on machine probing have made the amount of data available to manufacturers inspecting parts explode! The data a properly calibrated and configured CMM can collect on even the simplest parts is amazing.  However the question remain: Is it valuable?

At a certain point, taking things to that extra decimal place is not helping anyone involved, the end user doesn’t notice a difference and the design, manufacturing, inspection and eventually commodity price of the part all increase, taking away value from the supply chain by squeezing margins and not passing on any functional value to the final customer.

Often the simplest solution is the best - Occam’s razor ( a quick search and some reading are recommended)

Often engineers do not take the time to understand the manufacturing process in detail, or work with manufacturing partners to communicate the value of the final component that must be passed on to the customer.

Machinist often face quality challenges from their QC departments that can delay production. Some of the most common being questions like:

Does this radius really need to be +\-.002 ?

Does this angle really need to be +\-.05 degrees on the chamfer on a part? Or did the designer forget to change the tolerance on the title block?

When the quality department stops production or doesn’t approve a first off because they are holding true to a drawing, it costs everyone time and money.  It is our duty as a manufacturer to stick to the drawing as law, despite obvious over tolerancing.

Going back to engineering departments at large companies can delay projects past delivery dates, and it’s often hard to track down the original designer or push through even minor drawing changes - especially in industries like aerospace or other highly regulated safety critical applications.

How can we solve this problem?  Establishing a relationship between designer/engineer and manufacturer is the only way, being open to working with manufacturing professionals to review designs thoroughly before approval is essential!  

Design For Manufacturing Consulting (DFM) is an extra step in the design process, and it’s value can be built into a product at the design stage saving the entire product life cycle from increased costs, delay and value that has no meaning in the functionality of the part for the end user.

This problem has lead us at Sullivan Machine Works to add DFM services to our capability and offer our customers this value in their design process.

During this process we review designs, intended process, CAD models, work with engineers and designers to understand the end use and function of the parts and optimize the simplicity and manufacturability of the parts while keeping the value the end user needs.

If your interested in this process or having us review your designs please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about this process.