How Concurrent Engineering Saves Cost in Manufacturing
When designing new components or products, cost is always a driving factor. To save manufacturing costs, concurrent engineering, wherein the design and manufacturing team works together during the development phase, can be used.
Rather than making the design and subsequent manufacturing processes discrete operations, in concurrent engineering, parts are designed with manufacturing in mind.
If a set process is planned for production of a part, the part can be optimized based on those parameters. If the manufacturing process has not been determined, both the design and production process can be developed simultaneously.
Using concurrent engineering, manufacturers can balance design elements to minimize part costs by utilizing existing processes, and develop a partnership with vendors to optimize their initial design for manufacturability.
Balancing Cost Factors in the Manufacturing Process
By the time a part is developed, approximately 80% of the part costs are fixed. Elements such as construction materials, dimensional tolerances, quality standards, and assembly methods all contribute to the overall cost of a part.
Balancing these elements can contribute to cost reductions by eliminating unnecessary requirements while specifying critical elements of the part.
For example, tighter than necessary dimensional tolerances lead to increased costs that do not add to the overall functionality of the part, but lax dimensional tolerance can lead to excess scrap and assembly issues. Working with the manufacturing department or outside vendor to develop the appropriate specifications for a part saves time and money during production.
Production Equipment Capabilities for Manufacturing
If a part is to be manufactured in-house or sourced with a specific vendor, the capabilities of the existing production equipment should be taken into account during the design phase.
This reduces the need for redesigns once a project reaches production and prevents the need for unanticipated large capital expenditures on new equipment.
If the manufacturing process is fixed, then all new parts should be confined to fit within the given process capabilities. In this respect, concurrent engineering can significantly reduce development costs, as well as the total time to market.
Vendor Selection for Any Outsourced Processes
If the production process is being outsourced, it is important to select a vendor who can act as a partner during the design and development process.
A good manufacturing partner knows their capabilities as well as their limitations and can provide an accurate assessment regarding the level of precision that can be achieved as well as the cost of a specific part.
Often, experienced suppliers can also suggest alternative designs or slight modifications that can reduce manufacturing costs without sacrificing the critical aspects of the part. Vendors with a knowledgeable and experienced team can be an invaluable addition to the concurrent engineering team and can quickly respond to design changes as needed.
By implementing concurrent engineering, manufacturers can prevent costly engineering changes once production has begun. Designing parts not only for performance, but also for manufacturability, is the ideal way to streamline development and balance production costs. Partnering with experienced vendors, whether it be fabricators, injection molders, machine shops, plating facilities, or other service providers, can expedite production and provide significant overall cost savings.