Simplicity can be your friend in any kind of design, including mechanical assemblies and products. In fact, the common practice of Design for Manufacturability (DfM) is based on keeping it simple. Within mechanical assemblies, as well as wire harness and cable assemblies, DfM is a critical element in increasing a product’s quality, speed to market and, ultimately, its success.
The least disruptive and least expensive way to address problems with a project is early in the design phase. The further into the design process a product makes it, the more difficult and expensive it becomes to pinpoint and correct any defects or issues. Through a set of DfM practices, specific guidelines help define various tolerances and other data to ensure each phase operates as desired before moving on to the next step in the design process.
Manufacturers hoping to improve product quality, reduce lead times, and increase profitability should consider DfM as a way of achieving these goals, and should consider the following when implementing its practices.
Reduce Design Complexities
The more complex the design is, the more opportunities for something to go wrong. Using the simplest form of a solution is often the most effective solution. It’s amazing how many designs end up on production floors or in user’s hands that are over complicated and difficult to produce and/or operate. The simplest solution is almost always the best solution, from a cost, manufacturing, use, and maintenance perspective.
Manual assembly of products inevitably increases labor costs and introduces the likelihood of human error. The simpler a mechanical design is, the more easily the assembly and production process can be automated through robotic or high-speed automation. Doing so leads to a more consistent and higher quality product that can be delivered more quickly.
Use Standardized Parts
Keep designs as straightforward as possible by using standardized parts when available. Commercial off-the-shelf parts (COTS) may be able to replace a component in your assembly and serve the same function while offering greater cost and time savings, not to mention less opportunity for failure. COTS have been thoroughly tested in advance, so their use can mitigate a number of costly risks.
Keep Installation and Repairs in Mind
Some mechanical assemblies can be large and/or heavy, but increasingly, they are required to fit inside smaller space claims. Ease of installation within the final end product should also be a consideration in DfM, and accessing it easily afterwards for any potential repairs or adjustments needs to be factored in as well. A poorly thought-out design could diminish any saved productivity on the production floor if installation becomes cumbersome and takes too much time on the back end.
Use Suppliers That Practice DfM
Perhaps the best way to save time and money is for engineers to partner with suppliers that can take their initial design and help to refine it using DfM principles. Often, an OEM’s designer who draws up its mechanical assembly configurations will benefit from having a second set of eyes to review the drawings. Ideally, this should happen early on in the design process, but it can be beneficial as a design review during any part of the development phase prior to production. Engineers who are focused on the design and manufacture of mechanical assemblies work with the latest technology, so they’re familiar with the latest industry compliance regulations and can often quickly spot areas for improvement to reduce the likelihood of failure and increase the likelihood of success.
MCL will gladly help your organization by providing a free design review and cost-saving analysis of your assembly. Simply click the link below to request your review today and, as always, reach out to our team with any questions.