Over the weekend, I decided to change the lights in our family bathroom. Having been lit by “feeble little wicks” since we moved into the house, now many years ago, I thought it about time we changed from the “gas guzzling” incandescent bulbs to nice new cool LED lighting. The result was amazing – instead of a hazy yellowy bathroom that consumed 260 watts of power to light up, we now have something transformed into 2013, much brighter, a clean white, without shadows and consuming less than 40 watts of power. Go planet!
The bad news however, is that now I can see some of the imperfections that were left “undone” after the last round of decorating I had thought at the time that a few minutes more work could have seen the perfect finish, but, I guess I was tired, and eager to move on, and it got overlooked. Now, I was annoyed. These things needed sorting. What would have taken a couple of minutes back then would now involve significant cosmetic surgery, and lots of mess…..
In all things that we do, I guess there is the price of each “nth” degree of “perfection”. The fact is though that when something goes wrong, the effort to sort out and apply corrective action is inevitably many times more costly than the small additional effort at the time. Perhaps it is smart to look for “perfection” in what we do, as a small investment in preventing far larger amounts of work later on.
In the Design through Manufacturing process, the same rule applies. Designers are tasked with creating products against a certain specification that will return a success in the market. How is the “perfection” in the design measured? For sure, there are metrics associated with finishing the design on time, such that the product performs to the expected functionality and capability within a certain cost and timeline. Today, this approach is no longer enough. Driven by strengthening commercial and competitive issues, a lot more attention has to be made on how well the design performs through the whole NPI process, ensuring that the product can be introduced and manufactured effectively. The risk here is that should something be found later in the design that would create issues during fabrication, assembly or test, call-backs to the designers will be made, which can reflect badly on the design team, and will distract the designer, resulting in a re-spin and a repeat of the whole NPI process. which in themselves lead to further mistakes and delays. It would seem far better to be a “perfectionist”, to avoid these distractions, to spend just a little more effort to check that the design was as “perfect” as it could be for the whole NPI process flow.
How far do you go though, surely it follows the law of diminishing returns? The design could be fabricated and assembled potentially at many locations around the world, even by many different companies with different capabilities and processes, and certainly using a wide range of different materials. Does the designer need now to be an expert in global manufacturing? This is clearly why previously, designers stop short of “perfection”, there is a practical limitation.
The key solution is to break this limitation, to bring in a tool that can effectively model fabrication, assembly and test know-how into simple rules for design to observe, and further, ensure that communication of the design is then clearly and completely communicated to the following stages of the NPI process. This is simply the role of Valor NPI and the ODB++ format. Valor NPI automatically performs hundreds, if not thousands, of product level NPI orientated checks for both fabrication, assembly and test, far more that any regular design review could ever hope to achieve. Many potential issues can be found, and each resolved in a click, rather than a long chain of emails. Result!
There is the realisation then that the whole NPI process works as a team. Once the right tools are in place, people are working together helping each other, with so little effort, they may not even be aware of it. Requirements from assembly can be picked up and expressed in terms of rules applied at the time of the design check. Rules that include input from Process NPI stage can take the perfection in design that one step further. Valor NPI and Valor Process Preparation together as the Product NPI and Process NPI tools work together focussed around ODB++ to provide the opportunity for complete design perfection, ensuring that nothing is left to chance, nothing is going to come back to disturb the next design process. For the manufacturing side, it is a smooth ride with design related issues under complete control, variations in the manufacturing requirements are removed, and control is back with the manufacturing engineering and management. Valor Process Preparation takes the fully qualified product model as ODB++ and immediately is able to prepare SMT, manual assembly and test processes across any platform across any line configuration.
The direction of the market is to “do it right first time”, which when applied to design means that designers will increasingly be evaluated on the full performance of the product design, as it is introduced into manufacturing, and beyond, perhaps even in the future including market performance.
For now though, get ahead of the game. See our webinar on this subject, which explores this world of connection between Product level NPI with the Valor NPI tool, and the Process level NPI with Valor Process Preparation.
I guess now that I should follow my own advice and get in a painter and decorator……..