Velentium offers a selection of services that represents the entire lifecycle of a device. Our engineers, developers, SMEs, manufacturing technicians, and production managers who support those services work together continuously: they aren’t segregated by project stage.
Having production engineers working side-by-side with concept designers gives us an unusual vantage point on both the design and manufacturing processes. In this series, for which we are joined by Production Manager Devin Carroll and Technical Manager Soumendu Bhattacharya, we aim to share some of our insights.
In this series, we’ve described two different timetables for optimizing designs for mass production. We’ve called these Scenario A, where production engineers are brought in to help advise and guide development prior to the Implementation Phase, and Scenario B, the traditional or more common approach where adjustments are negotiated during the Release / Transfer to Manufacturing stage. We’ve also looked at the types of considerations production engineers bring to design, and discussed the scope of optimizations that are available in each scenario. Now, in our final post for this series, it’s time to lay out the two paths side-by-side for comparison.
Scenario A offers the smoothest, fastest transfer to manufacturing. The risk of encountering unanticipated roadblocks, such as component availability or supplier concerns, non-negotiable security concerns, and inefficient or untenable processes is minimized -- meaning the project is more likely to hit its original budget and schedule targets. Finally, letting production engineers review the design proposals early means that the widest possible set of optimizations is available at the lowest practical cost to implement.
However, Scenario A is not without its downsides. Its wider circle of involvement means that the design phase takes longer and costs more, which is a big deal if using working prototypes to help secure additional funding is required to keep the project alive. Moreover, if production engineers aren’t available in-house, there’s a greater risk that proprietary information could be exposed under Scenario A.
Scenario B offers a faster, cheaper early development path. It keeps production phase activities cleanly segregated, which may be a boon to management metrics. It constrains designers’ options less and production engineers’ options more, which limits the types of changes that are practical and ensures that the changes that do get implemented are simpler to manage and easier to control. Finally, it is the optimal approach for companies that want to retain the option of selling the design after proving it workable, instead of arranging mass production and bringing the product to market themselves.
That said, Scenario B has its downsides also. Because production engineers are evaluating the design for the first time late in development, the Transfer to Manufacturing process is slower. There is a high risk of project delay and cost increase due to redesign, or of manufacturing cost increase due to redesign requests being denied. Finally, because fewer optimizations will be practical by this point, the cost-per-unit to manufacture is higher than it could have been. Furthermore, this higher cost is typically a hidden cost, since many optimization options will be ruled “out of bounds” from the outset and will never be fully evaluated.
In sum, Velentium holds that Scenario A is the superior approach, for projects that have the additional time and budget available during the design phase. But when it isn’t the right fit, Scenario B remains a solid option. Either way, we hope that this series was useful to designers seeking to better understand the process of design optimization for production, and we look forward to helping you take your project to its next step -- whatever stage that may be.