The Design Process for Success
Design for Use
After testing a prototype, ensuring it is safe, sturdy, user-friendly, and testing a list of other metrics, the mass-market design is only half over. While making sure a product is ready for use is essential to its success, designing a product that can be quickly and cost-effectively manufactured is essential to the businesses’ success. Before putting your design on the production line, an experienced manufacturing partner can help you optimize your design for production as well as for use. Knowing what you are designing for and prioritizing your production design objectives will help create a product that is both economically and functionally sound.
Design for Cost
A cost-efficient design process is essential for almost every item. If the manufacturing process requires more time, equipment, materials or energy than the product is worth, it is not successfully marketable, whether the product is a jet turbine intended for Lockheed Martin or a kid’s toy in a McDonald’s happy meal. Choosing materials, minimizing different parts, minimizing assembly needs or trading specialized processes for standard processes can all reduce manufacturing costs substantially. An engineering expert can suggest a few simple changes in a product design, such as adjusting sizes or parts placements, to eliminate whole processes from production, creating more units faster, cheaper, with higher profit margins.
Design for Assembly
While assembly is a key component of variable costs, the method of assembly can also impact start-up costs, production speed, defect rates, customization, and assembly location. A key consideration for assembly is automation versus manual assembly. While high automation yields higher production rates with lower defect rates, it also requires machines, molds, and a production line design and facility that suits the product, requiring higher start-up costs and creating more risk. For manual assembly, mistake proofing is essential, ensuring that the product can only be built one way and that a misplaced fastener, screw or peg cannot ruin subsequent assembly processes, or create dangerous or defective products.
Design for Logistics
After it is completed, a finished product must be packaged and transported, whether it is heading to distributors, retailers or straight to consumers. The most efficient logistics starts with a product that is built for optimal transportation and packaging. Larger items that teeter on the brink of 150 lbs or 108 in in length should be reduced if at all possible, qualifying them for regular shipping instead of requiring freight shipping. Depending on the type item in production, the dimensions of warehouse storage spaces, retail shelves, or shipping containers should also be considered. Removing a single protruding part and requiring some assembly upon delivery can reduce the packaging materials required, reduce shipping costs, fit more items in a shipping container and fit more items on a shelf for sale.