Is my product design set up for easy manufacturability?
Innovative ideas drive companies, but there needs to be a healthy mix of innovation with manufacturable plausibility. Just about any product can be manufactured at low volumes when initial lead times can be longer and process flexibility is still an option. But, as demand grows, those areas of flexibility can evaporate quickly.
This step, above all others, impacts every part of your ability to increase output to meet demand. If this is your first product launch or you've had steady demand for a while, tunnel vision of the final product design might make issues a little hard to see. That's why it's important to get an outside view of your designs. This view can be completed by internal engineering and manufacturing team members working on other projects, or an outside firm that has expertise in designing products for manufacturability.
During the manufacturing-team deep dive, there are two key areas to explore: the assembly flow and the assembly handling. This process allows you to make decisions about how your manufacturing process and work cells need to be set up to work efficiently. And, you'll get insight into where you can potentially work in automation resources so you're ready to keep up with increased volumes.
When the engineering team looks into the design, they can provide a sanity check on the overall design. For instance, you'll get information on if the parts are designed for the right fabrication processes that are needed to keep up with volume. They'll also be able to give you guidance on material waste, secondary operations and inspection and control dimensions – all things that unintentionally drive fabrication costs. Additionally, if pieces aren't lining up between the engineering and manufacturing teams, you'll find out if redesigns are required.
If you already have your engineering and manufacturing teams working through the deep dive into the product, and you've budgeted time in for redesigns, you're leaning toward the growth path. Outside partners can still help you in this process if you want a solid outside perspective, but it's more beneficial if they're involved in other processes. That way there can be smoother transitions from design to build.
However, if the timelines for getting the design right are tight, outside design support is a great way to work through issues in a more streamlined fashion. That option leans toward the scale path. And, when you're looking for a partner in this area, you'll want to make sure the company has extensive knowledge in design considerations that impact warehouse automation products.