Design-for-Assembly Is Crucial to Design Success

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Douglas Alexander
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Re: Who is responsible?
Douglas Alexander   2/22/2013 11:56:13 AM
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@Freebird, you are correct. We did our own manufacturing, but at the system levels only. The PCB stuffing and machining and sheet metal fab all were outsourced. So, we had not so much of a vertical integration thing going as much as a hybrid manufacturing operation. We did not have a Turnkey Assembly House because our product line was more characterized as a low volume, high mix. The end product was almost custom for each delivery. Our internal BOM management was based upon configurable BOMs. I liken this to a Restaraunt model, where all the food stores are in the kitchen, but the customer can pick and choose from a menu to suit his or her particular tastes. Our storehouse had sub assemblies that could be mixed and matched depending upon frequency, bit rate, modulation, power, antenna size, cable or wave guide interfaces, single or redundant circuitry, software options for alerts and alarms, mobile vs. stationary...etc. So, the sales people would sit down with the customer and fill in a sales order check list reflecting all of the options above. A data entry clears would plug in all the selections and the BOM configurator would spit out the resultant materials requirements. The order would be included in a master schedule for MRP, and we're off to the races. Our procurement people would order components, modules, and assemblies accordingly. The various qualified suppliers would handle their respective parts of the order and ship the goods to our factory for final assembly and test. As you can imagine, the BOM configuration software was critical to the whole operation and saved us tons of time over having to enter each new Top Level Product into the Item Master with unique part numbers. We cross referenced the Sales Order to the Customer's specifications and serial numbers and that is how we tracked field units and created reorders quickly. Pretty nifty, Huh?

FreeBird
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Who is responsible?
FreeBird   2/21/2013 4:01:20 PM
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Douglas: it sounds like the example above happened within an organization that still did its own manufacturing. If that is the case, better communication is the solution. But what about outsourcing? I've had the impression for awhile that the DFX function belongs to the EMS. Does that work any better or worse than in-house?

syedzunair
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Re: DFA is crucial
syedzunair   2/21/2013 2:44:02 AM
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Yes, those are pretty difficult to find these days. 

Douglas Alexander
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Re: DFA is crucial
Douglas Alexander   2/20/2013 8:57:48 PM
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@William, I was sent by our company to scope out the Philips (Phone division) in Scotland as a possible remote factory site for a project we were building for the U.K. The plan was to set up a factory within Philip's factory and staff it with Quality Assurance people from our US Based company. So, you are right about trying to maintain harmony between an engineering operation in one country and a factory in another. As concerns DFM, DFA, and DFT our plan was to equip the factory with the product's manufacturing needs in mind. That way DFA, DFT, and DFM as built into the entire operation. It was a short run, single customer operation so newer product introductions were not a factor in this particular equation. When working with remote CMs, we always asked for an equipment facility list and process and procedure standards before selecting the factory. We also did site visits and surveys to check for calibration compliance and ESD safeguards. There is never an initial 100% compatibility as unique fixtures and training always seem to be part of the manufacturing process. We also had the factory hire local labor that reported to our operations people so there would be no conflict of interest on quality or yield reports. But there is no doubt about it, when the cat is away, the mouse will play.

William K.
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Re: DFA is crucial
William K.   2/20/2013 8:27:25 PM
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@Doug, it is more difficult to watch a manufacturing process on the other side of the world. That 15 hour plane ride each way is a bit of a deterrent, as well. Not to mention the language barrier.

William K.
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Production Synthesizer
Re: DFA is crucial
William K.   2/20/2013 8:22:06 PM
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Syedzunair, You Are Exactly correct! The alternative is a manufacturing department that is able to do everything. Those are fairly rare.

syedzunair
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Supply Network Guru
Re: systems engineering
syedzunair   2/20/2013 1:26:37 PM
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elctrnx_lyf:

I would say that it is important to ensure collaboration amongst the departments. If they continue working in silos the issues will continue to exist. They must learn how to function as a single unit with a broader goal. 

syedzunair
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Supply Network Guru
Re: DFA is crucial
syedzunair   2/20/2013 1:11:23 PM
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Designers must be familiar with the limitations and the capabilities of the manufacturing departments. Any designs must only be approved after a careful scrutiny from the production. Communication is the key here and must be done effectively. 

Brian Fuller
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Examples?
Brian Fuller   2/20/2013 12:45:54 PM
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This is a great thread, folks. I'd be interested in hearing some real-world company examples. What companies do you consider to be doing DFA well? Success here is not easy because it requires technological support (obviously) but cultural acceptance, and the latter is always tricky. 

elctrnx_lyf
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Supply Network Guru
systems engineering
elctrnx_lyf   2/20/2013 2:13:56 AM
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This is one of the important reason why it is important to have engineers who have system level thinking. It is very important to have the manufacturing team as part of all product concept discussions.

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