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Editor’s Pick: Design for Assembly Software Updated

Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:

Our profitably is frittered away by details. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your assemblies be as lean and value-based as an engineer can make them be. OK, not quite what Thoreau was getting at, but a thumbnail account of why today’s Editor’s Pick of the Week should be important to you.

Yesterday, Boothroyd Dewhurst announced Version 10 of its DFA (Design for Assembly) Product Simplification software. Now, generically what you may think you have here is a cost management system. But that notion alone is selling DFA short by a mile. DFA is intended to help you attain time and physical cost savings from concept through manufacturing and through all phases of a product’s lifecycle.

The basic idea here is that DFA helps you get to a design that uses the minimum number of parts to meet or even exceed your specifications. But even that savings is only a third of it. It also helps you achieve a design that is easier and faster to manufacture, assemble, and service. Finally, by doing all of that, it helps you design and deliver more robust products. And higher-quality products should reduce both warranty and service overhead. For that matter, you might as well add in reduced scrap and rework costs to your savings because the individual parts emerging from a DFA analysis are designed to be manufactured efficiently and correctly the first time.

Still, IMHO, DFA is really an engineering whetstone. That is, it helps you systematically question and refine your design assumptions and strategies up from the individual part. And it helps you compare design alternatives, identify unnecessary parts, and estimate and control your part, assembly, manufacturability, and service outlays from time through difficulty. Consequently and over time, DFA trains you to conceptualize and design your complex assemblies without unnecessary parts and lifecycle complexity. Fewer parts, shorter design cycles, more robust products, streamlined manufacturing, and reduced service costs can only enhance your bottom line.

DFA Version 10 seems designed to be easier to use and faster. The user interface has been redone to help you make decisions faster, and DFA 10 incorporates some new automation features to speed estimates. Additionally, it offers some newly developed research for handling and assembly of large or heavy parts.

A few years back, I got to see DFA and its complement DFM (Design for Manufacture) and meet some of its users. (DFM provides a systematic approach for determining part and tooling cost estimates for new designs, alternative materials, and processes from the earliest stages of development.) Users swear by it, and you can read a small example of that in the form of a testimonial included in today’s Pick of the Week write-up.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see,” old Hank Thoreau once said. DFA might be just what you need to see your designs in a whole new way. You can judge the potential effect of DFA on your lean and value-based engineering initiatives by watching the video linked at the end of the write-up. Highly recommended that you do.

Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

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About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.