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Concurrent Manufacturing: Keeping Engineers & Manufacturing Close

 Ways to Design Products & Custom Parts with Concurrent Engineering to Improve Manufacturing
Generally speaking, the closer things are in proximity to one another, the higher the likelihood of cohesion and order. Distance causes that cohesion to dissipate and spread. There are certainly times when having the ability to spread something out is an advantage but as many in the manufacturing industry are painfully discovering, product development and engineering isn't one of them.

Outsourcing the manufacturing of custom parts, especially with off-shore sources, separates production geographically from the product development engineers. This often is accompanied by cultural and language barriers, as well as significant differences in labor and workforce management practices.

Separating the processes that are part of a the design and manufacturing of custom parts can seriously impact the success and profitability of that item, as well as the company that includes it in their line. There are a few primary reasons why this happens:
  • Team understanding: most design engineers are not well-versed in the nuances of the manufacturing process. Being far-removed from the actual manufacturing and the teams of people who oversee it, lessens the likelihood of a good stream of communication and understanding.
  • Constant turn-over of outsourcing companies: when companies foolishly chase the lowest bid and cheap labor, they lose sight of the consequences. Product development teams cannot hope to participate in the process with the manufacturing engineers if the outsourcing arrangements keep changing. Continuity is lost and understanding starts back over at the beginning every time this occurs.
  • Labor and safety concerns: China and other foreign countries are able to keep their costs low in part due to dangerous labor practices. There are an average of 205 deaths per day in Chinese factories and mines. Worker hours are brutal... 65 to 80 hour weeks at 65¢ per hour. Not only are the ethics of this highly disturbing but so are the rising numbers of errors, mistakes, recalls, accidents, and violations that contribute to elevated replacement costs and liability.
  • The natural constraints of distance: Production cost can potentially soar well beyond an initial lowest bid from overseas. Shipping can be long and expensive the first time around but how much more so if you need a replacement, return, or sudden increase in quantity! The hidden costs that come with port-of-entry fees, currency differences, and tariffs pad the actual price even more. Time delays due to oceanic problems can bog down the supply chain and even deteriorate customer relationships.
Concurrent engineering is a better way to design a product for manufacturability
Keeping processes close to one another, either in-house or at least with domestic sources within the same time zone to allow easy communication, is part of concurrent engineering for custom products. This allows engineers to design products and processes simultaneously, working closely with manufacturing operations as they do so. This prevents the design from necessitating outsourcing because engineering and manufacturing are working in tandem, allowing the production to remain internal or domestic. The company then has more control over the cost, quality, variety and delivery of their product overall.
Unique Tool & Manufacturing partners with their clients to help analyze the ways they can reduce costs and improve lean production practices. Their process focuses on how to accomplish this without adding extra work or delays while maintaining consistently high quality. The results have been very positive, as domestic manufacturing is finding ways to retain a competitive edge and improve their profitability through better supply chain management and simplification. To get more information on Unique Tool & Manufacturing or to learn more about concurrent engineering for custom parts call 1-734-850-1050 or contact us via the form below.
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