As rising industrial production drives the economic recovery, leading manufacturers detailed their successful rebound strategies at the 25th annual International Forum on Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) in Providence, R.I.

DFMA results reported by ITT Aerospace, Hypertherm, IDEXX Laboratories, Boeing, Motorola, Pratt & Whitney, QSI, Raymond, Rockwell Automation, Southco and others strongly supported this year’s theme – “Turning Point: Preparing for a New Manufacturing Future.” The data, in many cases, showed significant cuts in material, labor and assembly costs that enabled companies to stay competitive, even profitable, despite the economic downturn. Several presentations also emphasized how DFMA helped generate manufacturing profits without moving production away from the U.S.

“Seeing our customers from so many different industries emerging strongly from the recession is tangible proof of the power of early design analysis,” said Nick Dewhurst, Boothroyd Dewhurst executive vice president. “Over three decades, DFMA has provided dramatic, measurable results in each changing cycle of global competition.”

DFMA software helps engineers quantify manufacturing and assembly costs early in the development process to reduce part count and labor, increase assembly efficiency, and benchmark competitive designs and materials. The resulting savings significantly reduce product development cycle time – reverberating down the supply chain from design through manufacturing and beyond to shipping and end-of-life. In the 25 years since the Forum began, users have reported an average of total product cost cuts of 50 percent.

Among the highlights of achievement presented were:

  • QSI Corporation (industrial and vehicle display terminals): 20 to 40 percent projected reduction in manufacturing costs and 50 to 80 percent reduction in assembly time. Savings passed on to the customer with no negative impact on profits.
  • Raymond Corporation (fork lift trucks): 41 percent reduction in part cost from an outsourced to in-house manufactured component, and a five-year projected 250 percent ROI on a modular redesign of fork lift backrest brackets into more efficient, standard sizes.
  • Rockwell Automation: Used Six Sigma tools to illustrate the strong statistical relationship between the information generated by the DFMA software to what is experienced in the factory and to improve Rockwell Automation’s DFA process to ensure a consistent global deployment. Shared an example of a redesign where DFMA software was used to achieve a 60 percent reduction in part count.
  • ITT Aerospace: For a ball-valve example, 55 percent reduction in part count, 58 percent reduction in labor, 24 percent total product cost reduction and improvement to product quality and a doubling of production throughput as a result of lean design.
  • Southco: Hinge redesign netted 33 percent reduction in part count and a total cost reduction of 53 percent, which enabled Southco to meet the customer’s price target and improve profitability.
  • IDEXX Laboratories (blood chemistry analyzer): 83 percent part count reduction, 75 percent reduction in assembly time, 40 percent reduction in weight with improvements in serviceability, reliability, inspection, documentation and purchasing management. 

“DFMA is a methodology to see things as they are, to define the problem, to ground people in the reality of the product and its parts,” said presenter Mike Shipulski, director of manufacturing at Hypertherm. “Once grounded, once the problem is defined, the solution – half the cost, half the parts, half the time – is real, and so are the savings.”

“Companies realize that early use of DFMA maximizes their Lean and Six Sigma efforts in ways that go far beyond incremental improvements,” says Boothroyd Dewhurst president John Gilligan. “There are practical and achievable methods that help generate profits and distinguish oneself from the competition. Those who have stayed focused on these truths in recent years are emerging well-prepared for the manufacturing environment of the future.”

About Boothroyd Dewhurst Inc.
Boothroyd Dewhurst was the first company to commercialize Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) methodologies and software tools, which make it possible to evaluate, estimate, and reduce the manufacturing cost of a product in the design phase through product simplification and cost estimation. Hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies, including Dell, John Deere, Harley-Davidson, and Whirlpool, use DFMA to cut the costs of their manufactured products and achieve design innovation in their markets. The company was founded in 1983 and received the National Medal of Technology Award in 1991.

Image caption:

The design engineering team at Hypertherm (Headquartered in Lebanon, N.H.) used DFMA to achieve an overall reduction in part count of 27 percent on their next generation of metal cutting CNCs, while adding features and performance capability and holding the price of the new product steady. On the manufacturing side, the team saw even bigger gains, with a 50 percent decrease in build and test time.  In addition—with the improvements in reliability, durability and serviceability — the team projected warranty cost-savings of 50 percent per unit and, as a result, recommended that the new EDGE Pro CNC have a two-year warranty.