Back to Basics with DFMA

About eight years ago, Hypertherm embarked on a mission to revamp the way it designed products. Despite the fact its plasma metal-cutting technology was highly regarded and the market leader in the field, the internal consensus was that product complexity could be reduced and thus made more consistently reliable, and there was an across-the-board campaign to reduce product development and manufacturing costs. Instead of entailing novel engineering tactics or state-of-the-art process change, it was a back-to-basics strategy around design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA) that propelled Hypertherm to meet its goals.

The first step in the redesign program was determining what needed to change. A steering committee with representation from engineering, manufacturing, marketing, and business leadership spent weeks trying to determine what was required from a product standpoint to deliver radical improvements in both product performance and product economics. As a result of that collaboration, the team established aggressive new targets around robustness and reliability in addition to the goal of cutting the parts count and labor costs nearly in half.

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One Response to “Back to Basics with DFMA”

  • Mick Maguire:

    Good stuff Mike, but what steps are you taking to make this kind of CI the norm in the business? If I am understanding you right you setup a special steering committee to drive this change, but wouldn’t it be better to continually have CI teams engaged in such activities as part of the everyday? Are you already doing this, but this was an extra effort?

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Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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