Posts Tagged ‘Engage Design; Product Design; Cost Savings’

Creating a brand that lasts.

chillinOne of the best ways to improve your brand is to improve your products.  The most common way is to provide more goodness for less cost – think miles per gallon.  Usually it’s a straightforward battle between market leaders, where one claims quantifiable benefit over the other – Ours gets 40 mpg and theirs doesn’t.   And the numbers are tied to fully defined test protocols and testing agencies to bolster credibility.  Here’s the data.  Buy ours

But there’s a more powerful way to improve your brand, and that’s to map your products to reliability.  It’s far a more difficult game than the quantified head-to-head comparison of fuel economy and it’s a longer play, but done right, it’s a lasting play that is difficult to beat.  Run the thought experiment:  think about the brands you associate with reliability.  The brands that come to mind are strong, lasting brands, brands with staying power, brands whose products you want to buy, brands you don’t want to compete against.  When you buy their products you know what you’re going to get.  Your friends tell you stories about their products.

There’s a complete a complete tool set to create products that map to reliability, and they work.  But to work them, the commercialization team has to have the right mindset.  The team must have the patience to formally define how all the systems work and how they interact. (Sounds easy, but it can be painfully time consuming and the level of detail is excruciatingly extreme.)  And they have to be willing to work through the discomfort or developing a common understanding how things actually work. (Sounds like this shouldn’t be an issue, but it is – at the start, everyone has a different idea on how the system works.)  But more importantly, they’ve got to get over the natural tendency to blame the customer for using the product incorrectly and learn to design for unintended use.

The team has got to embrace the idea that the product must be designed for use in unpredictable ways in uncontrolled conditions. Where most teams want to narrow the inputs, this team designs for a wider range of inputs.  Where it’s natural to tighten the inputs, this team designs the product to handle a broader set of inputs.  Instead of assuming everything will work as intended, the team must assume things won’t work as intended (if at all) and redesign the product so it’s insensitive to things not going as planned.  It’s strange, but the team has to design for hypothetical situations and potential problems.  And more strangely, it’s not enough to design for potential problems the team knows about, they’ve got to design for potential problems they don’t know about. (That’s not a typo.  The team must design for failure modes it doesn’t know about.)

How does a team design for failure modes it doesn’t know about? They build a computer-based behavioral model of the system, right down to the nuts, bolts and washers, and they create inputs that represent the environment around the system.  They define what each element does and how it connects to the others in the system, capturing the governing physics and propagation paths of connections. Then they purposefully break the functions using various classes of failure types, run the analysis and review the potential causes.  Or, in the reverse direction, the team perturbs the system’s elements with inputs and, as the inputs ripple through the design, they find previously unknown undesirable (harmful) functions.

Purposefully breaking the functions in known ways creates previously unknown potential failure causes.  The physics-based characterization and the interconnection (interaction) of the system elements generate unpredicted potential failure causes that can be eliminated through design.  In that way, the software model helps find potential failures the team did not know about.  And, purposefully changing inputs to the system, again through the physics and interconnection of the elements, generates previously unknown harmful functions that can be designed out of the product.

If you care about the long-term staying power of your brand, you may want to take a look at TechScan, the software tool that makes all this possible.

Image credit — Chris Ford.

Moving From Kryptonite To Spinach

popeye spinachWith websites, e-books, old fashioned books, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs, there’s a seemingly limitless flood of information on every facet of business. There are heaps on innovation, new product development, lean, sales and marketing, manufacturing, and strategy; and within each there are elements and sub elements that fan out with multiple approaches.

With today’s search engines and bots to automatically scan the horizon, it’s pretty easy to find what you’re looking for especially as you go narrow and deep. If you want to find best practices for reducing time-to-market for products designed in the US and manufactured in China, ask Google and she’ll tell you instantly. If you’re looking to improve marketing of healthcare products for the 20 to 40 year old demographic of the developing world, just ask Siri.

It’s now easy to separate the good stuff from the chaff and focus narrowly on your agenda. It’s like you have the capability dig into a box of a thousand puzzle pieces and pull out the very one you’re looking for. Finding the right puzzle piece is no longer the problem, the problem now is figuring out how they all fit together.

What holds the pieces together? What’s the common thread that winds through innovation, sales, marketing, and manufacturing? What is the backplane behind all this business stuff?

The backplane, and first fundamental, is product.

Every group has their unique work, and it’s all important – and product cuts across all of it. You innovate on product; sell product; manufacture product; service product. The shared context is the product. And I think there’s opportunity to use the shared context, this product lens, to open up design space of all our disciplines. For example how can the product change to make possible new and better marketing? How can the product change to radically simplify manufacturing? How can the product change so sales can tell the story they always wanted to tell? What innovation work must be done to create the product we all want?

In-discipline improvements have been good, but it’s time to take a step back and figure out how to create disruptive in-discipline innovations; to eliminate big discontinuities that cut across disciplines; and to establish multidisciplinary linkages and alignment to power the next evolution of our businesses. New design space is needed, and the product backplane can help.

Use the product lens to look along the backplane and see how changes in the product can bridge discontinuities across sales, marketing, and engineering. Use the common context of product to link revolutionary factory simplification to changes in the product. Use new sensors in the product to enable a new business model based on predictive maintenance. Let your imagination guide you.

It’s time to see the product for more than what it does and what it looks like. It’s time to see it as Superman’s kryptonite that constrains and limits all we do that can become Popeye’s spinach that can strengthen us to overpower all obstacles.

A Recipe for Unreasonable Profits

There’s an unnatural attraction to lean – a methodology to change the value stream to reduce waste.  And it’s the same with Design for Manufacturing (DFM) – a methodology to design out cost of your piece-parts. The real rain maker is Design for Assembly (DFA) which eliminates parts altogether (50% reductions are commonplace.) DFA is far more powerful.

The cost for a designed out part is zero.  Floor space for a designed out part is zero. Transportation cost for a designed out part is zero. (Can you say Green?) From a lean perspective, for a designed out part there is zero waste.  For a designed out part the seven wastes do not apply.

Here’s a recipe for unreasonable profits:

Design out half the parts with DFA.  For the ones that remain, choose the three highest cost parts and design out the cost.  Then, and only then, do lean on the manufacturing processes.

For a video version of the post, see this link: (Video embedded below.)

A Recipe for Unreasonable Profits.

 

Engage product design in DFMA now; achieve 30 to 50% later

I wrote an article on the level of savings when product designers are engaged in DFMA. 

Here is an excerpt:

 This month, Shipulski details the company’s lean product-design efforts as he issues a “call to action” for lean manufacturers everywhere to involve their product-design teams. 

Why should the manufacturing engineering community care about engaging the product design community in pursuits such as design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for assembly (DFM)? The answer is simple—to make (and save) money

Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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