WHEN TO REDESIGN?

WHEN TO REDESIGN?

A question for the ages. There are really a lot of reasons to redesign like modernizing the product, adding features, etcetera. But there are couple not so obvious reason I want to talk about here.

Many times as a product is developed, initial volumes are low and the focus is getting a working product to market. The methods and materials used to produce it are based on low volume and are geared to keep the initial startup costs low. After all, if it is truly new, how can you be sure if it will actually sell? And, it’s not unusual for a company to just keep producing it that way if it is successful.

So the first reason would be part cost reduction.

Case in point. I worked for a company a number of years ago that had developed a product that used two aluminum parts. They were machined from 1’ thick aluminum material into two half circle parts and each one had 6 holes machined into them. One set cost $40.00. even after the product had become successful they just kept making them the same way for years. Eventually we redesigned the product and were able to create the half circle shape as an aluminum extrusion with the holes included in the profile. The extrusion was then sliced into 1” lengths to give us the finished shape. The new part did not have to be solid so we were able to substantially lower the weight and cost. The cost of a set with the new design was only $5.00. We actually wound up with a better product and a huge savings.

The second reason I want to discuss here is to reduce assembly cost.

Case in point. We were manufacturing a stand from an aluminum

extrusion. The feet for the stand where also fabricated from the same extrusion. Holes were drilled for mounting them to the uprights, for mounting the wheels and for attaching the cross-bracing. End caps were cut from aluminum strapping, drilled and fastened to each end of the extrusion feet. It took 30 minutes per stand to fabricate the feet. By redesigning the feet as a plastic injection molded part the need for the bracing was eliminated, the wheels were just snapped in and two self-taping screws held each [foot] to the uprights. The total assembly time for the feet was reduced to 3 minutes. Besides the obvious labor savings this had a huge impact on the backlog in the department that made them. So we had a better looking and higher quality solution that improved customer service and reduced cost.

If you have a part or product that is difficult or time consuming to produce, why not give DREaM a call and put our 30+ years of experience to work for you.

Design Smart, Design Right!

IS THAT ONE SIZE FITS ALL SOLUTION ACTUALLY “THE SOLUTION”?

IS THAT ONE SIZE FITS ALL SOLUTION ACTUALLY “THE SOLUTION”?

Occasionally, yes, usually kind of sort of, other times not at all. The problem with one size fits all is that in order to fit all, trade offs need to be made. Typically, they are designed with the average in mind.So how can a one size fits all, fit all well? The answer is it can’t. There are many possible short comings; only meets some of your needs, difficult to adjust to meet your needs, you have to make compromises, or you sacrifice quality, to name a few. But, I think the short coming most people don’t think about is features you don’t need. Typically, machines are designed to appeal to as many people or applications as possible. Adjustability and features cost money and it is entirely possible that all the adjustment and features drive the cost up beyond what it would cost for a right sized machine.

Case in point. Many years ago I was involved in a project to

replace a stacker for a blanking press. The stacker in use was built in the 50’s. At that time sheet thicknesses used in most products were considerably thicker. When stacking the thinner sheet thickness used today it was a struggle to get the stacker setup in a way that would not damage the sheets in the process of stacking them. The sheets were pushed out onto a series of rollers on each side of the stacker. When the sheet was all the way into the stacker the rollers would flip out of the way allowing the sheet to drop unto a pallet. It was difficult to get the stacker setup so the sheet would fall flat without damage.

The more modern stackers used air to float the sheet out into the stacker. When the sheet was all the way in the stacker it was no longer able to stay afloat and the air cushion that floated the sheet to start with also cushioned it as it fell. Commercial air stacker cost around 125K which was well outside our budget. But, the truth is they are also built to handle large variety of sheet sizes and material thicknesses. By designing a stacker to fit our needs we were able to build a custom stacker for 25K. So we had a custom solution, that better fit our needs, for considerably less than the cost of a prebuilt machine.

But be beware, custom can also be one size fits all as many designers will try to fit your needs and requirements into what they have done in the past. For more information about our unique approach, check out our post on “What is “Micro-Iterative Collaboration””.

Dan R.

Design Right Engineering and Manufacturing