- Taking the design to production on time and within budget
- Construction of tools, jigs and fixtures
- Production layout and preparation of assembly and testing instructions
Product industrialisation follows design for manufacturing. Once the product cost and non-recurring expenses, such as plastic injection molding tooling and assembly fixtures, have been confirmed, a series of steps needs to be taken to transform the initial design into a production-ready product.
Customers are often under considerable pressure to generate income and so are tempted take short cuts such as passing straight from the initial working prototype to production without building and validating engineering samples, but this almost invariably leads to greater delays and costs than if the correct development plan had been followed. The following is a simplified description of the stages undertaken for product industrialization. In other words, a design’s transformation into a product that can be mass produced.
Many custom mechanical parts require tooling for plastic injection molded parts, aluminium die cast and metal stamped parts, among others. Since the lead time for such tools is relatively long, typically around six to eight weeks, tool design and construction is often one of the first steps to be taken for product industrialization. Once parts using these tools have been produced first article inspection reports are prepared and subsequent tool modifications implemented to achieve the desired part dimensions and cosmetic standards.
Material such as plastic resin and electronic components with long purchasing lead times are also immediately ordered once the design has been finalized. Lead times of six months or more are not uncommon and so it is important to make early purchases to avoid production delays.
With custom mechanical parts, off-the-shelf components and printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) the first engineering samples are made. These first samples are extremely useful for verification and validation (V&V) purposes, being used to assess the product’s performance.
To prepare for the first small batch production which incorporates the improvements stemming from the engineering sample build and replicates the final manufacturing process and quality processes, the production layout must be designed, work instructions prepared for product testing and assembly, assembly fixtures, to simplify production and reduce error, designed and built and a quality plan developed, which details the quality standards from individual parts to finished products. With this first small batch production V&V can be expanded to include defect analysis and variance analysis among other processes.
A second small batch production often follows the initial batch before the pilot production (PP). For this PP several hundred products are produced, and it is during this last build before mass production itself that the final adjustments to manufacturing and quality processes are made.
Ultimately, a well designed and implemented product industrialisation plan will minimize issues found after production thereby avoiding for the most part costly and time-consuming firefighting.