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During Detailed Design, depending on the level of complexity, some manufacturing businesses will undertake an analytical review of the design. This may involve modelling a design to understand how it is likely to perform under different simulated conditions. As well as normal operating states, these may include extreme environments, thermal and vibration testing, as well as stress and strain loading. Other simulated testing includes structural, kinetic, fatigue and fluid flow analysis. Parts and assemblies can be reviewed and refined by understanding how and where they are most likely to degrade and potentially fail, and under what conditions.
3D CAD modelling, together with low cost computing power, has now made engineering analysis available for small manufacturers. Computer simulations in disciplines like Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), can now add real value to the development process, enabling components and assemblies to be optimised, before being manufactured. Engineering analysis is sometimes outsourced to specialist companies who then run various simulations, before interpreting the results and making recommendations to their client.
Engineering Analysis and Testing by CAD FEA Simulation
Detail Design: Engineering Analysis and Testing
Although the product testing phase has been included in the Detailed Design stage here, it is potentially very significant, depending on the nature and complexity of the product. Additionally, it may include certification and extensive trials, taking some time. Industry standards, legislation, regulation and directives may influence the amount and duration of any testing required, again depending on your product and industry sector.
Once the detail design of the parts, assemblies and product are complete, they will need testing to ensure they perform the function for which they were designed. A test programme should be set out to establish what tests are required, to which parts and in what sequence.
Test methodologies and trials plans may need to be devised in detail to ensure tests are fair and representative, as well as testing to the performance envelope of the product. The specification should be used to guide the process.
In Systems Engineering, verification is a process where you check (normally by testing or modelling) the part or system meets the requirements set out in the specification. Testing activities will vary depending on what you are trying to achieve. For example manufactured components may be checked for dimensional accuracy against drawings. Assemblies may be cycle tested to ensure they function in the way they are intended to. This may require the commissioning, design and build or hire of test rigs and other facilities.
Build quality may be tested to agreed assembly criteria. Also whole products will be tested to ensure assemblies interact correctly, their performance is acceptable and they are fit for purpose.
The variety of skills in the cross-functional team really comes into their own here. In particular, design engineers, inspection and test staff, as well as production employees all have a significant role to play. Sign-off requires the signatures of key technical staff, as well as senior management.
As stated earlier, Detailed Design is perhaps the most intense stage of the product development process, with probably the most at stake. It is also the stage most Design Engineers have a genuine passion for.
It produces tangible results as concepts finally take physical shape. In addition, this phase produces valuable data and technical documentation. Examples include research reports, 2D and 3D CAD work, analysis, test plans, instructions, quotations and external orders. With so much output, rigorous review by the cross-functional team members is critical.
Constantly refer back to the specification to ensure the product meets the requirements. Designs may need rework or refining. Document the outcomes of the review, to see and learn from your decision making. This doesn’t have to be exhaustive. Do what works for your business; be that a log book, a hard copy paper file, bullet points on an MS Word page, or more detailed reports or templates.
With so much at stake, and so much of the product lifecycle costs set at the design stage, make sure you are happy with your product Detailed Design process. Make sure it is right and fit for your purpose.
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