Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. Keeping it Simple, Managing Technical Knowledge, Manufacturing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)and Adopting 3D CAD Engineering What the Best Performing Manufacturers Do - 5 Product Development 3D CAD

What the Best Performing Manufacturers Do - 5
Keeping it Simple, Managing Technical Knowledge, KPI’s and Adopting 3D CAD Engineering

Essential Product Development for Engineers
Product Development 3D CAD

Importance of Keeping it Simple

As a small manufacturer, it is crucial to get all your people working as productively as possible. One way of doing this is to minimise any activities that do not add value – in other words cut out waste. However, having read much of the advice in this section, you’ve probably realised there is a lot of emphasis on improved organisation, planning and processes. Now, for some this may initially appear more bureaucratic.  And surely paperwork doesn’t add value?

Well, the truth is a well organised better planned process drives efficiency and so delivers a leaner, less wasteful product development process. Alongside this, the best way to obtain the advantages of a leaner better organised product development process, is to ensure you keep documentation and processes ‘as simple as possible’. Keeping things simple sounds obvious, but too often is not adhered to. Practical examples include:

  • The use of clear language, where everybody is familiar with the terms (including acronyms)  
  • Simple layout with eligible text, plenty of white space, and the key messages conveyed clearly.
  • Logical layout of procedures and processes. Use number sequences and version control, all adhering to a clear system employees are familiar with and can learn quickly.
  • Use images and diagrams to quickly convey messages. Pictures really do speak a thousand words.

Engineers are deeply technical people by nature, often happiest when talking the jargon of their respective industry sectors. However, there is the risk of over-complicating things where it comes to specifications and other technical documentation. This can add to development lead-times. Instead the aim should be clarity and information that is fit for purpose. Additionally, keeping things simple has the advantage of reduced misunderstandings and resulting in fewer defects, better quality, as well as faster training.


Technical Knowledge Management: Access to Product Development Information

The product development process rapidly produces lots of data. Reports, spec sheets, research literature, CAD models, technical drawings, quotations, CNC code – the list goes on. Organising and storing this information in a logical fashion assists product development team members find and access it when they need to. Document and data version control is crucial here. Keeping data in one location also helps. If done well, the advantages include more efficient communication, better decision making and better quality through fewer mistakes.


Understand What You Do, Then Improve It - The Importance of Manufacturing KPIs

Just like performance management for people, it is worth understanding what you are doing well, so you can refine and further improve it. Successful performance during product development, like other business processes, can be tracked and measured using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These need to be measurable and comparable. Appropriate KPI’s for product development may include:

  • Tracking the number of engineering change requests during the process
  • Length of time for process stages
  • Component and assembly reuse
  • Overall time to market

KPI between projects, together with lessons learned, can often drive product development process improvements.

Common KPIs used by manufacturing businesses include the following. In turn each of these have sub-categories that can be measured. Click on the image below for more. 

  • Customer Experience & Responsiveness 
  • Quality 
  • Efficiency
  • Inventory
  • Maintenance
  • Compliance
  • Flexibility and innovation
  • Cost and profit
  • Logistics

Manufacturing Metrics that Matter the Most: A Comprehensive Checklist (Courtesy of Cerasis)

Product Development 3D CAD

The Adoption of Computer Aided Design and Engineering Technologies

Embrace modern technologies such as 3D CAD, together with all its derivative technologies like 3D Printing, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) etc. They all contribute to a dramatically improved development and manufacturing capability. The CAD Engineering Essentials section provides a clear explanation of how they can significantly benefit your business.


Product Development 3D CAD

See how new industry trends and web-based technologies  are enabling a new very rapid approach to product development, concept design and prototyping (Courtesy of Eureka Magazine)

How CAD and all other derived Computer Aided Engineering technologies can dramatically improve your product development process. 

Next... Costing Considerations and Cost Reductions

Back to Product Development Essentials 

When was the last time your business developed a NEW product? ...Or is 'Product Development' too far removed from your core Production Engineering activities?

Does your firm have a clear product development process, with a number of new products released to date? ...Or alternatively, do you think bread and butter production engineering is really what matters? Tell us about your product development experiences...

Share your story...and receive a FREE copy of our report 'Helping Your Manufacturing Business Thrive'...

PS: Feel free to name-drop your firm! There's nothing wrong with a bit of free publicity!

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