Lean Processes

Lean Processes

In today’s  fast moving consumer world, it is important for industries to come up with tools and processes that are responsive to the consumer trends. While we hear about smart and lean processes, there is a big area of engineers in the design, validation and sourcing departments where the lean processes  have not come center stage yet and are still in the file-based zone and shared folder, while  information is shared either through hard copies, emails or FTP. This practice at any company is the area where the management can focus on introducing a lean process. The trend of 2D drawings is slowly shifting towards the 3D modelling as it has become very important for companies to come up with 3D models that can entice the consumer and give a wonderful consumer experience.

In one of my many conversations with a customer where they are a tier I/ tier II suppliers to OEMs, they have a basic issue of sharing information across departments and within departments of the latest designs or documents. There is a mismatch on the information received at the manufacturing end from the design where the design could already be changed but the manufacturing / suppliers would still be working on old designs. This has resulted in product defects and recalls and huge cost to the companies.

Most innovations globally are being supported by 3D. Organizations are creating ground breaking products which offer wonderful consumer experiences, for example, an automatic drive car where there are many variables that has to be considered in the real world. These variables are called active elements, for example, the road terrain, moisture on the road, climatic condition, traffic elements, etc. 3D Design software should be able to take into account active elements in the environment rather than working in a static environment. A designer is designing not just from the perspective of a designer but also from that of an individual  who is validating and testing and manufacturing to make an effective design. The designer is working as an analyst and for an analyst a proper 3D Design tool should be provided  so that he is empowered to create the desired functionalities and is able to factor in the active elements of the environment and design any product which will allow to create an innovative design quickly and there is limited changes between different departments. All the testing and validation and manufacturer parameters are already available to the designer during the design phase itself which allows the designer to create a ground breaking product in  a  short time and less time is spent later on modifications. This is possible only with the introduction of a data driven or model based 3D Design software rather than file based software where the transfer of information is seamless between different departments. While reducing the manual process of information sharing, all the non-value added activities are thus reduced which makes the design process lean.

3D Design in lean process

The usage of 3D design software, it should take into account the requirements of an analyst and help them work in a collaborative environment with the other departments to capture the initial customer requirements and finally deliver a full proof 3D designed product that can be used by the Testing and Simulation team to run the simulation on the same design which goes to the manufacturer who uses the same design to be used during the manufacturing process. So a single source of information is going across all the departments and there is no discrepancy, hence following a lean process.

If what I have experienced with my interactions with different executives of multiple companies, it all boils down to cost. Cost could be anything from tangible to intangible incurred cost. Companies are looking at reducing the cost at any cost to come up with quality products for the consumers. The 3D Design software that can be used at all the phases of manufacturing starting from design, test and manufacturing, is the key to ensure that the company can use to produce a quality product at minimal cost. Another important aspect of saving cost is the prototype cost for test and validation, if the 3D Modelling software can be used not only for design but also to create virtual prototypes using the same model and adding the simulation capabilities, it would save a load of cost for creating physical prototypes for testing, hence reducing the cost incurred for making a durable and reliable product, thus taking advantage of a lean process.

The most common requirement for companies today is to have a collaborative environment where the information can be shared and there is a single source of information for everyone. And if 3D modelling software can provide a collaborative as well as model-based design features using active information then it will be a tremendous asset to the company, to all the stakeholders, thus reducing cost to company and giving an edge to the company over its competitions and help to produce innovative products.