Manual Manufacturing Work

Manual Manufacturing and Assembly

We take time to ensure the product is able to be built consistently.  We do our best to make the manual work as infrequent as possible and where we are unable to eliminate manual work, we design the product in ways to ensure a repeatable and reliable outcome from the work.   For example, we need an LED to have a certain defined distance from the printed circuit board to allow the LED to protrude just right through the enclosure lid.  To get that defined stand off, we use…a……standoff.  The problem comes when that effort does not produce the results we wish.

Error in Manufacturing

In this case the first production run produces the product with this installed spacer in the desired way that meets the fit needs. The problem comes when the next batch is run on the manufacturing line. The errors that came from the first batch production run, were not found in the … Continue reading

Gemba Walk

Go to the place where the work is performed, that is the Gemba walk.  This does not apply just to manufacturing, but also line managers and their respective departments as well as to project management. You want to know what is going on, what could be better, go unto the work space and watch and talk with the people doing the work.

Where the work is performed, depends upon the work.  For example, if you are the manager of a product testing department, the place where the work is performed is likely the lab,  Go where the Hardware In the Loop (HIL) rigs and see how things are going, go to the test rooms where the environmental (hot and cold) and other stimuli (vibration) are administered to the product.  Learn how this work is actually being done. Ask questions about how the work is going.  What sort of things are difficult and why? What can we do to make the … Continue reading

Muri – Overburden

Muri is waste associated with pushing people, processes and equipment beyond the limits or overburdening. An organization may be enamored of working large numbers of overtime hours, but any benefit for such some at a cost, and this is an example of overburdening.

I once worked at a place in which the employees averaged being at the organization for between 10 – 20 years, and had vacation time commensurate with being within the organization per the company benefits manual. The people that had been with the company that long had more than 4 weeks of vacation, which is 160 hours off of the 2000 hours or total work hours approximates 1840.  On top of this time off, the company also offered special days that it gave off to everybody – think Thanksgiving and Christmas for example.  Yet when it came to calculate the work the organization could undertake, the organization used 1980 per person to estimate the total amount of … Continue reading

Risk Management Through the Project Class

Risk Management Through the Project

In modern life, risk management is a fundamental discipline for success. This does not just apply to work life, or project management but also personal life. Today we are going to discuss the approaches and impacts on the project when there is insufficient attention to the risks to which the project will be subjected.  The risks to which our work will be subjected depends upon the what we are doing and how we go about doing it, that is, the strategies and tactics we employ to reach the objective.

Consider an automotive project to develop a new product. This will require understanding the need, creating the design, develop the manufacturing line and verify and validate the product and the manufacturing line, and ultimately launch the product at the production rate. We demonstrate in our SAE book, an example of how these phases work and how these phases share information.


Risk Management Class

We … Continue reading

Think, Take the Best, and USE it!

In Project Management One size does not fit all.

Product development and project management can be very complex and complicated with variations and permutations that make a prescriptive approach impossible to produce successful results.  That goes for any brand or type of project management.  What is important is to have an arsenal of skills, tools and techniques and use what is needed based upon the situation.  Couple this with a bit of creative thinking to allow you to adapt and find other ways.  This is the technical or project management version of Situational Management or Situational Leadership. 



For any approach to be successful we should take a system’s view and approach.   We need to know our organization and the operating environment. We should know the objectives and what our organization is willing to do to meet this objective.  The areas of technical concern are also of interest. For example,  I once … Continue reading

Poka Yoke Revisited

We continue the exploration of the Poka Yoke post.  In the last post we discovered in building the product (late iteration) we have found that building the product has some undue complexity.  Upon further exploration we find that the design engineers suggested spending some time to Poka Yoke these devices.  The project hierarchy decided to not spend the time and money.  So…….

Now it has become apparent that building this product in customer volumes, in a manufacturing facility with strict time constraints to build and revulsion of rework required some alteration.  It is too late to “add” this scope to the project, so instead, another project is spawned to adjust the design to address this easy to build incorrect concern.  This subsequent project will not be available at the start of production.

How is this solution better than addressing the issue in the original project?  There will likely be miss builds of the product that will require dis-assembly to … Continue reading

Right Manufacturing

Successful product development requires, ultimately, the delivery through manufacturing. After all, we are most likely for profit entity, and even if we were not for profit, in our effort to maximize our resource usage we should act as if we were a for profit.  Specifically, we do not squander our available resources. 

Mass production has many approaches, depending upon quality desired, and volume of parts to be produced as well as product and development cost constraints.  Selecting a manufacturer with a variety of possibilities is important, as it is then possible to explore the most promising method for the production run of this product.  Cultivating a relationship with such a supplier, makes it possible to bring your developed product to fruition quickly, and expediently to market.  It is not in your best interest to wait or stand idle. One such example of this type of supplier found at:

 We will write more about these alternatives in subsequent blogs.

Configuration and Change Management

by Kim H. Pries

Some people find terms such as configuration management and change management to be confusing and they are unsure what they mean and what the difference could be. We consider change management to be a higher order concept that includes the idea of configuration management. Let’s discuss configuration management first!

Classical configuration management in the mode of the U.S. Department of Defense breaks down into configuration identification, configuration control, configuration status accounting, and configuration auditing. Configuration identification occurs when we specify a product or component sufficiently that can be distinguished from other parts and components; we also usually use a well-specified nomenclature to avoid confusion. Configuration control occurs when we can modify what we have identified in a rational way (change of part number, change of nomenclature, change of drawings) such that we always know what we have. With hardware, configuration identification and control will also include labeling the product to avoid improper installation or ignorant deployment. … Continue reading

Transition Prototype to Production

by Kim H Pries

When we are engaged in prototype development during the early to late middle phases of our new product delivery process, we usually purchase components through maintenance, repairs, and operation (MRO) purchasing. This type of purchasing is managed on an as-needed basis, and often, is not automated. We purchase the parts we need in relatively small quantities because we are not yet in production. At this point in our process, this approach is reasonable and effective. The part cost is high but we are not at risk of having any parts we need to throw away.

As we move through the process, however, we reach a point where we begin to transition from prototypes to sellable products. For these products, we most commonly use manufacturing resource planning (MRP) purchasing, which is nearly always automated. As developers, we have seen huge discontinuities in delivery when shifting from MRO to MRP purchasing. MRP purchasing has some different characteristics:

• … Continue reading

Prototype Parts and Product Development Lifecycle

by Jon M Quigley

A few recent experiences have led me to believe many do not know the reason for prototype parts. Consider organizations that employ an iterative process for developing products. The automotive world typically uses this sort of product development method. In iterative product development, we build increments of the product learning from each increment to improve the subsequent increment culminating ultimately the increment that will make it to production. We do this to reduce risk and to ensure we do not spend BIG money for engineering work when we are missing some key information about the potential product.

Let us review the following all too frequently occurring story. An organization has an iterative product development process in place. In this example, the defined process has four levels of prototype parts, with each level having specific objectives to be achieved and a definition of the part’s level of sophistication. We have a brief list as an example of … Continue reading

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