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


If you have spent any time in the automotive industry you have probably spent time working within a system called the 5S. Continue reading

Automation and Paradigm Shift

The Manufacturing Innovation Network Breakfast went great last week.  Nearly all of the seats were full, and there was a plentiful of discussion afterward.   The discussion was about the role of automation in the not so distant future.  We talked about how automation and drones are now even working in the fields.

Robots came about due to advanced manufacturing techniques and now or very soon, robots will be heavily in the employ of advanced manufacturing.  The consequences of this will likely be the need for fewer people for the manual labor aspects of manufacturing.  However, that does not mean that people are out of the equation. To be successful, those that remain must have a variety of skills. We will discuss more on the people aspect later.  The real discussion point is the notion that we can use our present experience to infer how this will impact our organization.  So far, organizations have automated portions of their manufacturing.  The portion … 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.

Material Handling Via Robotics Company

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Root Cause and Quality and Process Improvement

Survival of the fittest is not just a biological concern.  Our business must constantly adapt to external stimuli and find better, quicker ways of performing our work.  One way to accomplish this growth is through actions sometimes referred to as project post mortem, or an after action report.  We have a plethora of tools of which we can avail to understand what happened, and why.  We will briefly discuss a couple of those techniques below.

8 Discipline Problem Solving A3 Problem Solving

Like many things, the origins for this form of problem solving can be found in the United States Department of Defense standards, specifically, “MIL-STD 1520 Corrective Action and Disposition System for Nonconforming Material”.  The purpose of the standard is to:

Reduce waste Eliminate recurring problems Improve efficiency (manufacturing but there are other areas as well) Promote a culture of quality and productivity improvements The 8 Discipline

All of the Root Cause and Process Improvement activities have a … Continue reading

Hits Production

I have been brought back to this topic many times over the past few months. Hits production is sort of like “hitting the fan.”  We release our product after development and then put our fingers in our ears hoping to not hear the metaphoric explosion at the plant. It is no wonder.  We have the culmination of all of our development activities as well as the risks associated with the transition from prototype part volume to sometimes significant product volumes – with the associated time demands.  We have manufacturing personnel that may have all too recently learned of the product change and any requisite process changes required.  We have a situation fraught with uncertainty.

The things we can do to improve this situation are:

attention to details in the manufacturing area as in the development area,  for example use of Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis (PFMEA) manufacturing personnel in the development team early and use the objective feedback prototype part … 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

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