Across the manufacturing sector, vast cost cutting opportunities and potential efficiency improvements can be found in the product development arena, but many of these opportunities are going untapped and undiscovered. What steps can business decision makers take to investigate processes and find ways to trim waste and cost? Even a small change can yield staggering results when it’s applied to thousands or millions of product units.
There are two excellent places to begin a production streamlining initiative: The in-depth life cycle analysis and the aggregate data base camp analysis. These two methods can help engineers and designers examine current product development approaches and find ways to make incremental adjustments. Once these adjustments are tested, reviewed and implemented, companies can reap the benefits of reduced cost and improved sustainability.
Cut Cost and Waste: The In Depth Life Cycle Analysis
As designers know, a product life cycle doesn’t begin on the factory floor; it begins as each of its raw materials and component parts are sourced, manufactured and assembled. A life cycle analysis can help manufactures determine that a product requires, for example, one pound of ABS plastic. But an in depth life cycle analysis can determine where the petroleum products and oil used to make the plastic were mined, how they were processed, and where and how they were transported. The same can apply to wood, steel, and other raw materials that result in a finished product ready for the marketplace. Trace these steps, calculate the waste and cost at each step, and make changes to your supply chain to trim energy use, lost time, and redundancy.
Cut Cost and Waste: The Aggregate Data Base Camp Analysis
Since the in depth life cycle analysis described above can require a degree of attention to detail that not all companies can afford to invest, the second method offers an abbreviated version. Instead of having analysts trace every step from the ground up, manufacturers can gather the same numbers (or estimates of the same numbers) by studying industry averages. Collected industry data may be widely available, and there are a number of software platforms that can support this analysis. These include Sustainable Minds, EcoTeam, and SustainabilityXpress from SolidWorks.
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