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Understanding the design process in new factory installations

The key to achieving an efficient production plant lies in its design. Whether you’re creating a brand new facility or simply assessing your current installations to make improvements, getting the design spot-on is essential to the production output.

In this article, we’re looking at manufacturing design in more depth – asking questions about the DFM process, fundamental principles and ongoing benefits to your business.

Introduction to Design for Manufacturing (DFM)

Put simply, DFM is a process applied to optimise manufacturing by looking closely at the design and parts used in a product’s manufacture. By using this approach, businesses can simplify production and achieve manufacturing efficiency.

The design piece is critical to achieving efficiency and increasing the speed and production output rates. Decisions made early on can have a huge impact on a product's final cost.

A formal DFM process looks at three key areas in depth:

The Methods – the process of building a product
The Machinery – the tools used to build a product
The Materials – the components put together to form the product

By placing each of the three Ms under the microscope, manufacturers can identify and quantify any inefficiencies in their production process. This enables you to eliminate or reduce issues with the manufacturing process before implementation.

For the process to work effectively, DFM must involve all stakeholders –the manufacturer, product specialist, designer, engineering team and materials suppliers. This cross-functional approach allows all parties to challenge the design and identify potential issues before implementation.

DFM is also an opportunity to check for any excess waste. By recognising where you might expect waste during production, certainly in terms of your materials, you can remove risk entirely or at least reduce it to drive down your costs.

Example of a zonal factory set up

The benefits of DFM are clear

Apply the DFM process before completing any new factory installation, and your production line can benefit from:

• A faster product development process (including any prototypes)

• A quicker time from the production line to the market

• Reduced downtime – remove issues, mistakes or faults quickly

• A higher-quality end product built using greater materials

How long does DFM take to complete?

Like any process, it depends on the complexity. Highly technical products involving multiple components, high volumes of machinery and several stages of production may take longer to assess in detail.

Steps to performing DFM include:

• Understanding the design intent – its objective and purpose
• Assessing the materials and their costs
• Reviewing the machining time
• Reviewing the tolerance and capability of the proposed methods
• Reviewing the cost of each single part
• Assessing the assembly line and order
• Assessing the number of tools required to build
• Review the production line safety
• Review the end product safety

On average, most DFM projects take about two weeks to complete – which is a relatively small timeframe given the significant impact on productivity and profitability.

Manufacturing Process Illustration for confectionery

Can DFM apply to an existing installation?

The DFM process is equally critical post-installation to look for production inefficiency and reduce manufacturing costs. Issues with machinery and electrical installations can put a huge strain on your production output.

By applying a DFM process to an established product, any issues in the methods, machinery and materials can be picked up and resolved before major problems occur.

Think of it as a health check for your production plant to help you make key production changes and increase efficiency.

At AES, we offer a free site survey to assess your production process. In particular, our team looks to uncover inefficiencies and opportunities to automate processes and streamline production.

Working with AES

AES can assist with the machinery aspect of your DFM process. As well as ensuring machinery is fit for purpose, as efficient as possible and correctly installed, we can design bespoke automation systems to further improve efficiency and minimise downtime.

We’ll assess your production process to fully understand which areas can benefit most from control and automation enhancements. In existing installations this will often centre around those processes where the equipment is unreliable or keeps breaking down, disrupting the process and having a considerable impact on production outputs.

AES personnel are also accredited to work in ATEX areas and with CompEx certified machinery.

If you’d like to learn more about how AES can keep your machinery safe and efficient, get in touch with our expert team.

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