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Thread: Manufacturing vs. Design Engineering

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
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    Jan 2018
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    Manufacturing vs. Design Engineering

    I have an 8 year background in manufacturing for the automotive industry (following TS-16949 stds., APQP, and submitting AIAG PPAPs). Recently I changed companies to one that serves the aerospace military and commerical markets with a group of young design engineers who spend a lot of time at sales trade shows, lunches, and conventions.

    I am running into what I believe is a strange situtation but I would like others to weigh as a sanity check

    1) Essentially my company at the direction of the Product Realization Director (Design Engineering Manager in any other company) has split all engineering responsibilities between Production and Prototype. The design engineering group is 95% focused on new products and refuses to work on anything Production related unless it's a major situation (recalls or stop production sort of deals). The onus is on manufacturing engineering for all technical and quality issues, such as drawing updates, design changes, supplier quality issues, cosmetic concerns, and failure analysis. Prior to production Mfg. Engineering is responsible for process documentation and production fixtures/tooling.

    2a) The NPI process consists of 6 Stages from New Idea to Full Production. The first 3 stages are 100% business and design engineering focused. In most cases Production and Manufacturing are not consulted until after Management approves the Critical Design Review essentially locking the design and after production tools/molds have been already purchased. There are no formal deliverables at this CDR and it's usually a bunch of slides with CAD images. When asked where the data was Ive been told the engineers keep notebooks and have thoroughly vetted the product.

    2b) Starting at Stage 4 the burden shifts to Manufacturing to develop a process to build the product and there are usually issues because the design engineers use 3D printed parts or only have to build 1 assembly or do not run any production tests. Any push back to move mfg. concerns up a stage or two has been received as trying to slow the process down or "one up" the design engineers. Egos are also a big problem. Feedback such as incorporating DFM and Lean into the design are ignored.

    3) Drawings. The design group either lacks the understanding or drive to add dimensions or test requirements to drawings. Most assembly drawings are nothing more than pictures and BOMs. When asked why they claim the 50-100 product spec is the guide and adding anything to the drawing is redundant. However in production an operator or test tech doesn't have access or time to read that document. Therefore alot of design info is pushed into the work instructions, but this doesn't help purchased items. So in most cases mfg. engineering waits until it's in Production and adds the requirements and notes....and then parts routinely fail inspections because they were never checked before for those items.

    Is this the new normal or am I dealing with lazy/uninformed engineers? I started my career with the thought process of considering mfg. while doing the design, but any mention of something like APQP literally has coworkers telling me it costs too much and that people won't accept it...HELP.

  2. #2
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    I seen your forum post yesterday but choose to think before I speakÖ

    As a DFM/DFA and GD&T trainer, consultant, author and having been in more than 100 corporations all over the world as well as worked as a direct employee in a couple of environments identical to what you are experiencing. I very much understand your perspective. I could spend hours addressing each of your line item challenges in terms of cause, effect and solutions Ė but I donít have the time nor motive (I sell this stuff).

    So, letís talk about one of your key observations and just for the record I believe you have diagnosed your organizations inefficiency issues accurately.

    Is this the new normal or am I dealing with lazy/uninformed engineers?
    I call your environment ďOver the Wall Design EngineeringĒ and itís not anything new. My career started back in the very early 1980ís and this over the wall approach was alive and well back then (more in some industries than others).

    I encounter many organizations that early in the design process donít collaborate well with manufacturing experts and/or in-the-know technicians and then fail to create manufacturing cost and process efficient designs. Culture, process, ignorance, remoteness to manufacturing and poor leadership are amongst some of the driving causes. I wonder how many potential customers I lost with the previous sentence?

    So, hereís my sales pitch -> Iíve been in engineering for more than 36 years, over twenty-one as a design engineer working mostly in aerospace and other very high technologies and then another 15 years full time (18 total) as an DFM/DFA and GD&T trainer, consultant.

    If you need moreĒ

    ASME ISO GD&T Training

    Design for Manufacturing and Assembly Training
    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

  3. #3
    Associate Engineer
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    7
    I am neither a design engineer nor a manufacturing engineer, but if communication between the groups is as bad as you depict, this is a very dysfunctional organization, doomed to failure, or at least prone to failure. Management has made a key mistake here, since they are apparently are not aware that they are not aware of how to undertake this business.

    It might not be your job to make them aware, as it could become very uncomfortable for them, and they might not like you much after that.
    On the other hand, if you are in the design group - do not skimp, become complacent about details, or leave out important information (dimensions, specifications, etc.) on any documentation that "gets pitched over the wall"...

    Your future success may well depend on how you survive in this "sink or sink" environment. You must overcome, and be the swimmer you already know you are.

    If the design group is not being intentionally lazy (due to some emotional response to real or perceived attitude from the manufacturing group), and are truly ignorant or lazy, you may interact with one or two of the the brighter ones, that have been there longer, and feel them out as to why things are the way they appear to be. They may have legitimate answers, but it would not seem so.

    It is your job to subtly implant quality ideas into a few more senior brains there, and make them believe, think, and absorb these ideas to implement as though the original thought came from them.

  4. #4
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    x2 Organizational challenges..

    Quote Originally Posted by jastewart View Post
    I am neither a design engineer nor a manufacturing engineer, but if communication between the groups is as bad as you depict, this is a very dysfunctional organization, doomed to failure, or at least prone to failure. Management has made a key mistake here, since they are apparently are not aware that they are not aware of how to undertake this business.

    It might not be your job to make them aware, as it could become very uncomfortable for them, and they might not like you much after that.
    On the other hand, if you are in the design group - do not skimp, become complacent about details, or leave out important information (dimensions, specifications, etc.) on any documentation that "gets pitched over the wall"...

    Your future success may well depend on how you survive in this "sink or sink" environment. You must overcome, and be the swimmer you already know you are.

    If the design group is not being intentionally lazy (due to some emotional response to real or perceived attitude from the manufacturing group), and are truly ignorant or lazy, you may interact with one or two of the the brighter ones, that have been there longer, and feel them out as to why things are the way they appear to be. They may have legitimate answers, but it would not seem so.

    It is your job to subtly implant quality ideas into a few more senior brains there, and make them believe, think, and absorb these ideas to implement as though the original thought came from them.
    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

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