Design for manufacturability, or DFM, is the process connecting engineering and production into one, seamless discipline, to bring better products to market faster, adding greater value to customers.
Asif Moghal, Senior Industry Manager at Autodesk, explains why embracing design and manufacturing as a single discipline could create better opportunities for companies and the people they employ.
“Discreet CAD and CAM technologies offer point solutions with some degree of convergence, but if we want to enable SMEs to take the lead in this digital era then there needs to be a far more integrated approach.”
“If you can seamlessly connect how a product is designed, made and then used, you can accelerate the production cycle and create better products.”
What are better products?
“It’s a broad definition, but it ranges from faster and stronger, to smarter, more connected, personalised and enhanced with software, electronics or services.”
“Strengthening the UK’s manufacturing sector requires that it is prepared for the future, and the future points clearly towards a streamlined, single design and manufacturing process”
“Technology is one enabler of this approach. Education must be the other. The problem is that we still teach design and manufacturing in a disjointed way.”
What needs to happen is for designers to consider manufacturing implications much earlier in the process, and make smarter, data-driven decisions where everything is digital, based on their customers’ requirements.
“Embracing a single discipline approach will enable engineers to come up with more innovative alternatives, which can then be produced using a variety of methods.”
A New Agile Manufacturing Era
The Government Office for Science reported back in 2013 that successful firms will embrace constant adaptability to exploit changes in technology as manufacturing processes accelerate. Their conclusion was that manufacturing in 2050 would look very different from today, being virtually unrecognisable.
An integrated approach to design and manufacturing could give SMEs the opportunity to rapidly create smart products that bring the needs of the customer into a more prominent position at the design and manufacturing end of the product lifecycle.
“What runs through this is a connecting digital thread, which captures relevant data at every stage of the product’s journey, from design and manufacturing to eventual use by the consumer.”
At the same time, this process will provide insights for creating new opportunities, leading to new jobs, which could replace traditionally mundane production tasks that exist today. This then drives creativity and innovation further, while being far more rewarding for the individual worker.
“Innovation is its own reward in this respect. It therefore offers long-term benefits for manufacturers and the people they employ.”
The Strategy behind Seamless Design and Manufacturing
Expanding the capabilities of DFM exponentially, and ultimately integrating design and manufacturing into a single discipline are key aspects of meeting the challenges of digitalisation, embracing change and thereby boosting the UK economy.
“These things are not beyond SMEs’ capabilities or their budgets. It can involve incremental gains but still have a significant, cumulative impact. The answer lies in raising the awareness of SMEs of their own capabilities and potential for taking on new ways of doing things.”
“Technology offers manufacturers the chance to gain a competitive advantage, because we are starting to see real opportunities for improvement through exploring and applying new methods,” Asif concludes.
The Future of British Manufacturing Initiative (FoBMi) is encouraging SME owners and managers to self-assess their current capabilities. To get your personalised report, take your online readiness assessment, here.