Getting a product quickly from concept to a customer can be accomplished without cutting corners. Using a continuous improvement approach towards documenting everything going on within your project will streamline the steps required to take your product from the drawing board to the production line. Doing so will be particularly important when looking at custom manufacturing solutions, and will be instrumental in selecting a manufacturing partner that checks all of the requirements you are seeking.
Step 1: Build Improvement Cycles Using Kaizen
This Japanese term has been applied to manufacturing for several decades and is commonly referred to as The Toyota Way. The approach stresses the importance of small changes that gradually steer a project and keep it on course by standardizing processes. When properly used, it ideally creates a culture of innovation and collaboration, while presenting proactive opportunities for the elimination of waste and project bottlenecks.
Forming the foundation of Kaizen is the PDCA cycle, or Plan, Do, Check, and Act:
- Plan by identifying goals and mapping a path to achieve them.
- Do check plan progress via careful implementation monitoring and make required changes quickly.
- Check the plan by constant evaluation of results so improvements can be identified and made.
- Act confidently using gathered data to make changes as dictated by the above steps.
The incremental improvements delivered via Kaizen will introduce a highly concise documentation process that will yield consistency and accountability. When applied to your project, you will be better equipped to manage manufacturing partner relationships, including the establishment of cross-team collaboration.
Step 2: Integrate Design Software Into Project Collaboration
Although it is very much understood that designers must talk to the project and testing engineers as well as other designers, doing so too often leads to delays. Design systems, including CAD-based software solutions, must be integrated into all core project design processes, and be able to provide rapid access to design specifications or testing results for heightened status and visibility. But it is worth remembering that this applies to your external partners as well as your internal teams.
The proper alignment of CAD resources and other design solutions to those being recommended by a manufacturing partner will shorten timelines and streamline project documentation. The integrated nature of using design tools in this way encourages collaboration to take place and cuts valuable hours off overall design and testing processes as a result. Performing these integration steps early in the project lets you quickly re-calibrate project tasks to promote fluid agility in the project timeline.
Step 3: Determine Prototype and Testing Methodology at the Start
Accurate testing of product designs must be clearly outlined even before your CAD designers get their hands on the specs. This places an appropriate design objective in front of them that removes many risk factors that can lead to a costly design overhaul. And, the documentation generated from this planning effort can be passed along easily to your manufacturing partner so they can make testing recommendations based on their own experiences.
Agile prototyping options, such as rapid prototyping, will shorten testing times and bring you closer to production at a faster rate. This prototyping feature will offer 3D-printing options that integrate into common CAD design tools or will support CNC machining options as well. And best of all, you can easily add rapid prototyping capabilities simply by choosing a manufacturing partner that offers them as a part of their engagement.
Step 4: Agile Manufacturing Means Fast and Lean Manufacturing
One of the most sought-after benefits of creating documented processes for all of the above steps is the consistency of results. With consistency comes automation options, and with automation, you gain agility. In manufacturing, especially for a new product, agility means that you limit the risk of overproduction by focusing on sales data to drive a product’s rate of production. What this also means is that you need a manufacturing partner that can support short-run and small-scale production runs.
Following this strategy keeps the project running as lean as possible, and opens up your project to different production technologies. Budget and cost planning are trimmed down, as a “just in time” production strategy removes the need to retain storage spaces for unsold items or large volumes of raw materials. The already established documentation and collaboration processes present both you and your partner with a high degree of visibility and the option to change course quickly.
Apply Logic to Custom Manufacturing Solutions
It is no secret that utilizing custom manufacturing solutions can get your product in front of an audience faster and with better quality. But in order to get there, you must first devise a concise plan on how to approach the way the product is designed, tested, and built. A local manufacturing partner will not only help you to produce your vision but will offer its own design and testing services that ensure only a product of the highest quality gets delivered to your waiting clientele.
PRL is a full-service product development company that specializes in all aspects of production, from design to product fabrication and prototyping. Our experts are here to guide you through the full product development process, including the ideation, design, creation, and management of your product idea.