Mechanical design tool
Along with the ever-increasing range of products and design requirements, high design quality must also be attained within a short development period. When products were developed in the conventional development process, trouble frequently occurred and design changes were requested at a late stage of development. There was also variation in design quality due to the uneven skill levels of designers.
To solve these problems, Fuji Xerox standardized the design procedure of highly experienced designers and introduced a mechanical design tool that efficiently utilizes accumulated internal standards, know-how, tools, and databases based on the standardized procedure. The mechanical design tool uses Design Structure Matrix (DSMNote1) as a method of visualizing the interactions between processes. DSM is specifically a method of reducing setbacks for product development as much as possible, by predicting any repetition of a process and rework.
When processes are organized using DSM as shown in Fig.1, 'X' below the diagonal line denotes the flow of information from an earlier process to later processes. Conversely, 'X' above the diagonal line denotes the "return" of information from later processes to an earlier one. And the number of processes that the information must pass through again is used to measure the scale of "return." For example, in the case of DSM shown in Fig. 1, the size of the square with 'X' at the upper-right corner indicates the scale of "return" of the information.
In this way, we used DSM to visualize the design procedure of experienced designers. We then changed the order of processes to prevent or reduce rework as much as possible, and streamlined the design procedure by reviewing the flow of information (steps in each process). The streamlined and well-organized design procedure is then regarded as our standard design procedure.
The mechanical design tool provides designers with the design/technical information that they need in each process of the standardized design procedure. The information includes standards, know-how, recurrence prevention lists, and relevant drawings. As the design procedure is standardized, variation in the quality of design among designers is reduced.
Moreover, the specific design/technical information to be referenced in each process is specified. As a result, we can attain high design quality within a short development period. In addition, design outputs and information generated throughout the design processes (e.g. information, comments, design memos input by engineers) are stored in the design database as the basis of designNote2 via this mechanical design tool.
Even when multiple designers work on the design of the same item, they can thus share design information. Specifically, they can immediately grasp the design process and changes by referring to design histories. In addition, the information of previous design processes and results can be utilized for the development of successor products.
- Note1 Design Structure Matrix (DSM) is a method developed by Don Steward (professor emeritus at California State University) when he was working at General Electronics. Thereafter, Steven D. Eppinger, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been researching applications of DSM in the field of product development.
- Note2 The basis of design is evidence for design quality. Specifically, it includes past performance data (lists related to trial production, quality checks, and recurrence prevention), design calculation results, analysis results, tolerance calculation results, experiment data, production requirements, supplier requirements, design/technical standards and guides, and other pertinent information.