Avoid expensive design failures while you can
Robust design is used to determine the impact of controllable and uncontrollable factors on your design. Optimal designs can be “fragile” in terms of variation of material properties and operating conditions, however, robust design accounts for the variation to avoid cliffs of optimal performance. This means that you will be able to quantify the risk of design failure, avoid nasty surprises later in process and improve your time-to-market dramatically.
No more cold sweats after handing over your design to QA
Here is a harsh reality: when a design leaves your R&D department 80% of its cumulative lifetime costs have already been determined. The costs are “built” into the design and can be hard, if not impossible, to reduce in QA and production. Even worse, once it leaves production it can be 1,000 times more expensive to change a design compared to changing it during the design process.
This makes it essential to minimize design failures in your design the first time around. The most reliable way to do that is to apply robust design analysis in your design process. That will decrease the probability of design failures in QA and production.
Robust design decisions equal reduced warranty costs
For many industrial design companies. warranty costs make up a substantial part of the accumulated product costs from cradle to grave. In some cases the warranty servicing constitute up to 10% of the costs. Like design failures, most warranty costs are “built” into the product during the design process and will therefore be a constant cost throughout its lifetime.
Robust design will lower your warranty costs by identifying designs prone to design failures – also in the long-term. Furthermore, robust design will give you qualified input about the length of your warranty periods. Heightening the design quality simply means lower and more predictable warranty costs.
Stable production means shorter design cycles
Time-to-market is essential to every company. It is the right product at the right time that wins the client – not necessarily the best product. But what is the most important measure when improving time-to-market? A stable, trouble-free production.
The best way to ensure this, is to iron out all design failures from the get-go. Robust design will therefore improve your time-to-market by providing an uncertainty quantification of your design variations. Without robust design you will not have a systematic method of improving your time-to-market.
Design for Six Sigma
Six Sigma has gradually become a staple in many manufacturing companies. Invented by Bill Smith at Motorola in 80s, Six Sigma is a set of tools and techniques for process improvement. In manufacturing, the sigma levels refer to the number of probable defects you will have once you start manufacturing a design. Reaching sigma level six means that only 3.4 of every million units produced statistically has a defect (compared to Five Sigma which has 233 defects per million.) Hence, Six Sigma is a proven way to meet customer needs and manufacturing capabilities.
But despite its general popularity Six Sigma methods are still underutilized in many R&D departments. Perhaps because it originated as a process optimization method, it still has ways to go in becoming mainstream in R&D. But as mentioned earlier, 80% of the cumulative lifetime costs of a product is determined by the design, which might be why experts believe that including the design process in your Six Sigma process is imperative if your organization wants to achieve more than a five sigma quality level.
Robust design and designing for Six Sigma are two sides of the same coin. By applying robust design in your design process, you enhance the probability of achieving a Six Sigma production line and thereby save costs and improve your time-to-market.