Featured Workshops

Design to Cost Consulting

Meeting customer affordability requirements is critical to a successful product. Since typically 80% of product costs are committed based a decisions during concept development and design, a design-to-cost (DTC) orientation in key to a successful product. The concepts of design to cost that form the basis for our consulting process are described in a paper titled, Achieving Design-to-Cost Objectives. DRM Associates, a leading consulting organization specializing in product development, can help with the following eight-step approach:

  1. Initiation of a DTC program begins with management understanding and commitment. This may require DTC management training which we provide. These objectives must be communicated to the rest of the organization. Again, our DTC training can provide an understanding of the concepts and essential elements of a DTC approach. We can help in establishing metrics and determining baseline performance.
  2. A Target Costing and Design-to-Cost process needs to be defined and established. We can review the current development process and define the changes and additional activities to establish a Target Costing Process. We can also help define roles and responsibilities to support DTC. We can then develop and conduct training to deploy this process to the organization.
  3. Target costs must be established based on analyzing market niches, assessing customer affordability requirements, understanding cost drivers, considering trade-offs in costs vs. other requirements, determining elasticity of demand, and analyzing volume-cost relationships. We can help organize the data gathering, guide this analysis, and facilitate the use of tools such as quality function deployment to support requirement trades.
  4. Product cost models and/or cost tables are required to evaluate concept and design alternatives and support decision-making. Parametric cost models are needed in the early stages of a development program to develop a proposal or establish a business case, to support analysis of concept alternatives, and perform trade studies. More detailed cost models based on analogy or industrial engineering build-up are needed in the later stages to evaluate product and process design alternatives. We can help in selecting, building, validating and establishing these cost models and define a process for their use.
  5. Design for manufacturability is one of the primary methods to reduce costs. We can provide design for manufacturability training, help establish DFM guidelines, define a process for the application of DFM, and facilitate the use of these practices on a development project.
  6. Supplier involvement in a DTC program is critical since typically 50-70% of product costs are materials. We can work with the materials organization to help structure a supplier involvement program based on DTC, provide DTC training to suppliers, work with key suppliers to establish a DTC program, and develop pricing programs.
  7. Indirect costs are the second most significant cost element. We can assist with business process reengineering of indirect activities, eliminate non-value-added activities, and establisah an activity-based costing system to better support decision-making.
  8. Monitoring of DTC results is key to a successful program. We can help establish DTC tracking systems, develop design review guidelines, formalize an overall development process oriented to DTC, and insure appropriate management focus to a DTC program.
The DRM Associates DTC Capabilities Presentation provides further information on our DTC capabilities, consulting approach, and DTC process and tools. For further information, contact Kenneth Crow at DRM Associates Phone +1 310-377-5569 Email: k.crow@npd-solutions

Design for Serviceability & Maintainability

There are two fundamental ways to assure a longer operating life for products, systems and equipment: enhance reliability to minimize the need to service or maintain equipment or make it easy and inexpensive to diagnose and service the item. We provide consulting and customized training to help organization’s achieve these objectives.  We have worked across many industries to apply the principles of design for serviceability (DFS) or design for maintainability including purely electronic system, purely mechanical systems, and electro-mechanical systems for business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and government markets. There are several types of assistance that we can provide.

Process Improvement to Address Design for Serviceability

We can conduct a review of the current development process to identify opportunities to improve how serviceability is addressed during development.  This can result in recommendations on actions to take to better address serviceability during development such as:
  • How to better integrate service and support function or service engineering functions into the development process.
  • Development of an appropriate service strategy.
  • Defining requirements related to availability, serviceability/maintainability and reliability.
  • Process steps at appropriate points to collaborate and provide feedback to enhance reliability, diagnosibility, and serviceability.
  • Recommended development process deliverables related to serviceability/maintainability.
  • Methods to analyze the reliability, diagnosibility and serviceability of product designs.
  • Tools to identify issues such as failure reporting and corrective action system (FRACAS)
  • Incorporating reliability and serviceability considerations in design reviews.
  • Metrics to monitor and identify areas to improve related to serviceability/maintainability.
  • The organization and process of the service and support functions once a product is fielded.
We can then work with the organization to implement the needed process improvements to address DFS.  This can included updating the product development process (e.g., procedures and process flows), defining required participation and corresponding roles and responsibilities in product development teams, and defining systems, methods and templates to support this enhanced development approach.

Design for Serviceability/Maintainability Training

We can conduct a hands-on Design for Serviceability/Maintainability Workshop.  The workshop is customized to the nature of your products and business environment.  The workshop includes many examples to illustrate serviceability issues, exercises to assess serviceability of a product design, as well as a major exercise to analyze the serviceability of your products.  See the following for a detailed workshop description and outline.

Design for Serviceability/Maintainability Assessment

We can facilitate a product team with conducting an assessment of their product design for serviceability.  We provide a methodology for assessing the serviceability of one of more key service procedures and the underlying product design.  This methodology and supporting tools are made available for future use within your organization.  As part of the assessment we then facilitate brainstorming ways to improve the serviceability of the design, either through enhancing reliability.  We can either document the findings and recommendations coming from this assessment or guide the project team in doing so. To learn more about our capabilities and experience, see our presentation on DRM Associates Capabilities: Design for Serviceability. For further information, contact Kenneth Crow at DRM Associates Phone +1 310-377-5569 Email: k.crow@npd-solutions

Design for Manufacturability/Assembly

Developing a producible product is critical to achieving low costs and high quality. Design for manufacturability (DFM) or design for manufacturability/assembly (DFM/A) must be addressed early in the product development cycle during the concept phase to be truly successful and must continue to be addressed until production begins. DRM Associates, a leading consulting organization specializing in product development, can help with the following nine-step approach:

  1. Initiation of a DFM program begins with management understanding and commitment. This may require DFM a management briefing which we provide. These objectives must be communicated to the rest of the organization. Again, our DFM training can provide an understanding of the concepts and essential elements of a DFM approach. We can help in establishing metrics and determining baseline performance.
  2. DFM process steps must be incorporated into the product development process. We can help develop an updated development process that includes best practices-based approaches to DFM/A and develop supporting work instructions and procedures. We can define roles and responsibilities and help estimate needed resources to support a more comprehensive DFM/A approach.
  3. DFM guidelines must be established based on types of products, parts and materials; types of processes, process capabilities, process cycle times and costs, and tooling costs. We can help organize the needed data gathering, guide this analysis, structure the organization of guidelines, assist with their development, and orchestrate their deployment. Top-level guidelines are described in our DFM/A Guidelines listing. More detailed guidelines need to be developed considering the nature of the product and the company's and suppliers' process capabilities. An example of sheetmetal guidelines is shown. We offer a set of DFM/A guidelines that can be licensed as a starting point for an organization to develop it's own internal set of guidelines.
  4. DFM software tools are useful to evaluate concept and design alternatives and support decision-making. We can help in selecting these tools, adapting them to your cost structure and process capabilities, and defining a process for their use. We can also provide a low-cost design for assembly (DFA) assessment methodoloy and software with our Product Development Toolkit.
  5. DFM training can be provided to develop an understanding of DFM principles, practices, tools and methodology. Our DFM Workshop is described in further detail.
  6. Design for manufacturability guidance can be provided to a product team as it works to develop its concept and design. We can facilitate the application of DFM; provide specific DFM feedback; and facilitate consideration of design, material and process alternatives. We can help apply Pareto analysis to determine where there is the highest payoff from improving manufacturability.
  7. Supplier involvement in a DFM program is critical since typically 50-70% of product costs are materials. We can work with the materials organization to help structure a supplier involvement program based on DFM, provide DFM training to suppliers, and work with key suppliers to establish a DFM program.
  8. Cost data needs to be developed since cost is a common denominator to measure producibility results across an overall product and across disparate processes. We can help select, implement, and develop product cost models; provide training; organize cost studies; and help validate cost projections.
  9. Monitoring of DFM results is key to a successful program. We can help establish DFM metrics, develop design review guidelines, formalize an overall development process oriented to DFM, and insure appropriate management focus on a DFM program.

Target Costing & Design to Cost

Meeting customer affordability requirements is critical to a successful product. Since typically 80% of product costs are committed based a decisions during concept development and design, a design-to-cost (DTC) orientation in key to a successful product. The concepts of design to cost that form the basis for our consulting process are described in a paper titled, Achieving Design-to-Cost Objectives. DRM Associates, a leading consulting organization specializing in product development, can help with the following eight-step approach:

  1. Initiation of a DTC program begins with management understanding and commitment. This may require DTC management training which we provide. These objectives must be communicated to the rest of the organization. Again, our DTC training can provide an understanding of the concepts and essential elements of a DTC approach. We can help in establishing metrics and determining baseline performance.
  2. A Target Costing and Design-to-Cost process needs to be defined and established. We can review the current development process and define the changes and additional activities to establish a Target Costing Process. We can also help define roles and responsibilities to support DTC. We can then develop and conduct training to deploy this process to the organization.
  3. Target costs must be established based on analyzing market niches, assessing customer affordability requirements, understanding cost drivers, considering trade-offs in costs vs. other requirements, determining elasticity of demand, and analyzing volume-cost relationships. We can help organize the data gathering, guide this analysis, and facilitate the use of tools such as quality function deployment to support requirement trades.
  4. Product cost models and/or cost tables are required to evaluate concept and design alternatives and support decision-making. Parametric cost models are needed in the early stages of a development program to develop a proposal or establish a business case, to support analysis of concept alternatives, and perform trade studies. More detailed cost models based on analogy or industrial engineering build-up are needed in the later stages to evaluate product and process design alternatives. We can help in selecting, building, validating and establishing these cost models and define a process for their use.
  5. Design for manufacturability is one of the primary methods to reduce costs. We can provide design for manufacturability training, help establish DFM guidelines, define a process for the application of DFM, and facilitate the use of these practices on a development project.
  6. Supplier involvement in a DTC program is critical since typically 50-70% of product costs are materials. We can work with the materials organization to help structure a supplier involvement program based on DTC, provide DTC training to suppliers, work with key suppliers to establish a DTC program, and develop pricing programs.
  7. Indirect costs are the second most significant cost element. We can assist with business process reengineering of indirect activities, eliminate non-value-added activities, and establsih an activity-based costing system to better support decision-making.
  8. Monitoring of DTC results is key to a successful program. We can help establish DTC tracking systems, develop design review guidelines, formalize an overall development process oriented to DTC, and insure appropriate management focus to a DTC program.
The DRM Associates DTC Capabilities Presentation provides further information on our DTC capabilities, consulting approach, and DTC process and tools. For further information, contact Kenneth Crow at DRM Associates Phone +1 310-377-5569 Email: k.crow@npd-solutions

Voice of the Customer and Requirements Definition

Successful products are ones that meet customer needs, are innovative and that offer value. Sounds simple! How do you make that happen? DRM Associates, a leading consulting organization specializing in product development, can help with the following six-step approach:

  1. Product strategy must be established that provides a framework for properly selecting markets and product ideas. Customers and potential customers are then identified. We would work with the executive team to assess markets, competition, competitive strengths, and product lines. We would map company position against competitors in various dimensions to provide insights and help develop strategy.
  2. Portfolio management & product screening process evaluates product concepts and marketplace needs against the product strategy objectives, profitability, risk, etc. We would help establish a portfolio management process, evaluation criteria, and a feasibility assessment process. For product ideas that meet screening criteria, we would help organize and conduct preliminary feasibility studies.
  3. Team & project organization are needed to initiate a project. We can help with this and provide team-building training as required.
  4. Customer needs data collection uses a variety of methods to gather the "voice of the customer". Depending upon the nature of the product and the markets, these methods include: focus groups, customer meetings, surveys and market research, and product support feedback systems. We would help establish these systems and processes. We would help identify required data and areas of investigation and would develop interview or discussion guides as required. We would participate in and facilitate meetings and focus groups as required.
  5. Quality function deployment (QFD) training would be provided if development personnel lacked an understanding of this useful methodology. We believe QFD is an important tool to develop an understanding of customer needs among the product development team members and deploy the "voice of the customer" in a structured manner throughout the development process (see Customer Focused Development with QFD). We would conduct two- or three-day workshop which provides hands-on training using a series of exercises to develop practical skills in applying QFD.
  6. Product requirements facilitation is then provided to help guide development personnel through the process of product planning and requirements definition using traditional methods or QFD. Depending on the complexity of the product and the amount of data that was available, we would facilitate an initial QFD planning session that is typically several days in length. If data was lacking, we would assign tasks to obtain the needed information and schedule subsequent meetings as required. The QFD facilitation would be divided into planning phases that would occur over the course of the development cycle: 1.) product and subsystem planning and concept selection; 2.) assembly and part deployment; 3.) process planning; and 4.) process control and quality control planning.
We can assist with any one of these five steps to help your organization bring a customer focus into the product development process, improve customer value, better integrate the development process, and improve team communication and understanding.