You have probably heard a lot about Lean Manufacturing systems like the Toyota Production System and how it can transform a manufacturing plant by eliminating waste, but you may not know that the principals of the Toyota Production System can also apply to the design process.
One of the first steps in the Toyota Production System is to define what adds value for the customer. During the design we try to completely define what the customer wants. What problems are they trying to solve? What needs are they looking for the machine or product to fulfil? By fully defining the scope of the project, you will end up with a set of expectations that are agreed upon so you know what to design and the customer knows what they can expect to receive. This will help eliminate the “Takes What It Takes” (TWIT) attitude that can lead to overages on time and materials.
The next step is to design for manufacturing. Here at Setpoint, we are always looking for ways to make our machines better, faster, stronger, and less expensive both for us and for our customers. We do this by trying to eliminate complicated parts and assemblies, incorporating features like Poke-Yokes (error proofing) and Single Minute Exchange of Dies tooling, and learning from the best practices from past projects.
One of the final steps in the design process is the Post Project Review. This meeting brings together all of the parties involved with the project to reflect upon the things that went right and the things that didn’t go exactly to plan. It includes the design team, project management, purchasing/receiving, electrical and mechanical assembly, the programmers, accounting, and the CEO. These meetings help us to capture all of the “lessons learned” from the project and use that knowledge on the next projects. Reflecting on past projects is a core value of the Toyota Production System and allows Setpoint to build on our successes and prevent us from repeating our mistakes.
At the heart of it, the Toyota Production System is a method to speed up processes, reduce waste, and improve quality. Applying these principles to the design process, allows you to improve quality, become more efficient and provide exactly what the customer is looking for. Happy Designing!