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Beyond DFX - Understanding Stakeholders and Knowledge Transfer in a Collaborative Environment
Published October 21, 2002 by Convergence Transportation Electronics Association in United States
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Relations between the end user and supply-chain of automotive products have been clarified by creating a chain of companies that are truly focused on their specific critical processes. The OEM has become focused on the integration of the platform, rather than the production of the components or even subsystems. While this allows each link to focus, it also highlights weaknesses in our ability to articulate, document and respect important characteristics of all stakeholders. The customer focuses on function, aesthetics, and cost. The OEM focuses on design cycle time, delivery, the FEW key product performance characteristics, and cost. The tiers below the OEM focus on minimizing cycle time in fulfillment (including test), achieving 100% internal and external yields, and containing operational costs to provide a reasonable ROA. Clearly, the supply-chain that best achieves their respective measures of the above gains a substantial competitive advantage.
Traditional DFX activities have been internally focused. In a collaborative environment, the understanding of critical customer requirements must go through several iterations and translations to define the FEW critical characteristics to a tier 1 or tier 2 supplier. Most efforts fail to accomplish this translation successfully and thus design documents specify dozens of equally weighted characteristics. The end result may be a short manufacturing cycle time, but test and inspection cycle times and yields are not consistent with the manufacturing cycle or the supply-chain needs. Coincidentally, the delivered product achieves much lower quality at significantly higher cost than what is possible. Delivery performance and/or inventories also suffer.
The resolution of these issues involving time (delivery), quality (reworked product is of lower quality), and cost mandates new disciplines beyond a focus on BOM costs (DFC), ease of assembly (DFM/DFA), ease of test (DFT), etc. Clear methods for understanding and communicating the FEW critical requirements of each down stream customer are proposed. Clear methods for understanding, communicating and respecting the knowledge of the tier 1 or 2 experts are also proposed. The goal is to have collaboration (communication, simple tools, and involvement) in the design cycle that are as clearly understood and well executed as the measures of success in the fulfillment cycle.
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