Cut cycle times: How Lean can impact product development

A few pioneering companies have applied Lean to product development processes. The results are impressive, including product development cycle times routinely being slashed by 60 percent to 70 percent, and errors being caught at the concept stage—when they are least expensive to correct—rather than at the manufacturing stage.

10/17/2007


Because virtually everyone today practices Lean manufacturing, its power as a competitive advantage is waning. However, the potential to apply lean principles to product development has barely been scratched, despite the availability of powerful product life-cycle management (PLM) solutions that can eliminate the repetition, redundancy, error, and other forms of waste common to the field.

Leaders in lean
A few pioneering companies have appliedge.
PLM addresses all seven of the most common sources of waste:







These forms of waste are common and costly in product development as well, although they can be boiled down to four much simpler categories, which include waste common in creating, storing, locating, and reusing data. These potential forms of product development waste are on the rise due to the challenge of managing dynamic, evoloving
PLM addresses these challenges by enabling business, engineering, and manufacturing functions to have visibility into each other’s decisions, and by capturing corporate knowledge and making it widely available. This ensures, for example, that engineers know the relative costs of similar purchased parts as they make their design decisions, and that manufacturing constraints are taken into consideration in product design. Capturing corporate design standards as templates and rules, meanwhile, allows them to be automatically applied to each design, ensuring consistency and quality.

Making lean work with outsourcing and offshoring
Communication and collaboration are among the biggest challenges to implementing lean product development, and they are increasingly difficult in the era of outsourcing andand collaboration that it not only helps outsourced/offshored companies operate in a lean manner—they also can narrow or eliminate the wage gap between suppliers in developing economies that don’t practice PLM.
Offshoring, however,
Efficiency gains lead to permanent cost reductions and increased revenue, but offshoring can only temporarily reduce costs. While efficiency gains reduce product development cycle times, improve time-to-market, and increase quality, offshoring often has the opposite effect because it requires such a concerted effort to achieve desired results. Following the same processes, enduring the same product development costs, and merely reducing unit costs does not constitute lean. Removing the waste, improving the processes, and eliminating the costs are lean measures.
PLM addresses all three elements of lean:



Companies ranging from Boeing to the Royal Canadian Mint, and from QubicaAMF (bowling equipment) to A-dec (dental equipment and cabinetry) are achieving lean product development benefits usingcesses.
Jeff Covert is VP of solutions with Dassault Systemes , a PLM software vendor





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