Design-to-cost tool raises dividends for aerial platform maker JLG

JLG Industries is a global manufacturer of design-to-order forklifts and mobile aerial work platforms. No longer relying on complete vertical integration of its design/production process, the McConnellsburg, Pa.-based company sources parts from multiple suppliers for assembly of orders to customer requirements.
By Staff February 1, 2008
“A part will cost least when it’s most closely aligned with the parts supplier’s production process.”

—Wayne MacDonald,
senior VP of engineering, JLG Industries

JLG Industries is a global manufacturer of design-to-order forklifts and mobile aerial work platforms. No longer relying on complete vertical integration of its design/production process, the McConnellsburg, Pa.-based company sources parts from multiple suppliers for assembly of orders to customer requirements.

Until recently, when initial designs proved too costly, lengthy back-and-forth iterations with part suppliers were issued to create new part designs and secure supplier quotes that met constraints. That process was eliminated when JLG deployed a design-based enterprise cost management system from aPriori .

“We wanted to avoid a process that was taking much longer than it did when design and manufacturing were in the same building,” says Wayne MacDonald, JLG’s senior VP of engineering. “When we weren’t happy with a price quote, we’d either have to redesign parts and get new quotes from our supplier, or find a new supplier. It took weeks. By that time the design engineer had moved on and was involved in something else. Now with the aPriori tool, when we’re finished with a design, we’re finished.”

The aPriori Enterprise Cost Management software determines costs for manufactured parts directly from a CAD model, factoring in material and production costs based on virtual production environment (VPE) models created and stored within the system.

“A part will cost least when it’s most closely aligned with the parts supplier’s production process,” says MacDonald. “By optimizing design to be in sync with the process, we can achieve the lowest cost.”

JLG also uses the software to review and improve the design for parts that are already in production.

“Better yet is evaluating current part prices and uncovering suppliers’ prices that aren’t in line with what they should be,” MacDonald says. “It provides you with the information you need to get a better price.”

JLG first implemented the aPriori Enterprise Cost Management system in late 2006. In late 2007, it upgraded to newly released aPriori V5.5 that with more functionality—most significantly, support for sand casting of designed parts. The new version supports a variety of sand casting mold methods and discrete subprocesses, including melting, core making, pouring, cooling/solidification, shake-out, cleaning, finishing, and in-line inspection.

“In small volumes, we tend to use parts that can be fabricated, but as volume grows, casting becomes more economical,” says MacDonald. “Support for sand casting is a big enhancement for us.”

JLG is benefiting from aPriori’s system via an accelerated redesign process, and better price quotes from suppliers for existing parts that effectively reduce cost of goods sold. Consequently, meeting customer requirements and profits are both on the upswing.