Sponsored By
Clare Goldsberry

June 13, 2016

2 Min Read
Placing greater emphasis on product design will ensure success

I sat in on several really good presentations on design at the recent SPE ANTEC conference in Indianapolis. In particular, I was impressed by “Eye Opening Impact of Simple Design Errors on Product Costs,” presented by Vikram Bhargava, former Director of Engineering for Motorola Inc. and a Six Sigma Black Belt, now a consultant. “The designer is like a quarterback in football,” he noted. “The designer controls the ultimate performance of her or his product.” There are “legitimate costs, avoidable costs and beyond avoidable” costs, Bhargava explained.

Image courtesy phasinphoto/freedigitalphotos.net.

If you wait until the mold is in production to review the design, “you’re probably going to impact others.” He used the General Motors ignition switch fiasco as an example, noting that it cost GM $4.1 billion in recalls to fix a part that would have cost 57 cents if caught at the outset. “Design errors lead to engineering changes and to the total cost of the product,” he said. “Adding variables reduces yield.”

Engineers will often let small design flaws go for the time being, believing that they will fix it later, but that rarely happens, said Bhargava. These delays are “opportunity costs,” which can be quite extensive. One cover of a handheld device that Bhargava was working on cost $600 million in lost opportunity. 

Bhargava introduced a new simulation software program that he has used and found helpful in preventing design errors. DFMPro developed by software company Geometric Americas Inc. with offices in Troy, MI; Scottsdale, AZ; the Netherlands and China. Geometric produces its DFMPro for Creo, Solidworks, NX and DFX, and for developing parts for injection molding, machining, casting and assembly. Using simulation software can help prevent costly design errors, and Bhargava highly recommends simulation prior to starting the mold build.

“There are value-added and non-value-added activities,” Bhargava concluded, noting that each engineering change order (ECO)—a non-value added activity—costs an average of $5,000.  “Your life can be miserable if it is your plastic part that is the cause of these non-value added activities.”

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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