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DESIGN FOR ASSEMBLY (DFA) Jigar Talati New Product Development (NPD) is a complex and creative process, which

is inherently difficult to manage and improve. Having a great design is one thing, bringing that design effectively to market is another. The ability to deliver innovative products to the market ontime, at the right cost and quality is a good indicator of a companys NPD capability. The significance of NPD in the business value chain must not be underestimated, gone are the days where companies can simply compete on quality and cost. Effective NPD is a valuable source of competitive advantage. It is the point where a high proportion of the customer value added is realized and 60-80% of product quality and cost is locked into the product. Developing successful new products requires the ability to predict, early in the product development process, the life cycle impact of the design decisions. (Refer Fig. 1 Product Life Cycle).

Downstream life cycle issues include considerations of how the product will be made, shipped, installed, used, services and retired or recycled. Ignoring downstream issues (or producing poor estimates) leads to poor product designs that may cause unforeseen problems and excessive costs downstream. Sometimes, when problems are uncovered during design verification or testing, the problems can be corrected by redesign, but the cost of redesign at this stage can be prohibitive. Out of the search for an effective process to harness this diversity into a best outcome, there has evolved a tool of product design Design

for X (DFX) methodologies. The X in DFX represents any one of a variety of design consideration occurring throughout the product life cycle, such as manufacturing, assembly, variety, life cycle cost or environment. DFA Design for Assembly is the most common and popular DFX tools in association with DFM Design for Manufacture. The need of hour is that Designers need to see the big picture. The design decisions must be traced for their suitability and optimization. They need to understand the customers problems both Internal and External. In some sense, the basic objective of DFM is not new. Manufactures and craftspeople have always tried to design products that are inexpensive to manufacture. Before the industrial revolution, the salesperson, designer and craftsperson were often the same person. This person had a detailed understanding of the customers needs, how the design would meet the needs and how it would be made. DFM naturally occurred in that persons mind. However, as industries have grown in size and complexity, marketing, design and manufacturing departments have evolved into separate organizations, each with their own specialized knowledge. While this makes the streamlined creation of complex product possible, it has also increased the knowledge and communication barriers between these areas. Why to Design for Assembly? in the efforts of reducing product cost, efforts put during assembly, time and cost of assembly also comes under focus. DFA techniques lead to following benefits: Estimation of difficulty of assembly Implication of cost incurred due to an additional part in assembly apart from its procurement cost Integrate design and manufacturing Benchmark existing products in terms of their Design Efficiency Continuous focus on Design reviews for improvement The application of Design for Assembly - DFA to new products not only realized benefits for the automated assembly processes but to manual assembly and assembly processes in general. The techniques developed by various people including Lucas (1980, USA) for checking the design efficiency for complying with DFA principles proceed with following major steps:

1. Functional Analysis The analysis starts with the basic question of Do we need a part? In this analysis, the components of the product are reviewed only for their function. The components are divided into two groups. Parts that belong to Group A are those that are deemed to be essential to the product's function; Group B parts are those that are not essential to the product's function. Group B functions include fastening, locating, etc. The functional efficiency of the design can be calculated as: Ed = A/(A+B) x 100% Where A is the number of essential components, and B is the number of non-essential components. Note that the design efficiency is used to pre-screen a design alternative before more time is spent on it. This analysis is intended to reduce the part count in the product. Typically, a design efficiency of 60% is targeted for initial designs. 2. Part Feeding Analysis Both part insertion and handling times are added for each of the parts in assembly. The time and then the index is calculated to know the ease / difficulty of assembling a part. 3. Fitting Analysis Analysis is being done on How the part is fitted in the assembly? Questions like - Is it going to be screwed, glued or loosely placed or tight fitted etc. are answered and appropriate points are given. 4. Manufacturing Analysis Effort is to calculate the cost of manufacturing each component. This manufacturing cost can influence the choice of material and the process by which the part is made. Although not a true "costing" of the part, this does help guide designers by giving a relative measure of manufacturing cost. This part manufacturing cost allows designers to calculate the effect of part complexity versus part reduction. Based on the outcome of above analysis, the designs are further reviewed till the time; a minimum Design Efficiency Index is achieved.

Here are some basic guidelines for DFA, which helps to make Efficient Designs start from design phase. Generally, you want to start with a concept design and then go through each of these guidelines, decide whether or not it is applicable, and then modify the concept to satisfy the guideline. Companies can build their own guidelines containing more detailed explanation and sketches against each of them. 1. Make Fool-proof design so that the assembly process is unambiguous. Components should be designed so that they can only be assembled in one way; they cannot be reversed. It consists of positioning, orienting, and fixing a part or component. To facilitate orientation, symmetric parts should be used when ever possible. If it is not possible, then the asymmetry must be exaggerated to avoid failures. Use external guiding features to help the orientation of a part. The subsequent operations should be designed so that the orientation of the part is maintained. Fig. 10 shows an example of inserting a pin inside a cylinder.

(Fool proof design) 2. Maximize compliance: Errors can occur during insertion operations due to variations in part dimensions or on the accuracy of the positioning device used. This faulty behavior can cause damage o the part and/or to the equipment. For this reason, it is necessary to include compliance in the part design and in the assembly process. Examples of part built-in compliance features include tapers, undercuts or chamfers and moderate radius sizes to facilitate insertion, and nonfunctional external elements to help detent hidden features. The most common example of making entry chamfer for oil seal insertion is extension of this rule.

3. Think simple: It has been experienced, that finding a complex and costly solution to any problem is relatively easy task, compared to a solution, which is very economic and simple. Use of advanced technology should be restricted only in those areas, where they are called for. Because, use of advanced technology calls for costly hardware, skilled operator and special training for maintenance. Designs made with commonly known principles are always preferred. After all, designs made to solve somebodys problem and so should be at minimum cost! As per example, for the continuous lubrication requirement of a slow speed gear pair may call for an automatic lubrication system and its piping with care for leakage prevention. This problem can be solved by placing non-metallic gear pair with self lubricating properties. 4. Reduce the number of parts because for each part, there is an opportunity for a defective part and an assembly error. The probability of a perfect product goes down exponentially as the number of parts increases. As the number of parts goes up, the total cost of fabricating and assembling the product goes up. Costs related to purchasing, stocking, and servicing also go down as the number of parts are reduced. The designer should go through the assembly part by part and evaluate whether the part can be eliminated, combined with another part, or the function can be performed in another way. To determine the theoretical minimum number of parts, ask the following questions: Does the part move relative to all other moving parts? Must the part absolutely be of a different material from the other parts? Must the part be different to allow possible assembly?

5. Standardize and use common parts and materials to facilitate design activities, to minimize the amount of inventory in the system, and to standardize handling and assembly operations. Common parts will result in lower inventories, reduced costs and higher quality. Operator learning is simplified and there is a greater opportunity for automation as the result of higher production volumes and operation standardization. Limit exotic or unique components because suppliers are less likely to compete on quality or cost for these components. Despite of the fact that very well shaped and elegant looking handles are available in the market for doors, many manufacturers are still continuing with the age old method of making handle made out of bending a steel rod. 6. Use the widest possible tolerances. Reduce the tolerance on non-critical components and thus reduce operations, and processing times. Avoid tight tolerances beyond the natural capability of the manufacturing processes and design in the middle of a part's tolerance range. Because it is very easy to demand accuracy in drawing, but achieving that in the shop floor with available resources can be a different story. The goal for designers should be To design a part with the widest possible tolerance, which can suffice the work. It is also not a bad practice, to mark against a dimension in drawing saying This dimension is not critical. The worst situation comes, when the designer puts tolerance on each of the dimensions or the manufacturer assumes that he has to produce the most accurate product, he can when there is no tolerance is marked in the drawing. For this, the standard for open tolerance (IS: 2102) has to be referred rather than assuming it as tolerance of 1 mm or 0.001 mm. 7. Design for ease of assembly by utilizing simple patterns of movement and minimizing the axes of assembly. Complex orientation and assembly movements in various directions should be avoided. Part features should be provided such as chamfers and tapers. The product's design should enable assembly to begin with a base component with a large relative mass and a low center of gravity upon which other parts are added. Assembly should proceed vertically with other parts added on top and positioned with the aid of gravity. This will minimize the need to re-orient the assembly and reduce the need for temporary fastening and more complex fixturing. A product that is easy to assemble manually will be easily

assembled with automation. Assembly that is automated will be more uniform, more reliable, and of a higher quality. 8. Avoid Separate Fasteners: The use of fasteners increases the cost of manufacturing a product due to the handling and feeding operations that have to be performed. Besides, the high cost of the equipment required for them, these operations are not 100% successful, so they contribute to reducing the overall manufacturing efficiency. In general, fasteners should be avoided and replaced, for example by using tabs or snap fits. If fasteners are to be used, minimize the number of size and verities in a product.

9. Eliminate the need for workers to make decisions or adjustments. Gone are the days, where the manufacturing skills were limitation in producing exact dimension with tolerance required for mechanism to work. It is a wrong practice to hide the ignorance / poor confidence level of designer or manufacture by adding slots or larger clearance holes for assembly / site level adjustments. More such adjustments, means more chances of subjective decisions and so errors or need of a super-skilled operator! Let us take the case of providing clearance hole for fasteners. In well-made components, very often the clearance holes when selected as per IS:1821, provide sufficient adjustment provision to compensate for acceptable manufacturing errors / variations. That is, the clearance hole of Dia 7 mm for M6 bolt or Dia 22 mm for M20 is good enough. You dont have to make the holes any bigger and then cover by shabby washers.

10. Ensure accessibility and visibility. Deep channels should be wide enough, to allow the access for fastening tools. No channel is best. Similarly, asking the fitter to fasten the bolt of motor, by going inside the short height base frame and then tightening it to the required torque leaves all chances of loosely tightened bolts.

11. Color code parts that are different but shaped similarly. Color coding is one of the most powerful tools for visual inspection. Components marked with different colors make eye-catching appearance and help avoiding mistakes. The language of color is more powerful than words or even graphical symbol. Especially in cases of geographical distant locations or working with less-skilled workers, color codes are very effective. 12. Place fasteners away from obstructions; design in fastener access. Ensure sufficient space between fasteners and other features for a fastening tool. Many a times, while working on 3D CAD platform, placing a fastener in assembly is just fixing the constraints to make is Fully Constrained model. Rarely, attention is paid towards the points like from where the fastener will be inserted in the hole, is it possible to hold the bolt head and rotate the nut with spanner? Or, is there the space for putting spanner and rotate it all directions?

13. Design Parts that cannot be Installed Incorrectly: This helps in reducing time for thinking, how do I assemble this part. Provide projects that will disallow incorrect assembly or if two parts can be assembled incorrectly, ensure that assembly of some subsequent part is impossible. Success of DFA implication hinges on close communication among different teams involved in product development: design engineers, marketing experts, manufacturing engineers, service engineers, purchasing etc. The ingredients of this team work include: outstanding leadership from high level management, free communication among all levels of organization and a well planned sequence of design reviews. The design review process that most companies practice today is too hurried and lacks structure. Product development stage gates are often perceived as hoops to jump through the second before the buzzer sounds. If design reviews tend to take place the same week we have to release the design, the review is functioning only to rubberstamp the design, not to rethinking it. After all, the DFM is Designing for Money!! About the author: The author is Director at M/s Hexagon Design Centre, Vadodara engaged in machine and equipment design. Questions, comments and suggestions can be sent on hexagon@iqara.net