Whether searching for a partner or planning to do the work internally, to bring motion and control value to your next development project, verify that the team has the right tools and skills to guarantee success. To facilitate a successful motion control strategy, use these six key questions to insure the elimination of waste and the maximization of value.
1. Do you have a Stage Gate process?
Whether you are looking for a catalog product or a custom designed product from your supplier, working with someone that employs a stage gate process for development is an absolute must. This provides the assurance that there are clear deliverables and quality checks that deliverables are completed. Ultimately this type of process provides the foundation for your partner to provide a well-engineered, robust solution.
2. Do you use trained program managers or project managers to run your development projects?
Dwight Eisenhower said, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” The ultimate meaning is that whatever plans you make will need to be adjusted as new information becomes available. To be able to react quickly, both partners should assign a project manager to the development project as early as possible to guarantee they are exposed to both the commercial and technical details.
3. What is your quality management system and how will it ensure a low RPPM (Return Parts Per Million)?
The best suppliers have a focus on variability reduction and have trained their key leaders in Six Sigma practices to ensure that both the product and the process are robust.
4. Do you have a process to manage your design efforts to meet a target cost?
Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a methodology to turn qualitative user demands into quantitative engineering requirements. Versions of the methodology include an extension into Value Engineering, whereby a value (or target cost) can be arrived at for each subsystem of a device or instrument. Without a target cost process that is integrated into the development cycle, there will be surprises later in the process.
5. What is your long term production strategy and how will you ramp up to production volumes?
There is no singular strategy that will be right for every development effort. The key is to verify that your partner has one to match your unique challenges.If you are moving to a contract manufacturer in Southeast Asia, you want someone with the capability to ramp up production of their subsystem in Southeast Asia. If your product will be cyclical, you want someone who can flex capacity to meet demand. The scenarios are endless, but the need to check your needs against your partner’s capabilities is timeless.
6. Do you have a culture of continuous improvement?
The opportunities for lean improvement extend well beyond the plant floor and into the office and support functions of organizations all over the world. Organizations with engaged employees who are empowered to make decisions at their level, yet understand enterprise functionality, will be the most effective.
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Article contributed by Brian Handerhan, Business Development Manager, Electromechanical & Drives Division, Parker Hannifin Corporation.
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