Here at Wilke our quoting is done by 4 people who, between them, have worked in manufacturing for over 120 years. As the old saying goes, “there’s no substitute for experience,” and we’ve found that to be true time and time again. One area in particular where we’ve seen experience play a pivotal role is designing for manufacturability.
Designing for manufacturability refers to changing a design in order to make it less expensive and more efficient to manufacture. Wilke doesn’t do traditional design work. Our customers bring designs to us and we go from there. But we review every design we receive, and often offer suggestions that will save our customers money.
For example, overengineering is a trap that many young engineers fall into. We’ll get drawings with tolerances of 5 thousandths of an inch, where 1/16 in. will do. We can handle tight tolerances, and there are jobs that call for them. But tight tolerances cost money, and more often than not, a looser tolerance will more than get the job done. Tighter tolerances mean twice as many setup pieces, a higher rejection rate which in turn means more scrap, increased labor costs and longer lead times. Loosening unnecessarily tight tolerances means customers will have their products sooner, and pay less for them.
Design suggestions take many forms beyond tolerances. In some cases, a customer will spec out an expensive material, when a less expensive or easier to work with material will suit their application. In other cases, designing for manufacturabilty simply means making something manufacturable in the first place. Quite often we receive designs that are not manufacturable by regular processes.
Creating a functional design is one thing. Creating a functional, manufacturable design is something else entirely. In the end, we’re simply offering suggestions to make projects more cost effective for our customers. By combining our experience with their expertise, we create designs that are stronger than the sum of their parts.