DFM is important because of four main reasons – without DFM you’ll fail.
- It drastically reduces production costs.
- It makes sure your product goes from Proof of concept to mass manufacturing.
- It reduces set up time for the factory.
- It leads to a shorter Time to Market.
Let’s explore each one of the reasons why you should implement DFM from the beginning of the product development process.
DFM Importance – Cost Reduction
Perhaps you’ve already heard this: Hardware is a Cash Flow Business; here at Titoma we back up that statement.
And it’s also backed up by statistics.
According to Cbinsgihts, 29% of new hardware ventures fail because they run out of money.
That’s not going to happen to my company; I have millions raised to develop and manufacture my product – you might be thinking.
Congrats on having all that money, but sometimes not even $118 million is enough to make it.
Airware, despite raising $118 million, ran out of money after trying to manufacture its own hardware.
The main reason for this failure- apart from poor leadership – was trying to develop and manufacture every single part of their hardware (a drone); they wanted to be proprietary owners of it all.
An ex-employee explained how, in Airware, nothing was good enough, so everything was invented.
That was the perfect formula to make those development costs skyrocket through the roof.
And it was a decision that goes against one of the most basic laws of DFM.
Our CEO, in his 9 DFM Guidelines article says:
“Use off the shelf components parts wherever possible”
Standard components are key to developing a manufacturable product that meets functionality and costs.
Around 70% of the manufacturing costs of a product come from design decisions, that includes components and parts selections and manufacturing method.
Notice how I wrote, “component and parts selection,” now what more if someone has the brilliant idea to manufacture all parts and components from scratch.
Still, somehow some Western companies wait eight weeks and pay a $250 K set-up fee for a custom LCD, when in China almost any display imaginable is readily available, mature, and at a little cost.
So remember, one of the reasons DFM is important is that it reduces product development costs by dictating you to use off the shelf parts.
DFM Importance – Scaling-Up
Scaling up is when you go from one prototype that works to thousands of end products that deliver expected functionality and meet established costs.
At this stage, you have to deal with two things, your manufacturing partner’s capabilities and components availability.
When you’re doing a couple of dozen prototypes you can use any and as many components and parts as you want, but when the time comes to build thousands, they might turn out not to be the best choice regarding costs and lead time.
And what if on top of that, the manufacturing plant doesn’t have the capacity or technology to handle the components you chose for your design?
Take Juicero as an example.
It consisted of 400 custom parts and dozens of components and subsystems, it’s as if they wanted to make the device as difficult to manufacture as possible.
It was so not DFM friendly.
Juicero failed by the way.
Bottom line, if you designed your product without considering your manufacturing plant’s capabilities and components availability, you’ll have a hard time scaling up.
You’ll have to go back to the design board and start over.
Allow me to introduce another DFM guideline from our CEO.
“Involve key suppliers early in the design”
This way, you’ll ensure that each custom and non-custom part of your design is available in stock and compatible with the machines and capabilities of the factory you’re working with.
DFM Importance – Setting Up Manufacturing
This might be a little obvious but is still worth mentioning because many times is overlooked.
The more components and parts your product has, the bigger the production line will be.
The more machines and work stations will need to be set up.
There’ll be more operations required per part.
The more workers will have to be trained, and in case the plant doesn’t have them, they’ll have to start looking for them.
If you follow a DFM approach to your product development process, you’ll end up with a product consisting of as few parts and components as possible.
This will significantly reduce the number of operations required per part and simplify assembly.
Now for the most important reason to use DFM.
DFM Importance – Faster Time to Market
DFM aims at creating a smooth transition from prototyping to mass manufacturing.
That right there is the key to making it to the market before your competitors and make some serious profit.
Imagine you spend months or years developing a product just to realize that it’s not possible to mass manufacture it in a timely and cost-effective manner.
All that money and time wasted. Now you have to start over, that is, if you can afford it.
And now, after a redesign, even if you get to manufacture the product this time, you’ll realize that your entry to the market is late; your competitor already took your market share.
That’s a very dark scenario I now, but sadly, one that many new hardware ventures go through.
Just Google hardware failures and you’ll see it for yourself.
In many instances, these hardware companies fail because they failed to embrace DFM.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent countless hours on the design of your product and is the best in the industry; if it’s not manufacturable, it was just a waste of resources.
DFM importance resides in making sure whatever you design is manufacturable, something way too many companies fail at.