Motorola University trains teams of Motorola employees, customers and supply chain partners to integrate Motorola’s legacy Six Sigma program with lean initiatives, as well as software that facilitates the design for manufacture and assembly. Source: Motorola University

With campuses around the globe, Motorola University (MU, Chicago) has been an educational innovator in business and technology since 1974. Newer campuses in Asia meet a growing need for business optimization programs that produce results in a global marketplace of shifting economies and rising manufacturing costs.

Steven Lee, instructor at Motorola’s Quality Institute in Taiwan, trains teams of Motorola employees, customers and supply chain partners to integrate Motorola’s legacy Six Sigma program with lean initiatives and software that facilitates the design for manufacture and assembly. His approach is an applied business strategy that works: This year, a top electronic device manufacturer completed 12 product redesign projects in four months, saving $6.8 million.

The quest for faster and better product development strategies leads busy engineers and business managers to Motorola University. “The average product manufacturing lifecycle is very short, about three to six months, and Motorola’s global development teams and customers launch hundreds of new products each year,” says Lee. “So we are always under pressure to improve, to retain quality with a current heightened emphasis on cost.”

This focus on speeding a high-quality, yet inexpensive product to the consumer includes using Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) software from Boothroyd Dewhurst Inc. (Wakefield, RI).

The use of Boothroyd Dewhurst Inc.’s DFMA software resulted in products with fewer parts that required less assembly time for an electronic device manufacturer. Source: Boothroyd Dewhurst Inc.

DFMA Integration

DFMA software is based on two interlocking approaches: Design for Assembly (DFA) and Design for Manufacturing (DFM). DFA guides engineers to evaluate the functional purpose of each assembly component in a conceptual design, helping them to simplify the design and reduce parts. DFM identifies and calculates the costs associated with manufacturing and finishing parts in alternative processes.

A clear goal of a DFA project is part reduction, as part-count reduction is the mechanism for eliminating labor content. While no design tool removes labor content from a product, reduced labor content is the result of part-count reduction.

“Our primary mission at MU is to provide learning solutions to internal and external customers to enhance overall business performance,” says Lee. “Six Sigma can enhance product quality, cost, delivery, service and customer satisfaction, and the DFMA program is key to optimal design and reducing manufacturing costs.”

Motorola University emphasizes collaboration and integration, with cross engineering between design and industrial engineers, and even inter-organizational teams of engineers and business managers.

“We also encourage customers to build their annual business balance scorecard according to customer cost strategies and key performance indexes that integrate Six Sigma and DFA methodology,” says Lee. Each company is required to keep a scorecard that blends all these sciences and helps quantify project goals and results.

Students find DFA user friendly, and are impressed by the significant reductions in part count and assembly time. “Overall average part-count reduction is 35% for new product design and 11% for existing product redesign,” says Lee. “We find that introducing DFA at the initial design stage generally gives the most cost benefits.”

Ultimately, a direct engagement of business leaders, and training in DFMA, promotes support from top management in customer organizations.

When the value of engineering tools such as DFMA is made clear to management and to Motorola customers, “DFMA becomes institutionalized as part of a greater business strategy,” says Lee. This approach reinforces success. “Then these people return to their companies, taking with them lean, Six Sigma and DFMA real-world experience-carrying this message with them.”<

DFMA Laptop Design

A top Asian electronic device manufacturer (EDM) wanted to reduce the manufacturing cost of their laptop by at least 30% within six months. The company had been using Six Sigma for several years, but was “looking for a systematic methodology to improve overall performance,” says Lee. With this in mind, Lee trained a team of the company’s employees to reduce the part count and assembly time of the laptop with DFMA.

Part-count reduction as a means to reduce labor content is fast becoming a cost reduction strategy to offset rising labor costs in Asia. “Each year labor costs in China increase by 10%, driving either cost reduction or shifting labor to Vietnam or back to home countries,” says Lee.

The EDM training class had more than 100 participants, from backgrounds that included design engineering, manufacturing and product management, with professional experience ranging from two to 20 years. Some had Six Sigma Black Belts and others were assigned Green Belts. To stay on track, Lee had just one day to train his class in DFA software, and two days for project coaching.

Along with the Six Sigma statistical method, and the lean approach to cutting waste, Lee taught the EDM team to integrate DFMA-for design iteration, benchmarking and overall cost reduction. The cost information stored in the program reduces time-consuming recalculating that engineers would otherwise need to do. “To improve manufacturing time, we simply consult the program instead of standing on a factory floor with a stopwatch doing time studies, which have become obsolete,” notes Lee.

The Motorola/EDM team reduced their laptop parts by 36% in 90 days using the DFA Project Quick Win model. They also were trained in DFMA practices. In total they completed 12 projects, saving 30% on part count and assembly time for a PDA, 41.3% part count reduction on an LCD TV and 57.5% reduced part count on a server. For the laptop, DFA identified fasteners and clamps for elimination, parts for consolidation and improved ease and time of assembly.

Laptop design engineers brought their original design to the table, and in collaboration with Motorola instructors the laptop design was refined and improved dramatically using a smooth and focused collaborative process. Lee notes that DFA as a “systematic and objective methodology clearly promotes the evolution of design iterations and overcomes any hypothetical resistance against innovation.”

Lee believes that the University’s Six Sigma, lean and DFMA project model, through sponsorship from business unit heads, business scorecards and presentations of final product design, fully engages business management in the product design process, producing lasting effects. In other organizations, engineering is largely separated from business management, but the Motorola approach bridges that divide and brings business leaders right to the CAD table. “To realize maximum cost efficiency in the long term it is imperative to foster a shared perspective between management and engineering,” says Lee.

Boothroyd Dewhurst Inc.

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By using Six Sigma methodology and Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) software from Boothroyd Dewhurst Inc., Motorola University helped an electronic device manufacturer achieve:
  • Laptop part reduction of 36% in 90 days.
  • 30% reduction on part count and assembly time for a PDA.
  • 41.3% reduction on part count for an LCD TV.
  • 57.5% reduction on part count for a server.