Manufacturing activity is a leading driver in the economy right now. That’s welcome news for this community of engineers and managers. According to the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), orders for tools and related technology were up 66.4 percent in 2011 from the previous calendar year. In fact, says Douglas K. Woods, president of AMT, it’s the “strongest year in more than a decade” for this sector.

What make such numbers especially remarkable are the compelling stories of disciplined focus and reinvention that underlie the rebound. In the Worth Reading column of this newsletter, for example, is an article about two U.S. companies in desperate straits due to changing markets and burgeoning overhead. But Timken Co and Marlin Steel Wire Products invested in tools, people and innovation to see their way to success. They turned around their businesses in “true grit” fashion, just as many others have had to do.

We’ve talked before about the “one-by-one” economic turnaround, where individual companies close out the market noise and bear down on things that they can control and can change. We’ve also discussed the large factors-of-scale improvements that are possible when using DFMA with Value Engineering, Lean and new supply chain partnership approaches.

Our lead feature in the newsletter is an insightful byline by Jay Mortensen about what he and his company did after he was asked to decide whether to offshore or domestically source a motor assembly. DFMA helped provide the objective data that allowed for consensus building among their managers, engineers and suppliers. It’s one story, about one more success, but with a twist that should appeal to everyone debating “localization.”

At this year’s June 12-13 DFMA International Forum, there will be other tales of consensus, hard work and accomplishment. One presenter will show how his team managed not only to meet but surpass a 50-percent cost reduction goal; another how they created and integrated a unique database for supporting DFMA globally, involving hundreds of users and many more in the engineering development stream.

The lights are going on in manufacturing. Join us at the Forum to learn about the powerful role that design can play in boosting your profitability and aiding your manufacturing activity.

Sincerely yours,

Nick Dewhurst

Manufacturing Momentum is the theme of the 2012 International Forum on Design for Manufacture and Assembly, to be held again on June 12-13 (Tue-Wed) at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Providence, RI. This year’s theme extends an ongoing conference discussion about the economy and the worldwide business of manufacturing. We urge you and your team to attend. The DFMA Forum strives to improve the practices of design and manufacturing, foster a deeper understanding of the interdependence of those disciplines and show you, through examples from other experts, how to meld quality, efficiency and innovation into profits. Each year the benchmarks provided at the Forum by presenting companies have been outstanding, as has been their advice. CLICK HERE for more information on 2012 topics and registration.

Most poor decisions occur when people are starved for useful information. This truth certainly applies to the trend, involving manufacturers from nearly every developed nation, of chasing the lowest out-of-country labor rates to achieve target costs. Offshoring production, followed by the return of goods and assemblies to their primary markets, is a decision seldom supported by hard numbers. Understanding how lack of knowledge about product design and accounting undermines domestic-based production—wherever it takes place—is the beginning of a journey by companies and countries toward achieving globally competitive manufacturing sourced in home markets. For the full story go to:

In the beginning of this product development, as in all others at Motorola Solutions, cost savings were an important consideration and a team goal.  If any potential cost savings could be identified, quantified and then implemented early on, this additional cost could then be avoided, thus reducing any direct and indirect costs of the product right from the beginning.  Implementing these cost avoidances early on is when we would receive the most benefits. For the full story go to:












As referenced in our introduction, “Leveraging Knowledge,” published in the January 2012 issue of Mechanical Engineering, provides an in-depth look at how two fairly traditional American companies got caught in quickly changing markets and faced forces seemingly beyond their control. Yet, against significant odds, they reinvented themselves and pushed on. Kudos to writer Alan Brown for his fine-grain analysis and solid business reporting. This is must reading! CLICK HERE.

How do we begin to understand the economics of the last American century, or past trends that may parallel where we are headed today? Agree or disagree, there is something for everyone to take away and discuss in Vanity Fair’s January article “The Book of Jobs.” Author Joseph E. Stiglitz re-examines the Great Depression and future challenges. CLICK HERE

If you wondered who exactly was on the upside of the insourcing uptick, then we invite you to read the February issue of Design2Part, which has several articles on the subject, including coverage of Boothroyd Dewhurst’s Nick Dewhurst. Joining Nick are DFMA experts Mike Shipulski and Dave Meeker, accompanied by Reshoring Initiative founder Harry Moser. (Moser is returning to the 2012 Forum to share new information collected from companies that are using his Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) program. He will also give an update on national manufacturing developments. CLICK HERE

Who says designs should be simple? Nobody at the National Rube Goldberg Competition, held annually. Named for the famed, gimmick-creating cartoonist, the contest asks designers to come up with the most complicated mechanism to perform a simple task. CLICK HERE to see last year’s champions, U. of Wisconsin, use an Ancient Egyptian-themed machine to dispense hand sanitizing lotion.

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DFMA Insights April 2012