How DFM Protects and Elevates Your New Product Development
Design for Manufacture (DFM) is crucial to product development and has more in common with building a custom home than you might think.
No one would dream of approaching such a project without direct collaboration with the home’s intended occupants, a blueprint for the completed structure, and high levels of coordination between construction teams. (Framers, plumbers, painters, electricians, cabinet makers, interior designers, and the like.) Not only would it be an exercise in chaos, but there would also be no way to design and construct the home in an integrated fashion. For all the intended homeowner would know, a bedroom could end up being built right off a kitchen, or the upper level might contain three bathrooms, and the ground floor, none.
While this is a bit of an absurd scenario, when companies undertake product development without the benefit of DFM, they run similar risks. Without DFM, “bedrooms” are routinely built off of “kitchens,” and redundant “bathrooms” are not nearly the anomaly you’d expect them to be. Each of these “rooms” (aspects of a product) may be perfectly functional or well-designed as individual components, but that’s not the issue. The issue is the design and actual “construction” (manufacturing) haven’t been integrated and customized to use-case from the start. (And this results in a product that is less innovative and profitable than it could be.)
At Pivot International, much of our name and industry-leading reputation is built on our world-class DFM talent. Combined with our product development expertise that spans fourteen industries and 320,000 square feet of manufacturing capability, Pivot is a proven partner to companies worldwide. We are proud of our in-house DFM and the part we play in co-creating some of the world’s most successful and award-winning products.
As we will show, DFM is essential to protecting and elevating your new product development. Here’s why.
DFM helps you see around corners.
Let’s quickly return to our custom home building analogy. Lumber and other building materials are currently in short supply and running 3x higher than average. This is stopping many construction projects in their tracks, significantly slowing them down, or preventing them from getting off the ground altogether.
Lumber and building materials aren’t the only things in short supply. Certain electronic components and manufacturing materials are also currently harder to come by or are more expensive to procure. If your product is designed from the start with supply chain considerations and risks in mind, you can see around corners. This enables you to head off issues before they occur or, if they arise, to deploy effective contingency plans. At Pivot, our access to extensive global sourcing networks helps us stay one step ahead of supply chain disruption.
DFM enables you to optimize for use-case.
Because lumber is currently challenging to procure or incredibly expensive, synthetic building materials are in high demand as a cost-effective alternative. If DFM were applied to homebuilding, the blueprint (design) that was created and the BOM that accompanied it would, from the start, have factored in the cost-differentials of lumber vs. wood alternatives. It would also take into account how different materials would affect the quality of the build, the “UX” of the occupants, the value of the completed home, and whether it would comply with current building regulations.
Reverse engineering product design from supply chain and manufacturing considerations just makes sense. It reveals a range of otherwise invisible options. With this visibility comes insight into strategic tradeoffs pertaining to materials, technologies, design approaches, and manufacturing methods as optimized for your use-case.
DFM fuels innovation.
Few design professionals have been taught to approach design from a manufacturing perspective. The consequence is that they are not forced to contend with the challenges posed by manufacturing limitations. Sure, it’s easy to design something spectacular on paper, but cost-effectively manufacture it? That’s an entirely different challenge.
Because DFM talent is trained to understand what works on paper does not necessarily translate to manufacturing, they tend to be among the most innovative yet practical of all design professionals. After all, they have to be. As stories of Apple founder Steve Job’s efforts to bring the iPhone to market attest, the creative reconciliation between design and manufacturing is where the real magic happens. (Create a device that’s a personal computer, phone, camera, and music player, all in one? Doable. Fit it into a phone-sized device? At the time, practically impossible.)
Are you gearing up to bring a new product to market? Are you looking for a trusted partner who can take your product from conception to distribution? Our integrative teams bring extensive experience to serve your every product development need, all under one roof. With nearly fifty years of proven experience, we’ll work directly with you to make your product vision a winning reality! Contact us today for a free consultation.