Design for Manufacturing: Where Innovation and Cost-Savings Intersect

Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is an approach to product design that aims to make it as scalable (cost-effective) as possible. DFM works by attempting to challenge and crack the code of design to detect unnecessary costs hidden within it.

In this sense, DFM has a lot in common with elite cyber-security agents or “hackers-for-hire” that large financial institutions often employ to test their network security. The idea is for the hackers to do everything possible to breach the company’s network, and in the process, identify vulnerabilities in order to fortify them. DFM works on the same principles, only instead of looking for vulnerabilities in an online network, it looks for them in the design and design process itself. So while it’s the job of hackers-for-hire to defend an online network against cybercriminals, it’s the job of DFM teams to defend a design against hidden costs, and ultimately, a company’s competitors.

At Pivot International, we are a global one-source leader with in-house DFM expertise across fourteen industries, including medical, industrial, commercial, and consumer. With 320,000 square feet of flexible manufacturing space spanning three continents, for nearly a half-century, we’ve been the driving force behind some of the world’s most prestigious and award-winning innovations.

To better understand why DFM is such a sought-after specialty, let’s take a look at how it works and the advantages it offers.

DFM Knocks Down to Build Up

At Pivot, DFM begins with obtaining original drawings, CAD models, or other product data and undertaking what amounts to a deconstructive effort. In theory, if not in actual practice, every aspect of the design is strategically “knocked down” to provide the opportunity to build it back up on more cost-effective terms. This deconstruction effort is only effective if it includes a comprehensive understanding of the product’s larger ecosystem.

This ecosystem includes everything from market research to competitor analysis to use case data to supply chain challenges to the cost of raw materials, components, assemblies, production runs, and more. For this reason, Pivot takes a highly collaborative approach to product development, working directly with relevant stakeholders from inception and throughout the process.

DFM Takes the Integration of a One-Source Partner to a New Level

Any one-source partner can guarantee the product development process will be undertaken in an integrative and streamlined fashion. But only a partner with in-house DFM ensures that each phase of the process is optimized with manufacturing in mind. On its own, a one-source model has many benefits —- greater transparency and flexibility, simplified vendor relations, higher quality control, enhanced supply chain security, and much more — but DFM takes these benefits to a new level.

DFM drives innovation because teams must grapple with hard questions that often appear to have no clear or viable answer. Reconciling the aesthetic and functional dimensions of superior design with manufacturing limitations and cost-savings requires innovation. For this reason, one-source partners with DFM expertise are masters of reframing problems in entirely new ways to find creative, unusual, and unexpected solutions.

Developing a Robust Use Case is Crucial

Optimizing a design for scalable manufacture without developing a robust use case for the product in question is an exercise in foreseeable failure. But, again, this goes back to the necessity of understanding the broader product ecosystem, especially when it comes to cellular and IoT products.

Different cellular and IoT use cases require very different technologies. Depending on why, how, where, when, and by whom a product is being used (and how frequently), it may require not just one but multiple technologies that are carefully matched to use case.

At Pivot, we bring extensive technical diversity and experience across a wide range of technologies, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Cellular, LoRa, LTE, Cat M, NB-IoT, 5G, and more. Understanding how to optimize a design for use case and cost-effective manufacture represents the intersection of utility and innovation that is essential to market success.

Is your company gearing up to bring a new product to market? Would you like to better understand how Pivot’s DFM expertise can translate to not only significant cost savings but also a more competitive product and expedited TTM? Contact us today. We’re looking forward to working with you and supporting your success!

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