Quality R&D - How to apply quality principles/plans to a strict design R&D setting?

I

ivan99

#1
I need your opinions re how to apply quality principles/plans to a strict design R&D setting. The product is a design. This design is then sent to a factory and only one item is produced period. No replicates are fabricated. How cxan one ensure the robustness of such a design except perhaps peer review prior to fabrication and based on prior experience. Your ideas are much appreciated.
 
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Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#2
FMEA rules!

ivan99 said:
I need your opinions re how to apply quality principles/plans to a strict design R&D setting. The product is a design. This design is then sent to a factory and only one item is produced period. No replicates are fabricated. How cxan one ensure the robustness of such a design except perhaps peer review prior to fabrication and based on prior experience. Your ideas are much appreciated.
An excellent question!

Think of this situation in the same way as tool and die designers who design and have their designs executed into a single tool, die, or mold which is used to make other products.

Typically, designers of one-time products make every effort to have an extremely rigorous "Failure Mode & Effects Analysis" (FMEA) of their design and of the subsequent product to be made from the design.

This term (FMEA) and the process it represents is too well known and common to waste space in this thread explaining it. In my experience, good engineers and designers have been using this process for ages, even if they didn't have a formal name for the process.
 
Last edited:

bpritts

Involved - Posts
#3
Wes is on target with the recommendation on use of FMEA. This technique will help to improve the reliability of the finished design. The depth that you take the FMEA depends on the possible severity of the worst possible failure of the device designed. If it's a toy that breaks and annoys the customer, vs. a
80,000 lb semi that loses control and plows through a school playground killing
12, or a nuclear weapon that accidentally detonates and causes WWIII, you
obviously need different levels of product assurance!

Let me throw out a few comments from another perspective.

Many quality slogans press for perfection - e.g. our old friend, Zero Defects, on down to Six Sigma. The reality is that invention really is different from repetitive execution. You really *can't* get a design "right" the first time, if it's truly a one time endeavor. Instead, you will get more or less effective,
more or less robust designs.

My bias is to structure your system to learn as much as possible from each
design, so that your organization continually improves its performance. Do harsh, real world "lessons learned" reviews of each design job. Don't let the designers off the hook by saying that the learning doesn't apply - it can.
Maybe not on the very next job, but sooner or later it will.

A related goal: structure the system to be as effective as possible in
capturing and communicating user needs and objectives. Many design
failures result from designers who really didn't understand in depth what
the end user really wanted and needed. Sometimes the failure is in
not capturing the knowledge, other times not communicating the knowledge ("design inputs").

Another hint is to structure the design program to do as much intermediate
testing of prototypes as possible. Designers learn from failure.

For a longer discussion of the "real world" aspects, look for several books
by Henry Petroski. He's a professor who studies design and specifically
looks at the importance of failure analysis in improving design.

Best of luck!

Brad
 
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