Related Tools And Techniques Of Value Analysis

Related Tools and Techniques

This section briefly describes tools and techniques that have been identified by this report. These references may provide useful ‘signposts’ for companies that are considering which tools to use during the process of VA.

Product Platforms

Platform designs offer a high degree of standardization as well as the ability to customize products in the final stages of manufacturing and assembly. This maximizes the number of core items and allows a business to ‘create’ new products with minor modifications. The benefits of this approach are economies of scale associated with core parts, the familiarity of workers through repetitive assembly of these parts thereby gaining efficiency and finally the small inventory requirement to enable customization. An example of a platform strategy would include the development of a stapling device that has an universal pressing  mechanism but has a colour-coded outer cover that allows the product to be customized to the requirements of the purchaser. Another example would be a car company that has many common parts between vehicle ranges (all cars of the same size) but customizes the product to order at the latest possible stage (i.e. adding the specific customer requirements such as airconditioning, CD player, anti-lock brakes).

Concurrent/Simultaneous Engineering, Participative Design/Engineering

A practice that involves the participation of all functional areas of the firm in the product design activity as a means to compress the time between concept to launch. Suppliers and customers are often included. The intent is to enhance the design with the inputs of all the key stakeholders. Such a process should ensure that the final design meets all the needs of the stakeholders and should ensure a product that can be quickly brought to the marketplace while maximizing quality and minimizing costs. Synonyms are co-design, concurrent design or engineering, parallel engineering, simultaneous design/engineering, team design/engineering. In the case of a company that manufactures telephone systems this practice reduced the time from design to sales in the market by one third of an existing product.

Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

A methodology designed to ensure that all the major requirements of the customer are identified and subsequently met or exceeded through the resulting product design process and the design and operation of the supporting production management system. QFD can be viewed as a set of communication and translation tools. QFD tries to eliminate the gap between what the customer wants in a new product and what the product is capable of delivering. QFD often leads to a clear identification of the major requirements of the customers. These expectations are referred to as the voice of the customer. For related topics see also ‘House of quality’. This technique, that was developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to design ocean vessels, has been used with tremendous effect by electronics and automotive companies although the technique is now popular in other sectors.

Process Mapping
Process mapping is a step-by-step analysis of the design to customer process. At each stage in the process, the team record the activity, its duration, the number of people involved and any comments related to the process (especially any costs or failures at that stage). Each stage is listed as the process happens and the chart provides a good means of analysing what happens to the data and physical product as it moves through the business. The  ompleted chart also allows the team to identify stages that can be eliminated, reduced in duration, or those that cause the greatest amount of problems. The purpose is therefore to understand the process and to streamline it. This chart also allows a flow chart to be produced as a standard operating procedure to control the process in the future. An associated technique, an evolution of the flow chart that is used by many advanced VA companies is ‘four fields mapping’. This technique plots all the stages and tasks associated with the design process against the business departments involved in the total process. It shows who is involved when and at what stage, where decisions must be taken and what standards must be achieved in order to progress from one stage to another. The four fields mapping technique is therefore both a procedure and can also be a form of project control chart.

Design for Manufacture/Assembly (DFX)

A product development approach that involves the manufacturing function in the initial stages of the product design to ensure ease of manufacturing and assembly. Since its introduction, the concept has been extended to design for ‘remanufacture’ or even design for ‘supply chain management’, involving suppliers in the design stage. It is generally referred to as DFX. As most of the design weaknesses of a product become visible in the production process this approach and set of techniques can result in very large savings in efficiency, time, and also quality losses.

Design FMEA

Design Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a procedure in which each potential failure mode in every sub-item of an item is analyzed to determine its effect on other sub-items and on the required function of the item. This approach is a means of identifying the sources and frequency of failure in order to prevent (or to target) areas of weakness in the product design.

Kano Model

The Kano model relates three factors (which Kano argues are present in every product or service) to the degree of implementation. Kano’s three factors are ‘basic’ (or must be), performance (more is better), and delighter (excitement factors). The degree of customer satisfaction ranks from disgust, to neutral and finally delight. This technique is best illustrated by a product such as a computer printer. At the basic level the printer must be safe, in terms of performance it is typically measured in a number of pages per minute and an excitement factor could be that the printer can also receive fax transmissions. It should be noted that these basic, performance and excitement factors that represent value are not static and what was once an excitement factor will often become a performance factor over time. Take motor cars as an example, once central locking, airbags, and ABS systems were excitement factors – today we take forgranted that they are merely performance factors.

Taguchi Methods

A concept of off-line quality control methods conducted at the product and process design stages in the product development cycle. This concept, expressed by Genichi Taguchi,encompasses three phases of product design: system design, parameter design, and tolerance design. The goal is to reduce quality loss by reducing the product’s characteristics during the parameter phase of product development. This process is founded upon the experimental testing of designs. The Taguchi technique involves some complex mathematical calculations to refine the design process and to get a better, more accurate, design in less time.