How do you reduce cost but not quality on your products?

By 26 March 2020 News No Comments
CDR

At Haughton Design, our design engineers have built a vast array of knowledge from the sheer variety of products that we’ve worked on – from large vehicle fabrications, to micro injection moulded medical parts. This knowledge encompasses not only mechanical engineering and industrial design principles, but also material science, manufacturing processes, quality control, and much more.

It’s common for customers to come to us with a request to design a radical new product and for them to share their CAD data with us of their existing products, and 9 times out of 10, our thoughts are as follows:

“Ah, this looks quite complex.”
“Let’s have a look at this…”
“Let’s break it down and understand each part’s requirement and function…”
“hmmm…”
“Wait a moment…”
“Why is this part made from metal?”
“Why is this bracket holding another bracket?”
etc.

To summarise, we’re constantly querying “Why are you doing it like that and not like this?”, it comes from having a fresh perspective on something.

and for customers to answer:

“…we’re not sure why. We’ve just never thought of doing it like that…”

At Haughton Design we bring a fresh approach to new product development, new ideas are openly exchanged, we communicate with everyone involved from design, to manufacturing, to quality, to transport, to assembly, and most importantly, to the product user.

At each stage we try to note improvements that can be made or improved upon even further, without effecting quality, cost or function.

Typically products are over engineered. This is often due to engineers erring on the side of caution, or by focusing on only engineering the critical areas, and missing opportunities on the items that’re overlooked. We simply look at what’s needed and strip out what’s not. At HD we can make lots of improvements to your existing product, without having to redesign it from the ground up. This is what’s commonly called ‘stripping out cost’, ‘cost reduction’ or ‘engineering cost out’.

Here’s 3 HD tips to help you strip out cost:

Buy rather than make (unless you really have to!)
Economies of scale 101. Someone’s probably already engineered, manufactured, tested and sold the part that you need to design. When they’re making the parts in high volume it’s obviously going to cost less for them per part, than it’s going to cost you to custom make just a few.

Over the years we’ve seen plenty of custom machined bushings, bespoke handles, and lots and lots of tapped holes in sheet metal.

Consider looking at websites likes Igus or Bearing Boys for bushings. If your holes/depths of a bore don’t match up with what’s commercially available, question why, and if it’s needed. More often than not, a hole diameter can be changed to suit off the shelf bushings.

Consider looking at websites like Elesa, Essentra, Misumi, WDS, or Wixroyd for typical engineering components, there’s a surprisingly large library of off the shelf componentry.

Consider using PEMS or other similar engineered weld/rivet nut fasteners when developing sheet metal components, riveting fasteners to a panel is much quicker and easier for a manufacturer, compared to them risk breaking their thread cutting tap!

Know your materials!
You wouldn’t make a cable from glass, a bracket from cardboard, nor a bolt from gold. These are somewhat overly obvious examples. But the same goes for grades of materials, perhaps a lower grade or thinner piece of material be used?

We typically receive drawings of simple metalwork bracketry, and for customers to think that there’s nothing more we can do to reduce cost. But it’s common for HD to strip out significant costs, from just changing the grade or type of material! For example, changing the grade of a non-load bearing bracket from architectural grade steel S275J to CR4 (DC01) can be an easy cost saver.

Negotiate on price, but negotiate fairly!
Finally, once all of the mechanical changes have been made to reduce cost as much as possible, the last line is to negotiate on cost and quality! But remember to negotiate fairly. Just because Manufacturer A says they can make a part at a lower cost than Manufacturer B, doesn’t mean that the quality will be just as good!

At HD, we’ve developed a long list of approved suppliers who we can draw on, at appropriate stages of the project. We won’t use a manufacturer geared up for high volume manufacture of metal CNC parts, when we can use a local machine shop who’re great for low volume or bespoke items. We don’t necessarily use the lowest cost supplier, nor the highest quality supplier, often it comes down to speed of delivery. However after hundreds of different projects, we do know who to use, and when it’s cost effective to us them.

These are only a handful of cost down techniques and methods we use at HD to reduce cost, without reducing quality. Please contact us if you would like us to see if we can help you out with cost reduction.

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