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International Game Technologies is a worldwide supplier of computerized gaming machines. Using Boothroyd Dewhurst Design for Manufacturing and Assembly software engineers score 40 percent total savings on slot machine part and assembly costs.

Design analysis software helps engineers score 40 percent total savings on slot machine part and assembly costs.

Long before the lights start flickering in the video slot machine corner of a casino, a light bulb has to go on over a design engineer’s head.

And over the heads of an electrical engineer, a mechanical engineer, and a manufacturing engineer as well. “The simple part of a gaming machine is putting in your money and pushing a button,” says Sam Mikhail, Engineering Manager at International Game Technology (IGT). “The difficult part is keeping every other task relating to the machine nearly as simple. Our customers aren’t only the brand-name operators—it’s everyone who touches the machine.” That includes installation personnel, casino employees reloading the cash system, service technicians, players, and others.

Specifications for the gaming system are quite rigorous inside and out. Because it is an electromechanical product, there are EMF and ESD requirements as well as safety standards to meet. Beyond these, there are security requirements imposed for gaming equipment. “Safety, security, quality, functionality and cost reduction are our main design goals,” Mikhail says. In addition, the slot machines must be customizable for a wide variety of games, with new ones coming out every few months.

But the more complex the internal assembly, the more time-consuming assembly and service can be. Unless the design team strives for simplicity, their product can build in costs up front. That can raise IGT’s manufacturing costs—and the customer’s service costs as well. “Bear in mind,” Mikhail says, “Every moment that these machines are shut down they make no money for the casino. Ease of service is extremely important so, for designers here, that’s a constant challenge.”

To meet that challenge, and coupled with his experience in implementing DFMA programs in a number of companies, Sam Mikhail led the initiative to implement DFMA in IGT, turning to Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) analysis software from Boothroyd Dewhurst, Inc. (Wakefield, RI), as an integral requirement that complemented the workshops that emphasized DFMA principles and techniques.

Through the use of the software, one of the design teams in the pilot workshop managed to pare 30 percent off part cost and an impressive 50 percent off assembly times and costs for a critical electrical box used in many of their machines.