Why should I care about assembly labor?
A common product cost reduction strategy is to design individual parts to be simpler, easier to manufacture and less expensive to produce. From the following chart, you can see why an engineer might put all their focus on part costs.The reality is that this strategy can actually lead to a higher total product cost relative to a strategy that focuses on minimizing assembly labor. How could this be? The answer lies in the fact that designing parts to be easy to manufacture tends to increase the total number of parts, while designing a product to be easy to assemble usually reduces the number of parts. Industry research has shown that thanks to modern manufacturing techniques, using fewer parts will frequently be less expensive than using a large number of inexpensive parts.
How do I execute this strategy?
In theory, it seems easy enough for a good designer to simply avoid adding extra parts. Yet in practice, many finished designs are very inefficient because the product development team either didn’t have enough time or didn’t recognize which parts should be combined together. This is where the early use of DFMA software becomes critical. The DFA software component quantifies assembly efficiency and provides suggestions for re-design that in many cases also improve the product’s performance
Additionally, the theoretical minimum number of parts is calculated to help the user understand what the total potential for part consolidation might be. Once DFA re-designs are proposed, the should-cost of each iteration can quickly be compared with the DFM software component. By combining the use of DFA and DFM software a development team can capture the full benefits of Product Simplification.