By: Michael Russell

When many people who are in charge of logistics look at how to improve their work, they are mostly concerned with speeding up the transportation of parts and decreasing machine time. One thing that many logistics people forget is that the actual design of the product can make a difference to how difficult it is to produce and machine. A good design not only focuses on how well the product will appear to the consumer on the open market, but it also places importance on how easy it is to machine the product. Many of the things that logistics managers worry about such as machine time and process automation, the design engineer should worry about also. When designing a particular product, the level of difficulty for machining and the easiness of implementing an automated machining process should be considered.

There are countless ways in which a designer can design his product so that the design has a positive influence on that particular logistical process. First, the designer can control which materials the product is made from. This is the possibly the biggest impact the designer can have on the logistics process. If the designer picks materials that are easy to machine and easy to acquire then this will obviously affect the logistics process positively. When the designer picks the proper materials, he can reduce machine usage time, reduce machine set up time and minimize transportation costs of materials. Therefore, if we look at the design process in depth we can clearly see that the design engineers have a huge influence on how smoothly the logistical system can run.

A simple example of this would be that suppose that the design engineer is making plans for the production of mechanical pencils. Now besides the basic design criteria of price range and large variances in quality (the difference between a forty cent Bic pencil and a seven dollar Dr. Grip pencil) there are enormous characteristics of the pencil that the design engineer can control that will affect the logistics process of the production of this particular product. The designer controls what material the pen is made out of, he controls how big it is, he controls how many parts there are and he controls the shape of the part. Having a flashy cap, may seem like a minor improvement to make the pen more aesthetically appealing, but in fact it may be a major impedance to the quick, cheap and effective manufacture of the pen. There are countless other small tradeoffs that the designer can make that would make the logistical process much easier. The designer could use acrylic instead of garolite for inside parts of the pen and he could use steel instead of aluminum for the frame of the pen.

Many people believe that logistics is solely in the hands of those who are specifically assigned to look over the particular production system. However, this is simply not the case, logistics is in the hands of everybody who has a part in the design of a product. Design for manufacture and for assembly are big parts of the design process and can not be ignored when looking at the logistical and manufacturing process.

About Author:

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Logistics

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