Design for assembly is a strategy that helps to structure and enhance the processes used in the design of a new product, often streamlining the number of components so that the assembly process is kept as simplistic as possible. As a result, it is possible to manufacture more units per hour of production, which in turn helps to reduce costs to the producer and increase the potential return on each unit sold. Considered an important component in maintaining an efficient business operation, design for assembly is used extensively during the design period to refine working models until they are feasible for mass production.
Along with creating a viable design that makes use of only essential parts, a design for assembly will also look closely at the number of steps needed to attach each of those components during the assembly process. A general rule of thumb is to make sure the process, whether automated or manual, can be accomplished with as few steps at each stage as possible. Here, the goal is to improve the speed of the assembly without creating any loss in quality for the finished product. Doing so means assembly line workers can quickly manage the addition of a component and allow it to pass on to the next phase of the assembly with a minimum amount of effort or time.
The use of a design for assembly approach does not stop once the product is established and running through an assembly line. Continued efforts may take place to further streamline the number of components used or even to reduce the number of steps involved with the installation of those components. This effort is sometimes aided by the development of new technology that makes it possible to combine steps into one fluid action requiring less time than the two steps utilized previously.
Companies benefit from employing a design for assembly approach by avoiding the creation of an assembly process that is somewhat cumbersome and increases the expenses associated with producing the product. Employees involved with the assembly process also benefit, since the design for assembly strategy often provides specific instructions in how to perform the required tasks, and keeps those tasks as simple and quick as possible. Assuming the product attracts a steady base of customers, continuing to use the basics of design for assembly to refine both the product and the assembly process will help to keep expenses low and enhance the profitability of the manufacturer.