Concurrent engineering is basically a product development method and is quite different from the traditional development approach as it employs simultaneous rather than sequential process. The companies implementing CE feel that by completing tasks in parallel product development is accomplished more efficiently and it also saves cost.
This is basically a management philosophy and any organization or company can implement this whether it small, medium or large. This is a systematic approach to the integrated concurrent design of products and their related processes including manufacture and support. The work is done through cross functional teams in which engineers and managers of different disciplines work together simultaneously in developing product and process design.
Basic motive of this approach is that it cause the developers from the outset to consider all elements of the product life cycle from concept disposal which includes terms like quality, cost, schedule and user requirements.
Concurrent engineering process is also known as iterative development method. It requires continual review of a team’s progress and frequent revision of project plans. The rationale behind this creative thinking is forward looking approach which is beneficial because errors can be discovered easily and they are less costly to correct at initial stages.
How to know whether the concurrent engineering is for a particular company or not?
The following factors help to determine this:-
If the company faces any kind of below given problem:-
If there is competitive pressure to develop new products.
If there exists any kind of delays in product launch.
Budget of developing product is higher than acceptable.
Customer requirements are not known clearly.
No transfer of knowledge from one product development project to the next.
Any kind of shifting of responsibility for product development from one function to another.
Above were the factors that enable us to determine that whether the company requires adopting the process of concurrent engineering for product development or not. It is very important to know that whether the company has ability to implement the process in there company. Belows are the factors that help to learn that whether the organization will be able to implement the required process in there company or not.
Is there willingness to change for improvement in the company?
Is senior management that committed and dedicated to work?
Able to encourage and support team work.
The above mentioned is the diagrammatic representation of process which includes product specification, concept, details, build-up, testing, manufacturing and selling too. The processes as shown in the diagram are two way processes errors are also simultaneously checked as thus its name is concurrent process.
Key features of concurrent engineering
DESCRIPTION OF CE
This is a systematic approach to the integrated product development which emphasizes response to customer expectations and embodies team values of cooperation, trust and sharing in such a manner that decision making proceeds with large intervals of parallel working by all life-cycle perspectives synchronized, by comparatively brief exchanges.
Things are done simultaneously
Process is the main focus
Company is open to change
Needs of customers, suppliers, quality control, marketing, sales and manufacturers are balanced and prioritized.
GOALS OF CE
Leads to improved profits
Sales and profits from new products are raised
Leads to reduction of human and capital costs
Maintains or increases product quality
Promotes team spirit and different departments come together
SCOPE OF CE
The process change is implemented within 1-2 years.
Involvement of people with stakes in new products
Focus is basically on process improvements.
STRATERGIC BENEFITS OF CONCURRENT ENGINEERING
CE is a management philosophy which is dedicated to the improvement of customer satisfaction through improved quality and reduced costs. The development time also reduces. Time to market also reduces and leads to reconciliation of conflicting requirements in product development.
DIFFICULTIES IN IMPLEMENTATION
Below are the difficulties which companies normally face while implementing CE:-
Implementation is a major challenge.
Cross functional change initiatives have high rates of failures.
It involves radical cultural change in an area that is extremely complex and pressurized.
If management does not support the employees or there is inadequate reward systems or say customers or supplier involvement is not good.
Computer aided designs and tools are no available.
If there are inadequate training and expertise.
If company faces difficulty in managing or controlling technical processes.
SUCCESS FACTORS IN IMPLEMENTING CE
Gaining commitment of functional managers
Realignment of organizational processes and structures.
These projects are a popular way to achieve radical changes to current working practices on small organization, where conditions are controlled and are managed by seniors or project leaders. Introduction of pilot projects was done to reduce the scale of initial changes within organization and also to evaluate potential impact. By this method high levels of implementation cost, risk and time can be reduced.
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There are two sub-components of pilot projects. The first one is concerned with selection of right pilot. It is easier to select the appropriate project such that it is easy to demonstrate as success. But what happens in some organizations is that senior management is under time constraints and also sometimes the next project is classified as project. There are organizations that select pilot projects that are of low risk to organization and this is mainly done to reduce overall failure.
The second sub component deals with the visibility and promotion of the project within the internal organization. Mostly the organizations consider pilot project as high profile. This leads to organizations profit margins, creates newness to market and senior management’s efforts in internally symbolizing the project by the usage of posters, newsletters and all these activities improves overall competitive market position.
Change agents demonstrate the senior management understanding of the amount of time and effort required in implementation of concurrent engineering successfully. Internal change agents include engineering champions, product champions, and organized change teams of individual from different levels of the organization containing both part time and full time members. Some have hierarchical change agents. It helps to change people’s values and behaviors.
Concurrent engineering involves the process of bringing together knowledge and expertise from different areas in early phases of product development process. Team development leads to improvement of informal communication and functional integration.
The team members and leaders selection is done in informal and unstructured manner. This involves two important processes; team engagement is the very first process includes how team members and leaders are selected and how they are located to work as a team unit. The second process is of empowering the team to carry out its product development activities successfully. The two main elements are assignment of new roles and responsibilities for team members and leaders.
Tenure of Team Leader and Team Member
Functional skills and expertise are not required at a consistent level throughout the project and in most organizations the combination of full-time and part time team members.
The permanent collocation of core team members from different functional departments and the team leaders and dispersion of the extended team members was the most prevalent method of improving multi-disciplinary interaction.
Team empowerment incorporates clarifying team leaders and roles of team members and their responsibilities. Sometimes team leader’s roles and responsibilities are generated through forma methods. The main purpose is to clarify the team members and leaders their roles and responsibilities within team working environment.
In some of the organizations this is done basically to keep the employees focused and thus help them achieve there objective. This proves to be quite beneficial in the two early product development stages that are product specification and project plan.
GAINING COMMITMENT OF FUNCTIONAL MANAGERS
In organizations senior management and internal change agents tended to use functional managers to gain information. In some of the cases educators and informants of concurrent engineering are assigned home functions.
REALIGNMENT OF ORGANISATIONAL PROCESSES AND STRUCTURES
The changes are implemented in following areas:-
Introduction to process improvement teams
Education and training for teams
Reward and recognition system
Methods to transfer team knowledge
EXTRA ROLES OF CONCURRENT ENGINEERING
Over the last few years, there are many government sponsored and intiated studies have highlighted the need for the improvement of efficiency and competitiveness of the UK construction industry.
This is done because it leads to reduce costs, project durations, improved quality, project procurement practices that are used in UK construction industry.
It brings together multi disciplinary teams in which project developers from different areas work together and parallel.
These cross functional contains systems engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, systems producibility.
This process incorporates everything also the purchasing, marketing, production, quality assurance, the field and other functional groups.
The implementation of CE involves three main areas which are people, process and technology. It includes major organizational changes because it requires the integration of people, business methods and technology.
It has greater role in concurrent engineering in Weapon System Acquisition.
There is greater role of concurrent engineering in human resource management.
It is useful as a collaborative method for educational projects in engineering education.
Role in education project is that it helps in setting up clear goal and define project boundaries for students and teachers, it helps define good structures for information handling, especially for supervisors and introduce a client role that continuously could define project requirements.
There is greater role of concurrent engineering in the purchasing power.
Companies that have implemented concurrent engineering report that they are producing higher quality products at lower costs and in less time than they were able to previously.
It involves self management and leadership.
CE plays an important role in product modeling.
It also plays a vital role in system engineering management.
EXAMPLES OF CONCURRENT ENGINEERING
General electric aircraft engines division’s uses concurrent engineering for the development of engine. The teams achieved greater percentage reductions in design and procurement cycle times during full scale component tests.
Second example is that of Boeing’s Ballistic Systems Division where concurrent engineering was used in 1988 to develop a mobile launcher and was able to reduce design by 40% and cost by 10% in building proto-type.
Third example can be of Polaroid’s Corp’s Captiva instant camera which is again the result of concurrent engineering.
Concurrent engineering practitioners claim that this design management system offers several benefits.
Concurrent Engineering leads to:
Improved customer satisfaction
Reduced new product development time
Reduced time to market
There are some drawbacks associated with the initial implementation of concurrent engineering, including the need for considerable organizational restructuring and extensive retraining of workers.
Such potentially disruptive changes and added work requirements may be met with resistance from managers and other employees.
Also, there are usually considerable difficulties in transferring data among employees in different departments, which may require the additional tracking software applications. In addition to these significant up-front investments, organizations pursuing a concurrent engineering work model must typically wait several years before seeing the benefits of this transition.
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