Original Date: 05/12/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Product Development: Wolfpack Process
Cincinnati Milacron competes in the plastics processing and metalworking markets. In 1985, the company started its Wolfpack Process within the Plastics Machinery Group which faced serious foreign competition. The immediate challenge was to establish low cost, high quality products with a short lead time, while the immediate goals were to use significantly fewer parts and lower the product cost. After subsequent revisions of the process, Cincinnati Milacron met its immediate goals and global challenge. The Wolfpack Process is now implemented company-wide.
The evolution to rapid product development was based on the teamwork and competitiveness typified by a wolf pack, hence the name. By recognizing the costs associated with delayed products, Cincinnati Milacron hastened the development of teams by replacing its earlier, sequential product design and development with concurrent engineering. Cross-functional teams were challenged and empowered to deal with the full scope of product development issues including the active integration of customers and suppliers into the process. As indicated in Figure 2-1, the team conducted trade-offs and prioritized recommendations based on the expected product life cycle.
The process uses defined project phases (feasibility; definition; concept; design and build; runoff and test; and production), each with established objectives and formal approvals to proceed. Incorporated within the Wolfpack Process are numerous procedural benefits such as requirements definition, top level support, team colocation, and risk analysis. While each benefit provides some intrinsic gain, the principal contribution is to enhance the strong sense of team within the participants.
By substantially integrating customers and suppliers into the Wolfpack Process, Cincinnati Milacron has directly improved its vendor quality while providing significant performance enhancements for its customers within cost targets. Figure 2-2 shows the significant parts reduction achieved for one of the company’s recent machine tool product designs.
Figure 2-1. Product Development Trade-Offs
Figure 2-2. Part Content Comparison
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