Original Date: 02/01/1991
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Concurrent Engineering
Litton Guidance and Control Systems Division (GCSD) began teaming between manufacturing and engineering personnel in the early 1980s. In the initial effort, manufacturing personnel attempted to define certain design rules based on lessons learned during production experience. However, with little acceptance by Engineering, any concurrence between Engineering and Manufacturing depended on the initiative of the individual Program Engineer.
In-depth concurrent engineering eventually resulted from a combination of initiatives. The first initiative was the incorporation of the DOD 4245.7-M Best Practice templates into Litton GCSD’s internal policies, procedures, and processes. Working level Total Quality Management (TQM) teams were then established to review, modify, or formulate these Policies, Procedures, and Processes. Today, Litton GCSD has an aggressive program to institutionalize concurrent engineering within its business practices.
There are several examples of teams that have been formed to review and streamline long established processes and procedures. A team comprised of Software Development and Software Quality Assurance engineers reviewed, updated, and modified the Software Manual over a nine-month period. This manual was a compendium of all procedures for implementing software engineering at Litton GCSD. Another example is provided by a multi departmental team which reworked and simplified the procedure and forms associated with the Litton GCSD Engineering Change system. The results included a significant reduction in processing time; reductions in the number of required forms and signatures; and fewer errors from data reentry. Processing costs were also cut between 25% to 35%.
The Computer-Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) team provides another example of concurrent engineering. This team was composed of employees from throughout Litton GCSD. The team was responsible for developing a comprehensive plan and architecture for the incorporation of computer aided engineering (CAE) into the generation of digital data, its subsequent control, and its eventual use in downstream processes. The team was also responsible for conducting the difficult yet necessary economic analyses to show what payback would result from the extensive capital investment required to purchase and incorporate design automation tools and procedures. The CIM Team was ultimately accorded authority to review and approve or disapprove all budgetary requests for design automation equipment and tools.
On a program-specific basis, Litton GCSD now forms multi discipline teams which generate the total proposal and implement the program when and if funded. These proposal teams draw on a group of experts throughout Litton GCSD to ensure optimum consideration of program aspects such as customer requirements, technical approaches, manufacturing processes, quality control, customer support, and warranties.
Through collocation and shared responsibilities, GCSD is also improving the transition process to production which new technology has made more difficult. Manufacturing engineers are collocated with the design team, and although this process is often difficult and expensive, there is substantial reward potential.
Design responsibilities are shared by the manufacturing engineers, most specifically part producibility, including variability reduction. Additional responsibilities include testability. In this case, the manufacturing engineer writes the automatic test, and vibration and burn-in procedures, during full scale development. All test programs written during full scale development are in a standardized language and format to aid in testability. The assigned manufacturing engineer is also responsible for production cost reduction, as well as full drawing sign-off authority to ensure proper communication.
Production tooling is developed during full scale development, and is used to produce the last few engineering units. Production technicians are relocated during the end of full scale development to produce the remaining engineering units. These practices are especially effective when the product uses a new or unfamiliar technology.
New programs are now staffed with collocated, multi disciplined teams assembled for the duration of the design/development phase. Litton Guidance and Control Systems Division’s (GCSD’s) experience has shown that collocation of personnel is essential to the synergism from multiple viewpoints and experiences. Litton GCSD’s experience has also shown that personnel selected from outside the engineering department must be experienced senior personnel. By using these experienced and broad-based personnel, the goal of reducing producibility problems during production is realized.
The effects of these cultural changes are shown by the change history of three projects as a function of the number of years after the beginning of each project. Project X, represents a typical project initiated in 1986 before incorporation of the Best Practice templates or concurrent engineering principles. Project Y, represents a project begun in 1988 after incorporating the Best Practice templates but before concurrent engineering. Project Z, is a project begun in 1989 after incorporating the Best Practice templates and concurrent engineering. Project Y had less than one-third of the average number of changes per week compared to Project X. Project Z had 60 times fewer average number of changes per week compared to Project X.
Litton GCSD maintains that the benefits of adopting these cultural changes have been cost reduction, true schedule reduction, improved field quality and reliability, improved customer satisfaction, and an improved competitive position. In addition to these obvious benefits, Litton GCSD has also observed significantly enhanced communications and the breakdown of barriers between organizations; reduced level of employee frustration, cleaner designs, fewer changes and field problems; improved employee morale through team activities; and a solid base for expanded use of CAE through application of more advanced techniques such as automated design rules checks and artificial intelligence.
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