Original Date: 01/23/1995
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Concurrent Engineering in the Recode System & Thermal Batteries
Two programs at Sandia National Laboratories highlight what can be achieved using the concurrent engineering process. This approach was demonstrated in the successful development of thermal batteries and the Air Force's Strategic Command Secure Recode System.
Sandia was faced with a decreasing customer base which required a new look at the process used to develop thermal batteries. Historically, they were designed for a specific application, then passed to the production staff for fabrication. Stockpiled units were returned to the design group for analysis at a later date. Utilizing the concurrent engineering approach, Sandia created PRTs consisting of the customer, systems engineers, technologists, design and development engineers, manufacturing engineers, and test engineers. A Design and Manufacturing Guide was created to specify standard processes and materials available for use in the product design. This effort was coupled with a formal review process to enable Sandia to maintain the technology base and product quality at a reasonable price in a declining market.
In the case of the Secure Recode System, Permissive Action Link controllers were traditionally developed in the design, manufacture, test sequence. Sandia addressed the cultural resistance to change between themselves, their customers, and their suppliers. Teaming was difficult as all participants learned to appreciate others' needs and to understand the individual values added to the product.
Once the Core Team was established, a QFD approach to concurrent engineering was initiated. The unit price was decreased from $290,100 to $31,578, three separate units worked the first time they were powered up after production, and only one development build and one process prove-in build were performed prior to production. The results of the concurrent engineering approach to this problem demonstrate that the team members shared a common goal. Representing the various disciplines early in the development paid off in a greatly reduced number of iterations necessary for production. Also, empowerment of the team to resolve problems resulted in a reduced number of deviations upon production.
These two projects highlight not only the benefits of concurrent engineering in product development, but also Sandia's commitment to addressing the realities of today's market with innovative solutions that meet or exceed customer expectations at a reasonable price.
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