Producibility Elements Highlighted:
Incorporate Producibility into New Product Introduction
Recognize the Need for Management Commitment
Implement a Risk Management Program
In the first quarter of 1997, ITT Industries Aerospace/Communications Division (ITT A/CD) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was faced with starting 15 new programs. Previously when a contract was awarded, the departments would scramble to get resources; define budgets and schedules; and haphazardly start production. Departments tended to work independently with little coordination among themselves. With limited advanced planning and no formalized process, the introduction of new programs often lacked well-executable steps, dedicated resources, adequate funding, program
objectives, and launch schedules. As a result, new program launches were unsuccessful, resulting in false starts, low yield rates, high defect rates, missed schedules, excessive costs, and interruptions in new and existing production. In 1997, ITT A/CD established the Program Launch process as an organized method to ensure that budgets, schedules, resources, equipment, facilities, and materials required for launching new programs are identified, planned, and implemented prior to production.
Upon contract award, the Program Launch process begins. The steps include assembling a core team of senior staff; interpreting the contract and plan; identifying key task leaders and training requirements; reviewing the technical baseline; updating the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) process; collaborating with senior staff and directors; establishing baseline/detailed schedules and budgets; identifying additional needs; and implementing the program. A program start-up checklist itemizes each action item, responsible member, plan date, and status. Approximately 80 people have received more than 20 hours of IPD training consisting of an overview, program launch procedures, effective meetings, a Microsoft Project video, electronic data management system accessibility, and other development tools as required (e.g., quality function deployment; requirements traceability and management; failure modes and effects analysis; decision making; risk management).
Elements key to a successful program launch include:
- Talking to the customer product line team and senior staff to clearly understand the goals of the program;
- Thinking about and interpreting these objectives;
- Collaborating with key task leaders and experts;
- Planning how to implement the program;
- Documenting the program clearly by using the IMP process to avoid misunderstandings due to trickle-down information and hand-offs;
- Concurring with key task leaders and senior staff;
- Launching the program by using the IMP process as the core team's implementation plan and contract with senior staff.
ITT A/CD's Program Launch process provides a smoother method to launch new programs. Currently, the company's baseline launch period for a new program is 65 days with a goal set for 60 days. Success relies on
assembling a staff early, providing forecast training, establishing plans before starting work, and updating requirement documents.