Producibility Element Highlighted:
Identify Key Characteristics
Lockheed Martin Electronics & Missiles has adopted an approach called Key Characteristics and Variability Reduction in its quoting, design, and manufacturing processes as part of the company's continuous improvement efforts. This approach has enabled Lockheed Martin to translate critical customer requirements into detailed specifications, facilitating the separating of "critical few" from "trivial many" product features.
In the past, Lockheed Martin Electronics & Missiles followed the classical approach of defining the system requirements, conducting a tradeoff analysis, assigning component requirements, and detailing the resultant specifications. However, this did not support the desired practice of focusing efforts on the few critical attributes, while allowing standard practice to accommodate the non-essentials of the design.
Acknowledging that it would be extremely difficult to conduct variability reduction techniques on all the variables of all the products/processes involved, Lockheed Martin Electronics & Missiles identifies the relatively few high-level critical features of any design. Each of these features, in turn, could have many crucial components contribute to the
overall criticality, but the analysis greatly reduces the field of consideration.
Once the critical features are identified, variability reduction and the resulting statistical tracking are applied. Process capability studies and a tradeoff analysis are conducted to determine which machines/processes can achieve the required key characteristics.
One result of using this methodology was the invention of a variability reduction flag being incorporated into Lockheed Martin Electronics & Missiles' drawing packages and procurement documentation. This flag indicates to both subcontractors and their own shop floors which geometric features are absolute "must-haves" and which features they can apply the knowledge of their trade to modify for ease of manufacture. This effort provides a substantial benefit to the design process by allowing the original equipment manufacturer to provide input up front. It also greatly reduces the number of Engineering Change Proposals that follow any new design.