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Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA)

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It is estimated that 70 - 80% of product development and manufacturing cost is determined in the design stage.  This principle also applies in construction and importantly, from an industrialisation perspective, it must be recognised this issue is not just about product design, but also about: designing efficient processes that will apply throughout the production/manufacturing process; transportation to site; and assembly on site.  Many call this Design for Manufacture and Assembly or DFMA.  Add to this the use of standardised designs, modular construction and digital engineering through tools such as BIM and we can see why the construction sector is currently experiencing a revolution in its approach to design.

By definition the design process is the transformation of an idea, needs, or wants by consumers or the marketplace at large into a product that satisfies these needs.  In the arena of construction industrialisation and the challenge that is set in the UK Construction 2025 Strategy to reduce costs, carbon and lead times this means rethinking our approach to construction of buildings and infrastructure from the design stage right through to occupation and end of asset re-use.

So whilst the benefits of good design are many, numerous companies have learned the hard way that rushing design causes delays and increases costs later in the project. Of course if we get this design process wrong we;

  • May fail to meet customer or performance expectations;
  • May not be able to be built without expensive changes;
  • Face project delays and cost overruns;
  • Risk employees and customer safety; or
  • Damage our reputation, risk losing future projects and face potential legal costs and fines.

Key terms: Building Information Modelling or BIM, Design for Manufacture and Assembly or DFMA, Voice Of the Customer or VOC, Requirements Flow-down Model, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis or FMEA.