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Why DFSS?

It is said that only about 60% of new products launched in all industries are a success and about 45% of resources allocated to developing and commercialising new products go into products that are killed or fail to provide adequate financial return.  Some companies gave the following reasons:

  • Inadequate market analysis;
  • Product problems or defects;
  • Lack of effective marketing effort;
  • Higher costs than anticipated;
  • Competitive strength or reaction;
  • Poor timing of introduction;
  • Technical or production problems.

DFSS is a systematic methodology that optimises the design process to achieve Six Sigma performance and avoid some of the problems that cause new products to fail.

Operational vulnerabilities take variability reduction as an objective and are primarily the purpose of  Six Sigma.   On the contrary, the conceptual vulnerabilities are usually overlooked because of the following:

  • lack of a compatible systemic approach to find ideal solutions;
  • ignorance of the designer;
  • the pressure of schedule deadlines; and
  • budget limitations.

This is because traditional quality methods can be characterized as after-the fact practices. Unfortunately, this practice drives design toward endless cycles of design-test-fix-retest, creating what is broadly known as the “firefighting” mode of operation. Companies who follow these practices usually suffer from high development costs, longer time to market, lower quality levels, and marginal competitive edge. In addition, corrective actions to improve the conceptual vulnerabilities via operational vulnerability improvement means are only marginally effective if at all useful as well as increasingly costly as design entity progresses in the development process. Therefore, implementing DFSS in the conceptual phase is a goal and can be achieved when systematic design methods are integrated with quality concepts and methods upfront.

Currently, industries are being forced to shorten lead times, cut development and manufacturing costs and lower total life-cycle cost (LCC), and thus there is a drive to develop strategies that will ensure good quality designs at the right cost and in the right time frame and DFSS is one of the key strategies.

It is often claimed that up to 80 percent of the total cost is committed in the concept development phase.  Thus the potential impact of improvement effort decreases as design progresses, implying reduced design freedom over time as financial resources are committed (e.g., buying production machines and facilities, hiring staff).

The DFSS methodology provides a strategy for businesses to follow that will lead them to “designing products and services right first time” and therefore introducing successful new product or services into the market.