and six sigma initiatives in their internal
training program. Over time, as the global
enterprise grew more complex and the
product portfolio expanded, engineering
procedures evolved to keep pace — but
not always in sync. "While every design
center was using the software, each site
had a different way of applying it to devel-opment," says Darrell. "So in 2012, we
formed a global DFA team and worked to
come up with a unified process."
Darrell, along with colleague Chris Foley,
a process engineer for new product development, led the initiative. Together, they
honed in on a calculation from the software, the DFA index, as a key measure of
overall product design. The index is arrived
at by dividing an ideal assembly time by
the actual assembly time, where an ideal
assembly is defined as having a theoretical
minimum number of parts (sidebar).
"DFA shows what parts are required by
product function and what parts can be
eliminated," says Foley. "It illustrates how
you can achieve significant cost avoidance
by identifying opportunities for simplification of product structure."
Creating Product Families
While the DFA index provides a data-driv-
en way of measuring new product designs
and tracking improvement during rede-
sign, it is useful if comparisons can also
be made between the designs of different
is better to
So they decided
to divide the company's
extensive portfolio into a
series of product families and then
calculated a DFA index family range for
each product grouping.
For starters, they separated legacy
Motorola products from Symbol's original
product lines, and once families were cre-
DFA methodology. This gave the engineer-
ing team a DFA index for every product
and a range (and average) for each family
or sub-family (Figure 1). They also calcu-
lated a DFA index for
These metrics helped
the global team identify
how close designs were
to the company's best-in-class goal, and gave
them a target to shoot at
when looking to quantify
whether their products
The next step was to
realign the company's
groups. So Darrell
embarked on a world
tour of the design centers to retrain teams and
In order to sustain
and Foley instituted a
weekly, ongoing global
meeting with teams
from all participating
centers. Included are
experts from design,
operations. "We have
the mechanical, process, and quality engineers on the call," says
Foley. "We also have
the electrical and software experts and a participant from purchasing as well. There are representatives
from every discipline."
Working with cross-disciplinary groups
and using baseline DFA index values has
improved the efficiency of the product
development process enterprise-wide, says
Foley. "In the beginning of a program, for
example, we might be worried about cost,"
he adds. "We might remember that this
family of products had high-cost drivers in
labor or maybe some unnecessary parts.
Using DFA, we can look back and at the
same time think ahead to avoid those sorts
of problems. The tool really helps with
these design discussions."
DFA not only focuses engineers on concrete improvements—such as snap-fits,
modularization, or fewer connectors—
according to Darrell, it also helps the
Motorola Solutions team keep up with rapidly developing communications and computer advances, which are integral to many
of their units. This includes the design
changes needed to adopt technologies
such as digital imaging for data capture or
Bluetooth. "We need to look at tomorrow's
technology today," Darrell adds.
In addition, DFA is instrumental in all
three stage-gated phases of the company's
design process—from "concept" to "criti-cal" through the "final" phase, says Darrell.
"As we initiate a redesign or new design
project, we're always trying to improve,"
he adds. "Our goal is to be within the index
range, or better."
Measuring for Management
If a product has an index lower than the
target, it immediately triggers questions at
all levels, generating targeted scrutiny and
redesign activities early in the development cycle.
As part of reporting, Darrell also tabulates
the financial benefits the software delivers. "If we come up with a savings of one
dollar per unit, and we make one hundred
thousand units a year, then we saved the
company $100,000 by using DFA upfront,"
As a result, Darrell reminds the global
team of the hidden costs of adding on
parts in all design meetings.
It's a well-documented fact (becoming
engineering dogma), that the majority of
expenses in a manufacturing organization
originate from the designs of its products.
Laser-based 5 4. 6 15. 6 10. 3
Imager-based 6 7. 3 15. 3 10. 8
Imager-based 1 14. 9 14. 9 14. 9
Laser-based 2 10. 9 16. 4 13. 7
Imager-based 1 14. 7 14. 7 14. 7
Laser-based 2 10. 6 14. 4 12. 5
Mini-Kiosk 2 3. 2 5 4.1
Slotscanners 1 2 2 2.0
Retail 2 11. 2 19. 5 15. 35
LightIndustrial 3 6. 9 10. 4 8. 7
Industrial 8 9. 5 15. 3 12.80
Retailw/WAN na na na na
Light Industrial w/WAN 2 12. 3 19. 6 15.95
Industrialw/WAN 4 13. 4 18. 5 14. 9
Headsets 1 4. 3 4. 3 4. 3
SmartBadges 1 12. 8 12. 8 12. 8
Tablets 1 10. 6 10. 6 10. 6
Figure 1: Using Design for Assembly software, DFA indices were calculated
for products in Motorola Solution's scanner (top) and mobile-computing
(bottom) product families. Those values were then used to arrive at ranges
and averages for each product family, which serve as goals for future new
design and redesign programs.