Automotive Tier 1 suppliers squabble for space in the highly competitive auto market by providing high quality products and services to major OEM’s. The success of these companies is highly dependent on timely delivery of quality products to their customers. Any delay affects not only the project schedule and delivery, but also the reputation of the supplier with the risk of losing business. Coupled with the ever-changing landscape of automotive with newer design and manufacturing techniques, materials, and customers spread across the globe, there is tremendous pressure on these companies to deliver cutting edge products on time with minimal quality issues.
One such automotive supplier faced a critical issue related to production of fuel tanks which led to a downtime of one month due to a faulty design. The complexity of the design and time pressures resulted in a quality escape resulting in loss of revenue and delays in the release. The issue arose when two of the key fuel tank designs escaped the manual validation process for quality and DFX (Design for Manufacturing, Design for Assembly, …).
The below snapshot shows the complex region in question on the fuel tank design with hundreds of rib features that led to the problems.
Faulty component that led to loss of revenue and time
During the manual validation, the design engineer missed checking two ribs for base/tip radii. As per standards, it is critical to ensure the right radius for ribs to reduce stress without increasing the wall thickness thus avoiding cooling issues. However, given the sheer large number of ribs on the design and added time pressures to release the part quickly for manufacturing, the design engineer missed adding the defined radius to these two ribs. As a result, when the part reached the manufacturing line, the two ribs without radius failed during manufacturing which led to critical delays. Due to this, the efforts required to identify the cause of failure and fix resulted in a downtime of one month. This led to delay in delivering fuel tanks to the customer and loss of revenue.
This incident led the supplier into looking for an automated DFX solution to help identify and correct such critical quality issues right during design stage. DFMPro was identified as a solution and when the fuel tank designs in PTC Creo Parametric were analyzed using DFMPro, it resulted in quick identification of the two ribs that were missing radii. The overall validation time was cut short from few days to minutes and helped the designers to identify these critical high cost errors quickly and fix them right during design.
DFMPro rules for correct RIB designs on plastic parts
With these findings, the Auto supplier could avoid such instances in future projects and save millions of dollars. This investigation prompted them to implement a robust DFX methodology as part of design process using the powerful analysis framework of DFMPro. DFMPro validation on all outgoing designs before manufacturing was mandated across design groups. Tooling information from machine shops making these complex injections molded parts was collated in DFMPro and provided upfront to design engineers for quick reference. Each design release accompanied a DFMPro report highlighting that each part was thoroughly investigated for manufacturability before being released for downstream processes. As a result, the supplier benefited from savings in opportunity cost, rework reduction preventing critical release delays thus eliminating the likelihood of similar issues in the future and enhancing their reputation among its peers.
DFMPro provides an extensible platform for organizations to build on top of the existing set of DFX guidelines. DFX is an initiative widely identified across industry spectrum as a critical area for efficiency improvement, cost reduction and reduction in time to market. Organizations can implement efficient DFX strategies to counter wide variety of challenges such as design quality, supplier collaboration, reduction in engineering change orders due to problems in the field and knowledge drain.
Stay tuned for more such stories on how DFMPro helped customers in solving some of their critical problems. Learn more at www.dfmpro.com to understand how implementation of DFMPro can help you save time and reduce product cost by implementing upfront robust and efficient DFX methodology using our extensible DFX framework.