There is a process most companies go through before deciding on how to create and assemble a product, and this is called DFA (Design For Assembly). Traditionally, DFA wasn’t considered in the creation process of new products; however, the invention of assembly machines created the need to rethink how to produce items on a large scale. Usually, independent companies that create small batches of unique work do not factor DFA into their creation process. When considering DFA, a company must ask itself a few questions:
- How many parts need to be assembled?
- How hard will it be to assemble the pieces?
- How much is your budget for assembly?
- How much energy are you comfortable using?
Researchers at the Hitachi Group (a Japanese electronic conglomerate) came up with a system to evaluate DFA numerically. They dubbed this system AEM (Assembly Evaluation Method). Simply put, the method works like this: there is one motion for one part. In essences this is a point loss system, where you subtract points lost for a final number. This method of evaluation was created with the intention of rating automated assembly machines.
It wasn’t until the year 1977 that Geoff Boothroyd, who was researching at UMA (University of Massachusetts Amherst),was given a grant to continue developing DFA. One of his main goals was to figure out the estimated length of time manual assembly would take. He also began creating pricing for costs of automated assembly machines. He had quickly understood that the way to drop cost of assembly is to simplify and reduce the amount of parts that need to be assembled. He was able to create text, graphs, and charts that demonstrated different time and cost. Boothroyd came up with three guidelines to consider when thinking about DFA. The guidelines allow designers to contemplate parts that could theoretically be removed from a product. In terms of automated assembly, these guidelines could help to figure out the total cost of automating feeding, as well as orienting, and insertion. What can be done to reduce all three and bring down assembly cost?
Automated Assembly Machinery
Techniques continued to be developed, and throughout the 80s and 90s alterations to DFA and AEM were made. There is the Lucas method, Westinghouse method, and a few others, but they are all based on the original DFA method. When talking about all you can call them design for assembly methods
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