Design for eXcellence

Unit 1: Introduction to DfX

Section 3: Other Design for Xs

Although Design for Manufacture and Design for Assembly are the most widely used, there are other Design for Xs that designers frequently consider. The use of these guidelines is the same – gather knowledge by consulting experts in the field, and use this during the design phases. There are many guidelines and which of those are appropriate will depend on the product and its intended use, including its environment and eventual disposal. Presented below are Design for Environment, Design for Maintainability and Serviceability, and Design for Low Cost, together with sample guidelines for each.

Section Contents

Design for the Environment

This aspect of product design is becoming increasingly important with the emergence of the European Union Directive on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) have been developed to address the measurement and continuous improvement of processes in relation to emissions, energy usage and the minimisation of waste and materials. This aspect of organisational management is defined in standards documents such as ISO 14001. Certification to this standard is becoming increasingly important to electronics companies.

There are also a number of software tools that can help analyse a product’s impact on the environment throughout its life. Named Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) systems, these tools will generate a score for each product analysed, so that a company may assess the relative merits of each product and compare them with previous versions.

When generating DfE guidelines, thought should be given to the processes used for manufacture, any waste during its use and the final disposal of the product.

Sample guideline list:

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Design for Maintainability and Serviceability

Field service and logistics staff should be actively involved in the product design process so that aspects of service and maintenance are addressed. A product that is well designed for maintenance can save a great deal of money in its later life.

In some products (for example, plant equipment essential to a manufacturing line) maintainability may be one of the highest priorities, but it should be considered for all products, even if the eventual decision is that a product should not be repaired but simply scrapped if a failure occurs. Areas for consideration might include:

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Design for Procurement

In Design for Procurement, product designers work effectively with suppliers and sourcing personnel to identify and incorporate technologies or designs that can be used in multiple products, facilitating the use of standardised components to achieve economies of scale and assure continuity of supply.

You won’t find too much of help from a web search, so the only way to obtain Design for Procurement guidelines is to speak to component procurement and sourcing staff, try to understand the issues they face and the problems they encounter, and discuss how to prevent these. Some guidelines are:

Finally, bear in mind that assemblers always prefer to start with a ‘clean kit’, containing all the parts needed to complete a build. It is much more expensive to add even one missing component at the end of the process, and there may also be unreliability implications in doing so. ‘For the want of a shoe . . .’!

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Design for Reliability

Using simulation tools at an early stage in the product design process can model the performance of each component and module at the extremes of its environmental and manufacturing specifications. This is something that cannot be done using prototypes, so it provides a valuable insight into the reliability and repeatability of a product once it has entered manufacturing.

Areas that should be considered under this topic include:

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Design for Obsolescence

Rather than reinvent the wheel, we are encouraging you to obtain a superb article on component obsolescence from the EDN Access website at

  1. Go to the Archives and select the year 2002

  2. Under 4th Quarter click on November 14th 2002

  3. Choose the article Guarding against component obsolescence by Graham Prophet.

This gives a comprehensive description of obsolescence in the electronics industry which you can use as a resource for the following activity.

Design for Obsolescence

  • For what reasons will a component manufacturer make a product obsolete?
  • Traditionally, the military were the most concerned with obsolescence, due to the extended duty lives of military products (usually more than a decade). This has changed, and consumer electronics manufacturers are now just as concerned. What are the reasons for this?
  • What options do manufacturers have for replacing obsolete components?
  • What steps can an organisation take to prevent obsolescence?
  • Show Solution

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