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What Is Concurrent Engineering

Jul 15, 2008
Concurrent Engineering is theoretically defined as a systematic approach to the concurrent design of products and their related processes, including manufacture and support. It is an example of group decision making and negotiation that commonly occurs in organizations and involves many agents.

Concurrent Engineering is an evolving process that requires continuous improvement and refinement. It is well established as an approach to engineer product parts, however, the concept has a much broader application. Concurrent engineering is the simultaneous consideration of product and process downstream requirements by multidisciplinary teams.

Specialists from all disciplines, including reliability, maintainability, human factors, safety, logistics, business and management, whose expertise will eventually be represented in the product, have important contributions throughout the system life cycle.

Simply put, it is a business strategy which replaces the traditional product development process with one in which tasks are done in parallel and there is an early consideration for every aspect of a products development process.

This strategy focuses on the optimization and distribution of a firms assets in the design and development process to ensure effective, efficient and concurrent product development process to minimize duplicate or repeat effort and risk.

Concurrent Engineering is now widely accepted as an appropriate method for producing better products faster and for lower cost. Information sharing, conflict resolution and version management are three very important aspects of this process.

Using this business strategy, manufacturers will learn how they can electronically define their critical part attributes both purchased and manufactured, deliver inspection sampling plans to their vendors over the internet and manage the quality trends of each supplier. Paperless process planning allows entire work instructions with data collections to be imbedded directly onto drawings or solid models.

Manufacturers need information about inventory availability, machine uptime and down time, product cycle times, yield, waste, WIP and lot tracking and genealogy. They need information management tools in real time for continuous improvement and decision support, and Concurrent Engineering can help them achieve this.

Many leading manufacturers have made great strides in optimizing materials usage by implementing powerful supply chain applications, and thus streamlining their manufacturing and planning processes. This is largely because this strategy requires applications across all functions within the company to share and communicate information. Each application used in the product development process needs to be linked to the rest.

Thus, this strategy has enabled many organizations to improve their product development, production, and product support and customer relationships. The evidence suggests that when a Concurrent Engineering approach is appropriately designed and implemented, organizational performance improves significantly, resulting in lower cost, improved product quality, reduction in cycle time and time to market, and improved utilization and coordination of human resources.
About the Author
iBASEt is a leading provider of high-tech software solutions and services. Learn more about Solumina, its Concurrent Engineering software online.
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