Spurring productivity through advanced design training
Training design engineers in Design for Failure Mode Effect Analysis has helped Delta-Q increase productivity and quality at the same time
January 14, 2013— Burnaby, British Columbia
Speed to market is critical in creating a new technology product, especially in industrial components. Parts must be delivered at the right time for the right price, and quality has to be guaranteed. It can be challenging to achieve all three of these missions—but thanks to a new process, Delta-Q is doing it.
Delta-Q provides battery charging and power conversion solutions to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Delta-Q's key capabilities include power electronics, embedded software and mechanical engineering. Its chargers are designed into golf cars, aerial work platforms, floor cleaners, utility vehicles and lift trucks.
As part of the company's continuous improvement process and in response to customers' demands for zero failures, the development team was tasked with setting a new benchmark in product reliability for a new charger known as the IC650. The firm implemented Design for Failure Mode Effect Analysis (DFMEA), a method used by engineers to document and explore ways in which a product design might fail in real-world use. The end result is meant to be a product with a much lower failure rate than would be possible without DFMEA.
Delivering better products faster
Delta-Q was facing the problem of needing to create deeper knowledge of DFMEA methodology, and the whole team saw the benefits in applying DFMEA principles to create the product their customers wanted.
So when the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) announced it would be launching a new Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program (DTAPP), Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) Walter Wardrop knew right away how Delta-Q could use the support: For a company like Delta-Q, training so many engineers would be prohibitively expensive. DTAPP could provide the assistance the firm needed.
"The collaboration between NRC IRAP and Delta-Q Technologies Corp. has enabled our firm to design better products more quickly. It's been great for productivity and it has laid the foundation for future growth."
— Guy Pearson, vice-president of engineering, Delta-Q
No more bottleneck
DTAPP represents a significant investment into the Canadian economy in an effort to increase the productivity growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises in Canada. With the program's support, Delta-Q was able to source and hire a specialist from India who spent several weeks training many of its engineers in DFMEA so the firm could apply the process consistently while maintaining or even improving productivity.
"From my point of view as an ITA, we were looking for two deliverables with this project," says Wardrop. "In the short term, how much more quickly was the design going to go through the facility if every engineer was on the same page in understanding DFMEA? In the long term, would the failure rate decrease substantially?"
It may be several years before a measurable change in the failure rate will be apparent. However, it's already evident that productivity has increased. It is a direct benefit to Delta-Q to have more people with a higher level of design knowledge, and may lead to more innovation, problem-solving and productivity increases.
Delta-Q's DTAPP project has sparked increased productivity and promise:
- The firm has already signed a new deal with a leading OEM of electric drive vehicles, with first-year sales from the new product projected at $4M in 2013 and doubling for year two—all from this single OEM contract win.
- Delta-Q engineers and designers now execute the DFMEA procedures as standard process in all new product development efforts.
Delta-Q's improved process is a great example of how support for productivity can quickly make a tremendous difference in a company's operations and prospects.
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