Concurrent Engineering

Concurrent engineering or Simultaneous Engineering is a methodology of restructuring the product development activity in a manufacturing organization using a cross functional team approach and is a technique adopted to improve the efficiency of product design and reduce the product development cycle time. This is also sometimes referred to as Parallel Engineering. Concurrent Engineering brings together a wide spectrum of people from several functional areas in the design and manufacture of a product. Representatives from R & D, engineering, manufacturing, materials management, quality assurance, marketing etc. develop the product as a team. Everyone interacts with each other from the start, and they perform their tasks in parallel. The team reviews the design from the point of view of marketing, process, tool design and procurement, operation, facility and capacity planning, design for manufacturability, assembly, testing and maintenance, standardization, procurement of components and sub-assemblies, quality assurance etc as the design is evolved. Even the vendor development department is associated with the prototype development. Any possible bottleneck in the development process is thoroughly studied and rectified. All the departments get a chance to review the design and identify delays and difficulties. The departments can start their own processes simultaneously. For example, the tool design, procurement of material and machinery and recruitment and training of manpower which contributes to considerable delay can be taken up simultaneously as the design development is in progress. Issues are debated thoroughly and conflicts are resolved amicably.

Concurrent Engineering (CE) gives marketing and other groups the opportunity to review the design during the modeling, prototyping and soft tooling phases of development. CAD systems especially 3D modelers can play an important role in early product development phases. In fact, they can become the core of the CE. They offer a visual check when design changes cost the least.
Intensive teamwork between product development, production planning and manufacturing is essential for satisfactory implementation of concurrent engineering. The teamwork also brings additional advantages ; the co-operation between various specialists and systematic application of special methods such as QFD (Quality Function Deployment), DFMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) and FMEA (Failure Mode and Effect Analysis) ensures quick optimization of design and early detection of possible faults in product and production planning. This additionally leads to reduction in lead time which reduces cost of production and guarantees better quality.