Very often, Zebulon Solutions’ Product Redesign services are involved with redesigning a product that is already at least partially designed. A lab prototype exists, or it may already be in production in low volumes. Yet often these products need to be redesigned to lower costs, improve manufacturability, optimize the supply chain, or even functional improvements. We can assess the existing design or partial design, analyze it for manufacturability, testability and the like, and then suggest or even do redesign work to dial in the product and get it ready to smoothly ramp into volume manufacturing.
We also can do product design from scratch.
Design assessments and reviewsOften times the entry point for Zebulon Solutions customer’s design project is via an independent design assessment. Any design team, no matter how skilled, no matter how senior, can benefit from having a second set of eyes review the project. And for teams whose expertise sits more in the R&D world than in the manufacturing world, having the productization perspective is even more important. Independent design assessment can range from a few hours by a small team to a detailed crawl-through by one or more experts for a week or more.
RedesigningContinuous improvement applies to designs too. There is rarely a design that a little extra elbow grease and effort will not improve. The secret of course is getting a return on investment (ROI) but it’s also a rare design that can’t be improved with a good ROI. Improvement can come in many forms:
- Lower cost (see below)
- Better manufacturability
- Shorter supply chain (lower inventory and other cash flow benefits)
- Better reliability
- Feature adds
- Bug fixes
Cost reductionsOne of the most important forms of redesign is the cost reduction redesign. Cost downs are critical to companies trying to compete, regardless of market, regardless even of volume. Lower costs enable higher margins, increased sales and / or more satisfied customers. Examples of cost reduction exercises include:
- Component level second sourcing
- Supply chain and logistics optimization
- Cost reduction analysis
- Cost reduction redesigns
- PCBA level
- Subsystem / system level
DFxDFx = Design for manufacturing / test / assembly / supply chain / cost. Basically design for everything. Zebulon Solutions provides two levels of DFx analysis:
- DFx Checklists to help identify areas that need a closer look
- Graybeard analysis—senior engineers who have been there / done that to carefully review new designs for issue
Design optimizationVery often—in truth the most common circumstance for us—our customers come in the doo r with a design that works. They’ve built five or ten, they’ve had customers test them out and they have a m arket identified. But the designs need to be optimized. And optimization is a huge tradeoff exercise because adding in the extra circuitry that increases reliability increases the product cost, while doing the hard tooling to drive down product costs has a large NRE bill attached to it and decreases flexibility downstream for design mods.
BOM generation and scrubbingMany of the redesign projects we work with have simple BOMs generated automatically from CAD tools from the electrical and mechanical engineering teams. Which means they are engineering BOMs, not manufacturing ready BOMs. This is where our cross-functional strengths come to play, because we can utilize our strong supply chain skills to help in design. And so we scrub these BOMs, adding in the fields that are important to the eventual manufacturing—costs at various volumes of course but also lead time, minimum order quantities, alternate vendors, etc. We also start looking for parts and vendors that fall into the “great for prototyping, not great for production” categories.
- LED Lighting: DFx Analysis
- Baby Product: Redesign
- Touchscreen: Firmware Redesign
- Sports Medicine Product: Independent Design Assessment