Manufacturing System Design Decomposition™

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Research objectives of the MSDD

Manufacturing system design must satisfy numerous objectives from a variety of disciplines: manufacturing strategy, product development, equipment design, human work system design, operations management, supply chain. Successful manufacturing system design requires to structure the numerous objectives. Furthermore, "best practices" in manufacturing system design are often difficult to apply without understanding the underlying objectives, which the "best practices" try to achieve. Thus, the first goal of the MSDD is:

1. Clearly separate objectives from the means of achievement

The clear separation of objectives and means allows designers to relate system details to the manufacturing system objectives. For example, manufacturing cells provide a means to satisfy numerous system objectives. However, implementing manufacturing cells without relating the use to system objectives may not lead to the desired outcome. The approach presented here allows the freedom to select among different physical implementation alternatives. The key point is to define and then achieve the desired set of objectives, regardless of the physical implementation.

Another important aspect in manufacturing system design is to keep objectives in mind throughout the design process from preparation to detailed design to execution. However, it is often very difficult to relate low-level decisions to high-level objectives. As a result, there is the danger of local optimization. The second objective of the MSDD is therefore:

2. Relate low-level activities and decisions to high-level goals and requirements

The system designers must be able to relate low-level decisions to the high-level system objectives. For example, equipment can greatly influence the way the manufacturing system is designed and operated (see illustrative example). Thus, it is necessary that the designers understand how the selected equipment will achieve higher-level system design goals.

Lower-level decisions not only affect the achievement of higher-level goals, but the decisions also interrelate with other lower-levels decisions. For example, equipment selection influences the man-machine interface; changeover times affect possible run sizes. The manufacturing system design approach must provide a means to understand the interrelationships between design decisions to avoid local optimizations. The third objective is:

3. Provide a means to understand the interrelationships among the different elements of a system design

Since manufacturing system design requires the interaction of multiple disciplines, it is important to provide a platform for effective communication. For example, the interface between the operator and the machine requires ergonomically knowledge and detailed mechanical considerations. Even more problematic is the communication of abstract objectives to operational targets or design specifications. The fourth objective of the MSDD is:

4. Provide a means to effectively communicate information across the organization

Unless there is a common mental map and a common means to communicate objectives and means there can be no consistency in implementation within an organization. System designers need a road map or mental model of how to achieve the strategic objectives of a firm.


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David S. Cochran, PhD.

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