A Product Architecture-based Conceptual DFA Technique
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A conceptual design for assembly (DFA) method is introduced in this paper. The method incorporates DFA analysis into the conceptual design phase. Current DFA methods, essentially all of which are post-design DFA analyses, are reviewed with emphasis on the popular Boothroyd and Dewhurst method. The product architecture-based conceptual DFA method developed and presented in this article uses two relatively new concepts: the functional basis and the method of module heuristics. The functional basis is used to derive a functional model of a product in a standard language and the module heuristics are applied to the functional model to identify a modular product architecture. The embodiment or form definition phase then attempts to solve each module with one part (or as few as possible). The critical advantage of the conceptual DFA method is that it does not require a physical prototype or completed design geometry, thus reducing the number of design iterations before seeing DFA benefits. One case study compares the conceptual DFA method with the Boothroyd and Dewhurst DFA method and shows their equivalence in part count reduction. A second case study examines the evolution of products over the years. This study reveals the evolution of products into designs with smaller part counts, closely matching the modules identified by the conceptual DFA method. This lends credence to the method proposed in this paper as a useful tool for reducing the design cycle time.