FAQ about Quality during Design
The Types of Things we Talk About
Here are some of the most popular FAQ about Quality during Design and how we use quality and reliability in design engineering and new product development.
To make a quality product, we need to think about quality at every step of product design development. Yes, we do need to monitor and assess ongoing quality of what we do against a standard (like inspection). We also need to approach what we do and how we do it with quality goals in mind.
Each team needs to define quality based on their customers. The definition of quality for a fast-food restaurant is going to be different from one with Michelin stars. It’s not that the definition of Quality at one place is better than another. They’re different because they’re meeting different customer needs. They both serve customers daily, so there is a place for both.
Quality Systems are ways businesses define how work is done to ensure that quality products are created. It spans across the business departments like an umbrella. You are likely working within a Quality System at your company, and it affects how you work.
In product design, quality can be defined based on potential risks, reliability, and customer expectations and needs (both internal and external). An example of an internal customer is manufacturing: what design features do they need to be able to make the product consistently? We can define design features that are critical to quality.
Quality during Design highlights quality and reliability methods throughout the product development process. It layers, or weaves, into your current development process to get you information to make design decisions early (even in concept development before prototypes) and then throughout development.
Product Development FAQs
Quality during Design principles can be applied independent of the product development workflow style. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in a phased-gate, agile, waterfall, or any other combination of product development, the principles can fit.
Quality tools can be iterated, meaning we can continue to use them and evolve them to make more decisions as the design development progresses. We invest in them early and continue to use them later.
When we’re proactive with quality and reliability engineering methods, we learn more about the product earlier. Earlier is when we’re more able to react, adapt and change the product and project. Also, quality tools can provide some structure and focus to work sessions, helping teams do early concept development more easily.
It takes more teamwork up-front with payoffs at the end. More analyses mean more time up-front, but it should result in more meaningful discussions, decisions based on information and data, and more knowledge about what we’re designing before we start designing it. Early concept development and higher-quality products can improve design success which increases market share and profitability.
Cross-Functional Teams FAQs
People that describe their work within all these disciplines are intentional about designing for the users. They use different terms depending on the industry and where they work. The main takeaway is that we should be designing products for the people that use them: to make them safe, dependable, and easy to use. Quality and Reliability methods are also user-centric, their methods adding to the team’s toolbox for usability.
It’s best to talk with customers themselves. Engineers can ask their marketing or field operations teammates for input, including asking them to identify customers to bring into the design process and facilitating that relationship. Other sources of information include researching customer preferences, reviewing the complaints and feedback of our other products, and looking at what similar customers say about competitor products.
Quality and Reliability Engineers should be active in product design starting at concept development. We don’t want to keep the design a surprise or secret from others on the team. Rather, we reach out to them proactively to start working on concept designs together.
We should iteratively use FMEA as an input into our decisions, not only to evaluate the decisions we’ve already made. We analyze what we know as early as a design concept. Then, as we learn more about our product during development and as we make decisions about the design, we analyze it, again. Not all things need FMEA.
A Hazard Analysis is considered a top-down approach and is independent of any product failures. An FMEA is a bottom-up approach because we’re dividing the system, design, or process into parts and evaluating potential failures of that part.