MCAD Tech News (#245)

16 Jul, 2008

Lean Product Development Gets Its Due

While lean production methods get more notoriety, lean product development also is starting to receive the attention it deserves.

By Jeffrey Rowe

Jeffrey Rowe photoMost of our readers are probably familiar with the terms and concepts of "lean manufacturing" or "lean production." These terms have been around for many years and their principles have been universally applied, but their greatest level of adoption has been in the automotive industry. What we in the United States now know as lean manufacturing is actually a generic term applied to the Toyota Production System (TPS). The TPS combines management philosophy and practices to form an integrated social-technical system at Toyota. The TPS organizes manufacturing and logistics for the automobile manufacturer, including interaction with suppliers and customers.

The main goals of the TPS are to design out and eliminate waste. While eliminating waste seems simple and clear, waste is often conservatively identified and inadequately addressed. TPS targets seven kinds of waste for improving the production process:

  • overproduction (production ahead of demand)
  • motion (people or equipment moving or walking more than is required to perform the processing)
  • waiting (waiting for the next production step)
  • conveyance (movement of products that is not required to perform the processing)
  • overprocessing (due to poor tool or product design)
  • inventory (all components, work-in-progress, and finished product not being processed)
  • correction (the effort involved in inspecting for and fixing defects with associated rework and scrap)

Although the TPS for manufacturing has received a lot of attention, just as important is how Toyota actually develops products, called Toyota's Product Development System (TPDS). Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Jeffrey Rowe is the principal of Cairowest Group, an independent industrial design, mechanical engineering, and technical communication consulting firm with offices in Colorado and Michigan. You can reach him by e-mail at or by phone at 719.221.1867.


Rewriting the Rules of PDM

By Kenneth Wong

Driving through the Lone Star State along Freeway 288, just before you come across the Old Spanish Trail, you'll pass a couple of elongated, single-story structures. They're part of the Houston headquarters of T3 Energy Services, which supplies well-control equipment for the oil and gas industry.

In 2000, after its mergers with Cor-Val and Preferred Industries, the company took on the name T3. That change marked the beginning of a decade of unprecedented expansion. T3 went on to acquire eight more businesses throughout the next eight years. And as the firm grew, so did its product portfolio.

Danny Wolfe, T3's engineering manager for pressure-control products, saw his CAD database swell with each new acquisition. At last count, he had six remote databases distributed between Houma, Louisiana, and Alberta, Canada — without an enterprise system that could integrate them into a unified whole.

Because some of the new companies T3 acquired were former competitors, Wolfe judged correctly that some duplicate parts and products were lurking in the CAD archives he'd inherited. The setup would give most IT managers heartburn. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

24th Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference
July 21-25, 2008
The CMSC is dedicated solely to users of portable, high-precision measurement technology used to inspect manufactured and assembled components on the factory floor. Read more »

19th Annual International Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium
August 4-6, 2008
Austin, Texas
The Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) Symposium provides a forum for technical exchange of research and development in all areas of liquid, solid, and gas phase SFF. Read more »

Webcast: Improving Data Management with Autodesk Productstream
August 20, 2008
11:00 a.m. CT
This Webcast will demonstrate how Autodesk Productstream can be used for file organization, design reuse, design revisions, 2D and 3D file viewing, and more. Presented by Applied Engineering. Read more »

Lean Product Development Conference
November 18-20, 2008
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers' Lean Product Development Conference is a three-day, high-level conference and a forum for sharing tools and best practices for incorporating lean principles in the product development process. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on