Concurrent Engineering

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Concurrent engineering is a work methodology based on the parallelization of tasks (i. e. performing tasks concurrently). It refers to an approach used in product development in which functions of design engineering, manufacturing engineering and other functions are integrated to reduce the elapsed time required to bring a new product to the market. A significant part of this new method is that the individual engineer is given much more say in the overall design process due to the collaborative nature of concurrent engineering.

Giving the designer ownership plays a large role in the productivity of the employee and quality of the product that is being produced. This stems from the fact that people given a sense of gratification and ownership over their work tend to work harder and design a more robust product, as opposed to an employee that is assigned a task with little say in the general process. [4] By making this sweeping change, many organizational and managerial challenges arise that must be taken into special consideration when companies and organizations move towards such a system.

From this standpoint, issues such as the implementation of early design reviews, enabling communication between engineers, software compatibility and opening the design process up to allow for concurrency creates problems of its own . [9] Similarly, there must be a strong basis for teamwork since the overall success of the method relies on the ability of engineers to effectively work together. Often this can be a difficult obstacle, but is something that must be tackled early to avoid later problems . 10] Similarly, now more than ever, software is playing a huge role in the engineering design process. Be it from CAD packages to finite element analysis tools, the ability to quickly and easily modify digital models to predict future design problems is hugely important no matter what design process you are using. However, in concurrent engineering software’s role becomes much more significant as the collaborative nature must take into the account that each engineer’s design models must be able to ‘talk’ to each other in order to successfully utilize the concepts of concurrent engineering.

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