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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Robust Design (Taguchi Method) by Madhav S. Phadke

Robust Design method, also called the Taguchi Method, pioneered by Dr. Genichi Taguchi, greatly improves engineering productivity. By consciously considering the noise factors (environmental variation during the product’s usage, manufacturing variation, and component deterioration) and the cost of failure in the field the Robust Design method helps ensure customer satisfaction. Robust Design focuses on improving the fundamental function of the product or process, thus facilitating flexible designs and concurrent engineering. Indeed, it is the most powerful method available to reduce product cost, improve quality, and simultaneously reduce development interval.

1. Why Use Robust Design Method?
Over the last five years many leading companies have invested heavily in the Six Sigma approach aimed at reducing waste during manufacturing and operations. These efforts have had great impact on the cost structure and hence on the bottom line of those companies. Many of them have reached the maximum potential of the traditional Six Sigma approach. What would be the engine for the next wave of productivity improvement?

Brenda Reichelderfer of ITT Industries reported on their benchmarking survey of many leading companies, “design directly influences more than 70% of the product life cycle cost; companies with high product development effectiveness have earnings three times the average earnings; and companies with high product development effectiveness have revenue growth two times the average revenue growth.” She also observed, “40% of product development costs are wasted!”

These and similar observations by other leading companies are compelling them to adopt improved product development processes under the banner Design for Six Sigma. The Design for Six Sigma approach is focused on 1) increasing engineering productivity so that new products can be developed rapidly and at low cost, and 2) value based management.

Robust Design method is central to improving engineering productivity. Pioneered by Dr. Genichi Taguchi after the end of the Second World War, the method has evolved over the last five decades. Many companies around the world have saved hundreds of millions of dollars by using the method in diverse industries: automobiles, xerography, telecommunications, electronics, software, etc.

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