Design for Manufacturability
Part 1: Theoretical Foundations
Mohamed A. Youssef
Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, USA
In the last ten years manufacturing industries have undergone a dramatic
change. A panoply of manufacturing philosophies and technologies that deal
with planning, designing, manufacturing and distributing products and
services have emerged. Design for manufacturability (DFM), continuous
process improvement (CPI), total quality management (TQM), quality function
deployment (QFD), just-in-time (JIT), are among a long list of time-based and
computer-based technologies that have recently received more attention from
academicians and practitioners.
The proper use of these technologies can help companies achieve multiple
advantages in terms of quality, flexibility, responsiveness and cost. It can also
foster total enterprise integration and enhance organizational performance.
Many practitioners and academicians (Schonenberger[1,2]; Ciampa;
Gunn[4,5]; Hall; Hunt[7,8]; Huge and Anderson; and Youssef[10-14]) view
these technologies as pillars of manufacturing excellence.
Product and Process Design
The design of products and processes is one of the most important decisions
in manufacturing organizations. It entails four basic decisions:
(1) what to design (the product);
(2) who is going to design it (the team);
(3) how is it going to be designed (the design method); and
(4) what technologies will be used in the design process.
These decisions are strategic in nature, affect almost all functions of the
manufacturing organization, and have a direct impact on manufacturing as
well as the financial performance of the firm.
Hayes, et al. showed that:
…Firms that get to the market faster and more efficiently with products that are well matched
with the needs and expectation of the target customers create significant competitive leverage.
International Journal of Operations
& Production Management, Vol. 14
No. 12, 1994, pp. 6-21. © MCB
University Press, 0144-3577
Received July 1993
Revised February 1994
On the other hand:
Firms that are slow to the market with products that match neither customer expectations nor
the products of their rivals are destined to see their market position erode and financial
The report by National Research Council concluded that “…firms using
design efficiently to turn business strategy into effective products must:
(1) Commit to continuous improvement both of products and of design and
(2) Establish a corporate product realization process (PRP) supported by top
(3) Develop and/or adopt and integrate advanced design practices into PRP.
(4) Create a supportive design environment.”
The remainder of this article is organized in the following order. First, traditional
and modern approaches to manufacturing are compared and contrasted. Second,
various definitions to design for manufacturability (DFM) and concurrent
engineering (CE) are discussed; and a unique definition for DFM is proposed.
Third, the pillars of DFM are examined. Fourth, benefits of using DFM tools are
explained. Finally, some of the successful case studies reported in the literature
Traditional versus Concurrent Manufacturing
Traditional, otherwise known as serial or sequential manufacturing, is different
from concurrent or simultaneous manufacturing in many aspects. Each
philosophy has its own rationale and ramifications. New developments in
advanced manufacturing and information technologies (AMTs and IT) have
made the use of the concurrent manufacturing approach more practical than the
traditional one. To show the difference between these two philosophies, we shed
some light on each.
The traditional approach to manufacturing, as projected by Vasilash, is
depicted in Figure 1.
According to Giffi, et al., the traditional approach was formalized by
NASA in the 1960s. In this approach, projects are broken down into a series of
steps or activities. These activities are executed sequentially. They are also
assigned to departments or divisions that work independently most of the time.
The information flows among these divisions is also of a sequential nature. The
design Manufacturing Sales
use of this approach promotes specialization and functional job focus. One of
the drawbacks of this approach is that time-to-market is longer. Another
drawback is that manufacturing firms using this approach will find it difficult to
integrate their manufacturing activities. Therefore, enterprise integration as an
objective, will become difficult to achieve.
Whitney described the conventional approach to design as follows:
…Engineers are given a technical oriented view that emphasizes determining the need,
preparing product, specifications, making trial design, prototyping for bench test, making final
design, and writing the manufacturing process plan.
According to Whitney, the process is self-contained with little if no outside
interference. The absence of manufacturing involvement, even in writing the
manufacturing process plan, increases the possibilities for redundant activities
and reduces the chances for getting the optimal design in shorter time.
The simultaneous engineering approach looks at the design problem differently.
Activities related to product and process design interact in a multidirectional type
of network. Simultaneous manufacturing can impact on both process and product
design. Organizations adopting this philosophy may realize many tangible and
intangible benefits. The approach is depicted in Figure 2.
As Figure 2 shows, activities are executed collaboratively among divisions or
departments. Departments are in direct communication with each other and
information flows from and to each department. The use of this approach
promotes systems theory thinking. Enterprise integration, therefore, becomes
easier; global optimization becomes the norm; and synergistic results become the
target to shoot for. Whitney noticed that this approach emphasizes the degree
to which decisions, made by other different parties, affect each other’s activities
and alter the product character. This strategic view of teamwork in product and
process design, as shown by Whitney, is depicted in Figure 3.
There have been many definitions of DFM. Stoll viewed DFM as a process
Modern Approach to
…is concerned with understanding how product design interacts with other components of
manufacturing systems and in defining product design alternatives which help facilitate
“global” optimization of the manufacturing system as a whole.
This definition takes a system theory approach to the manufacturing process
and emphasizes global optimization rather than sub-optimization.
At the simplest level, DFM means making a product design manufacturable
(Langowitz). In a broader sense, Langowitz added, DFM may mean creating
a product design which meets market preferences, enhances manufacturing
learning, and creates superior firm performance. This definition addresses the
marketing-manufacturing concern in designing process and product, as well as
the overall performance of the firm.
Hiatt indicated that the fundamental element of DFM is a product
development process that involves multi-function teams, working to design
marketplace winners, not simply products that are easier to assemble. Hiatt
also showed that: “there is a correlation between the level of competitive
pressure in a given product marketplace and the level of DFM in product
Based on empirical observations, Hiatt showed that when Hewlett Packard’s
competitors in the peripherals marketplace (Toshiba, American Inc., IBM,
Epson, NEC) turned to high levels of DFM and HP did not, the results were a
Strategic Approach to
less than competitive product and shrinking business. Hiatt was the first to
mention the concept of DFM level. However, he did not measure or even
Conradson et al. define DFM as “The Philosophy and practice of
designing a product for optimal fit to a particular manufacturing system”. As a
practitioner’s point of view, this definition emphasizes the engineering aspect of
the design of the product.
Miller and Sanders define DFM as “a methodology which supports the
design of products that are inherently producible within a target manufacturing
environment”. According to them, in addition to physical product fabrication,
assembly, test and manufacturing, DFM also includes communication and
human resource involvement from marketing and programme management,
through to engineering and quality assurance. This definition goes beyond the
engineering aspect of DFM. It promotes the system theory thinking, where
teams from different departments integrate their efforts to attain increased
fabrication efficiency by increasing the accuracy of design. Emphasis on the
team work is depicted in the latter part of this definition. Miller and Sanders
explained further that the realization of a complete DFM relies on design tools,
statistically valid process models and effective mechanism to feed process
models and data back to the design centre. According to Miller and Sanders,
new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), and expert systems (ES)
will facilitate efficient implementation of DFM.
The American Electronic Association survey on productivity views DFM
DFM refers to explicitly considering the problems, concerns and abilities of manufacturing
when designing a product.
The following findings of the survey were based on data collected from 248 high
●High technology companies are getting manufacturing more involved
during the design process.
●When manufacturing and design activities are integrated, companies
achieve higher gross margin, and inventory turns.
●To achieve quality design, high technology companies need to adopt
approaches such as quality function deployment (QFD), design of
experiments and Taguchi techniques to improve manufacturability and
match functionality with user requirements.
●DFM is a programme that any company can undertake and one that
pays significant dividends.
Design for manufacturability is also known by other names such as
simultaneous engineering (SE), concurrent engineering (CE), engineering for
excellence (EFE), concurrent product and process design (CPPD), design for
production (DFP), design for assembly (DFA), design fusion, producibility
engineering (PE), and system engineering (Zhang and Alting).
Giffi et al. define simultaneous engineering as:
…a nonlinear product or project design approach during which all phases of manufacturing
operate at the same time – simultaneously.
According to Giffi, Stoll has developed what he calls the four Cs of simultaneous
engineering. These are:
(1) Concurrence. Product and process design run in parallel and occur at the same time
(2) Constraints. Process constraints are considered part of the product design. This ensures
parts that are easy to fabricate, handle, and assemble and facilitates use of simple, cost-
effective processes, tooling and materials handling techniques.
(3) Co-ordination. Product and process are closely co-ordinated to achieve matching of the
requirements for effective cost, quality, and delivery.
(4) Consensus. High impact product and process-decision making involve full team
participation and consensus.
For successful implementation of CE, the four Cs must be integrated at both
macro and micro levels. As Zhang and Alting indicated, the four Cs have to
occur between the manufacturing organization and its external environment.
This environment includes forces such as suppliers, customers, competitors
and other exogenous variables. On the other hand, the four Cs have to occur
between the internal components of the manufacturing organization. This
holistic approach to CE will no doubt produce synergistic results.
According to Zhang and Alting, two other definitions indicate that the
leadtime should be significantly reduced as a result of using SE. The first
definition is by McKnight and Jackson, and the second is by Winner et al.
The latter appeared in the IDA report.
McKnight and Jackson define SE as:
…the concurrent development of project design functions, with open and interactive
communication existing among all team members for the purpose of reducing leadtime from
concept to production launch.
Winner et al. view concurrent engineering as:
…systematic approach to the integrated, concurrent design of products and their related
processes, including manufacture of support. This approach is intended to cause the
developers, from the outset, to consider all elements of the product life cycle from concept
through disposal, including quality, cost, schedule, and user requirements.
The IDA report went on to explain two main aspects of CE. First, CE activities
take into consideration all elements of product life cycle from conception
through disposal, including cost, quality, schedule, and user requirements.
Second, since users’ requirements are considered in the early stages of
designing and developing the product, it will be easier to build quality into the
In the IEEE Spectrum report, Rosenblatt and Watson view teamwork as
the key ingredient of CE. According to them, with CE, “no longer does
marketing give product specifications as fait accompli to engineering; no longer
does engineering’s design get ‘tossed over the wall’ to manufacturing. Instead,
both teams work together”. Shina, in the same report, explained that CE can
shorten the overall product development process because”…the steps along the
way are handled in parallel instead of serial, as is used”. Shina indicated that
the reduction in the number of iterations in the design process can shorten time
In an attempt to clarify some of the misconceptions about CE, Hunt
explained what CE is not. First, CE is not a magic formula for success. It
requires hard and efficient work for all parties involved. Second, CE does not
eliminate any engineering function; it seeks a more all-encompassing, cost-
effective optimum design. Third, CE is not simultaneous or overlapped design
and production. “CE does not begin a high rate of production of an item that has
not completed its development phase.” Fourth, CE is not just design for
producibility, nor design for reliability, nor for maintainability. It is a process
that integrates all of these domains to achieve optimal design. Finally, CE does
not necessarily lead to conservative design. In most cases, it facilitates the
process of the product being tolerant to manufacturing variation and
incorporation of new technologies into the product. For successful
implementation of the CE technology, these issues must be clear to those
involved in the design process. A clear vision and understanding of how CE
works can minimize redundancies and non-value added activities.
In this article we view design for manufacturability as: a design philosophy
that promotes collective and integrated efforts of a number of teams involved in
planning, organizing, directing, and controlling all activities related to products
and processes from idea generation to a finished product or service such that:
●available design, manufacturing, and information technologies are
●teamwork is emphasized;
●redundancies and non-value-added activities are eliminated;
●enterprise integration is promoted; and
●customer requirements and quality are built in the design.
This definition is unique in many respects. First, it applies to all types of
organizations, manufacturing and non-manufacturing. Second, it emphasizes
efficient utilization of all available technologies as well as the elimination of all
redundancies. Third, it promotes teamwork and enterprise integration. Finally,
it emphasizes that quality and customer requirements should be matched and
quality must be built into the product or the service. All these aspects, if
considered, would lead to optimal design, reduction in lead times, shorter time-
to-market, higher market shares, and better financial performance.
Pillars of DFM
The two main components of engineering design are technological and
social. The technological component includes:
●knowledge about engineering science;
On the other hand, the social component includes:
●corporate and organization culture;
●team design methods;
●the nature of the design task, and of the designer;
●customer attributes; and
Manufacturing organizations tend to emphasize the technological more than
the social component of the design process. We argue that hardware, software
and social components of a DFM system are equally important. Our rationale is
that a manufacturing organization may have an arsenal of the most
sophisticated hardware technologies and fail to manage them properly. Unless
the proper environment for implementing these technologies is created, tangible
as well as intangible benefits will be very difficult to realize.
Successful implementation of DFM depends on two main factors. First, a
commitment and support from top management to bring about cultural
changes, establish goals and objectives, and determine the dimensions on which
to compete. Second, a set of computer-based tools and technologies that
facilitate the use of DFM philosophy. We consider the following cultural
changes of paramount importance for the success of DFM. First, the emphasis
should be on long-term rather than short-term results. Second, management
must institute continuous improvement programmes, monitor and evaluate
these programmes on a regular basis. Third, teamwork and global optimization
should replace individual efforts and sub-optimization. Fourth, smooth flow of
information between and among subsystems. Fifth, a company-wide database
that should be shared by all users. Finally, a close relationship with suppliers
and customers should always be maintained. The successful implementation of
these cultural changes will foster full integration of all activities and functions
involved in creating a product or providing a service.
The second factor for DFM success is a set of DFM tools. According to
Stoll, these tools may be categorized in three main activities:
(1) reliance on multi-functional teams;
(2) the use of computer-aided design; and
(3) the use of a variety of analytical techniques and methods to optimize the
In addition to these tools, Shina discussed the importance of the following
activities for CE success:
●Document the capabilities and constraints of the current production
process using structured analysis and data flow diagrams. The goal
would be to eliminate redundant tasks.
●Review new parts and assemblies for manufacturability, serviceability,
●Develop an integrated computer network for downloading computer-
aided design and engineering representations to the manufacturing
●Develop software tooling whenever possible so that manufacturing
builds all prototypes.
Different industries, even different companies within the same industry, may
have different levels of success in CE implementation (Schrage[31, p. 540]).
According to Schrage, there are a number of characteristics that are necessary
for the successful implementation of DFM. These characteristics are
summarized in Table I.
Organizations implementing CE can achieve multiple advantages in terms of
better-designed, higher quality products with a shorter time-to-market. In
addition, a trouble-free product introduction often wins market share away from
competitors. In turn, these advantages can lead to better performance, and can
enhance the bottom line of an organization.
As cited by Keys et al., the report by the Institute for Defense Analysis
(IDA) addressed the following benefits of DFM:
(1) improving the quality of designs;
(2) reduction in product development cycle time by as much as 40 to 60 per
(3) reduction in manufacturing cost by as much as 30 to 40 per cent; and
(4) reduction in maintainability/serviceability efforts and warranty costs.
Miller and Sanders examined some of the motives and benefits of adopting
a DFM strategy. These may include:
(1) higher product yields through manufacturing;
(2) increased product performance;
(3) greater predictability of product yields;
(4) performance/yield tradeoffs by designers;
(5) reduced manufacturing cycle time;
(6) reduction in design engineering cycle time;
Required for Successful
Number Characteristics What is required
(1) A top-down design ●Top management support that is authoritative,
approach based on a but also participative to allow consensus
comprehensive system building
engineering process ●Development of a system engineering
management plan (SEMP)
●A computer-integrated information environment
to allow automated configuration, management
(2) Strong interface with ●Methods for translation of the voice of the
the customer customer into key product and process
●Continuous feedback to the customer as the
(3) Multifunctional and ●Team members from across the lifecycle product
multidisciplinary teams and process disciplines design, manufacturing,
●Management and peer acceptance of inputs from
all team members
●Equal or near-equal analysis capability by all
(4) Continuity of the teams ●Teams must be formed early in the design phase
●Key team members should transition with the
●Training, organizational acceptance and the
incentives for the team members who transition
(5) Practical engineering ●Methods for incorporating qualitative and
optimization of product quantitative optimization procedures
process characteristics ●Selection of optimization values for key product
and process characteristics based on parametric
(6) Design benchmarking ●Design by features methods (DBF)
and soft prototyping ●Product definition and data exchange standards
through creation of
a digital product model
(7) Simulation of the product ●Distributed simulation capability
performance and ●Varying levels of simulation fidelity to support
manufacturing and product evaluation through the process
(7) fostering of increased levels of communication;
(8) increased confidence levels in engineering and manufacturing
(9) positive impact on overall product quality.
Case Studies and Success Stories
Literature on CE and DFM is replete with success stories in implementing the
DFM philosophy. Empirical and case studies showed that proper
implementation of DFM does result in lower cost, higher quality, and shorter
Conradson et al. reported that some of the benefits of using DFM tools at
Hewlett Packard include design improvements, cost savings, reduction in time
required to bring a product to the market, and flexibility in bringing about
changes in design, process or both.
Hunt[7,8] showed that several companies using CE have reported benefits
such as lower cost, higher quality and shorter development time. His findings
are summarized in Table II.
Four other case studies on successful implementation of CE were detailed in
the IEEE Spectrum report (No. 29). In the first case, Wheeler showed that
computer-based tools may be preferable but not required for the success of CE
implementation. He indicated that practising CE in designing and
manufacturing the 54600 Oscilloscope at the Colorado Springs division of
Hewlett Packard yielded remarkable results. First, from the idea to a finished
product it took them one-third the time to complete this project than it would
Number Characteristics What is required
(8) Experiments to confirm/ ●Design of experiments (DOE) methods for
change high risk variability reduction of the high risk product
prediction found through and process characteristics
simulation ●Validation and verification of critical
components, parts and technologies
(9) Early involvement of ●Organizational decomposition to identify critical
subcontracts and vendors paths, schedules and required concurrency
●Top management and peer acceptance of early
(10) Corporate focus on ●Methods for design tracking and feedback of
continuous improvement lessons learned
and lessons learned ●Shared computer knowledge bases with open
access for key team members
Benefits of DFM
Company Reported benefits
AT&T Quality improvements
(1) Fourfold reduction in variability in a polysilicon deposition
process for very large scale integrated circuits (VLSI)
(2) Fifty per cent reduction in surface defects by using Taguchi
Decreases in development cycle
Reduces the total processing time for the 5ESS programmed
digital switch by 46 per cent in three years
Boeing Quality improvements
(1) Engineering changes per drawing are reduced from 15 to 1
through improved teamwork and utilization of computer-based
(2) Inspection-to-production hour ratio was reduced from 1:15 to 1:50
Decreases in development cycle
(1) Ballistic system division reduced parts and material lead times by
30 per cent
(2) One part of design analysis was reduced from two weeks with
three to four engineers to four minutes with one engineer
John Deere Quality improvements
Number of inspectors is reduced by 66 per cent due to the fact
that process control was emphasized, and design and
manufacturing processes were linked
Decreases in development cycle
Product development time for construction equipment was
reduced by 60 per cent
ITT Quality improvements
(1) Robust design and robust manufacturing processes resulted in a
saving of $500,000 by reducing rejects, $125,000 in tool costs, and
$1,100,000 on a solder process
(2) 28 per cent improvement on power supply product losses
Decreases in development cycle
(1) Design cycle for an electronic countermeasures system was
reduced by 33 per cent
(2) Transition-to-production time for this product was also reduced
by 22 per cent
(3) Time to produce a certain cable harness was reduced by 10
have without CE. Second, the oscilloscope was produced in time at the price
they aimed for. These results are attributed to emphasis on teamwork.
In the second case study, Burnett showed how Cisco Systems Inc., benefited
from CE. Before the use of CE, the manufacturing department was never
involved in the design process. Problems related to product and processes
altered to mount. Burnett added, by 1989 it was clear that “toss it over the wall”
practice was no longer practical and could not continue. A need for CE then,
emerged. The CE technology was used in designing and manufacturing one of
Cisco’s complex products – dual-buss internetwork router for high-speed fibre
distribution data interface (FDDI). The results were: FDDI was shipped on time
and test time was reduced by almost 60 per cent. Overall, Cisco Systems Inc. has
undergone dramatic growth. Revenues went up from 27 million dollars in 1989
(before using CE) to 70 million in 1990, to 76 million in the first quarter of 1991
In the third case, Barton and Wang described Raytheon’s experience with CE.
The Raytheon approach to CE is a little bit different from what has been
reported in the other two case studies. First, Raytheon divides its CE into three
parts: system level design, module level design and system management level.
In either one of these parts, teamwork and integrating subsystems was
emphasized. Second, Raytheon uses life cycle cost modelling. The purpose of
this type of modelling is to estimate how much a missile system will cost the
customer from concept to deployment and maintenance. Since Raytheon moved
towards CE in the mid 1980s, the main focus has been total quality.
In the fourth case, Rosenblatt showed that even companies with one-of-a-kind
items can find value in CE. The case study Rosenblatt uses to prove his point
was ITEK Optical Systems, a division of Litton Systems Inc. The use of CE at
Company Reported benefits
McDonnell Quality improvements
Douglas (1) Rework cost was reduced by 29 per cent
(2) Scrap cost was reduced by 58 per cent
(3) Nonconformances cost was reduced by 38 per cent
(4) Defects per units in a weld process was reduced by 70 per cent
Decreases in development cycle
(1) Redesign for a high-speed vehicle was reduced from 44 weeks to
(2) Cycle time was reduced by 20-25 per cent as a result of using
CALS (Computer Aided Acquisition Logistics Support) instead
of paper document methods
ITEK stemmed from the fact that the parent company decided to institute
continuous improvement programmes to achieve total quality and move
towards improving operations. In all cases, teamwork was an essential part of
the design process. ITEK was so successful in using teams to the extent that in
a span of one and one half-year the number of teams jumped from just four to
twenty-three. Rosenblatt mentioned that benefits in terms of quality,
productivity, better design, and even the bottom line were reported by Fausto
Molinet, the assistant director for total quality management.
Although there are many benefits of DFM tools that have been reported by
academicians and practitioners, some drawbacks of these tools have also been
mentioned. Conradson et al. mentioned the following drawbacks:
(1) Current DFM tools do not take into account many manufacturing
(2) Current DFM tools do not take tolerancing considerations into account.
(3) Most do not take into account the cost of fabricating an assembly part.
(4) It is not clear that available DFM tools are accurate enough to help
designers make correct design decisions when a product’s profit margin
(5) Many of the computer-based DFM tools nearly complete designs. When
the design is finally analysed there are a number of barriers that prevent
substantial modification of the design.
(6) Current DFM tools also give the designer little feedback upon which to
base design modification.
If incorrectly applied, DFM could hurt a company rather than help it
(Bancroft). Bancroft mentioned some of these shortcomings. First, DFM
promotes uniaxis assembly, which might not be the best technique that should
be applied. Second, DFM suggested reducing the number of parts used in an
assembly so that more functionality is incorporated in one part. While this
might sound practical, Bancroft argued that it is sometimes easier to add
several simple steps rather than one complicated one. Third, DFM causes a shift
in decision-making power. Bancroft also argued that manufacturing will have
considerable influence over product design, and product design will have
greater influence over the choice of manufacturing method. Although
Bancroft’s claim may have some validity, in some cases, creating the proper
environment by top management should foster the integration and harmony of
the team effort.
In the new dynamic manufacturing environment design, for manufacturability
as a time-based strategy has been proven to have a significant positive impact
on time-to-market. Successful implementation of DFM can also result in better
quality, higher product and process flexibility, and faster response to customer
needs. However, successful implementation of the DFM strategy requires
cultural changes that allow for better communication among all subsystems,
promote team work, and integrate the efforts of those involved in product and
processes decisions. This new strategy promotes time as a new dimension on
which a firm may compete. In the second part of this article, we will investigate
empirically the impact of DFM on time-to-market.
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