Value Analysis/ Value Engineering in Sheet Metal Fabrication


What is Value Analysis/ Value Engineering?

Value analysis/ value engineering (V.A.V.E)  is a process of reducing cost / increasing value for the customer in the production of components and assemblies. This is an extremely important exercise for OEM’s when working with a manufacturing partner as products are often produced in high volumes. Any small saving which can be made in the manufacturing stages can equate to huge overall savings across a product lifecycle.

V.A.V.E is often combined with other manufacturing principles such as D.F.M.A (Design for manufacture and assembly) in order to optimize the product in the design phase ahead of production. A manufacturing partner may suggest alternative solutions to achieve the customer requirements. For example, a new tool may be designed to create certain forms when used with a punch or press brake. This may equate to a small upfront cost for the customer but result in a much bigger saving in the long term through reduced processing or increased efficiency.

When does Value Analysis/ Value Engineering occur?

A manufacturing partner can either be asked by a customer to manufacture a product to an exact specification (Design to print) or to take a more involved, collaborative role in the design phase (Design and specification manufacture).

In the case of design to print projects, there may be an opportunity for the manufacturing partner to review the existing design, using DFMA principles to suggest modifications with the aim of reducing cost. This may include changes to process, for example, CNC punching forms / extrusions as opposed to welding separate parts together, removing processing time, reducing material and ultimately lowering the cost for the customer. Product function and features are also reviewed during this phase, with alternative solutions and possible design changes suggested. These alternative solutions are then tested and costed to assess feasibility. Following this process, the manufacturing partner will propose any design or process changes to the customer, along with a cost analysis.

Where customers require design input from the manufacturing partner, NPI (New Product Introduction) teams will be heavily involved in the V.A.V.E process from the outset. This allows the product to be fully optimised for manufacture with all aspects considered well ahead of production. Materials, features, processes and resourcing can all be considered fully, with a comprehensive cost analysis. Working in this way is the most efficient and cost-effective solution for the customer as design for manufacture insight informs production from the outset. By taking this time early on in a project, the customer is assured that the product is fully optimised for manufacture and as cost effective as possible.

V.A.V.E in Practice

A good example of Value engineering in practice is the electrical enclosure box featured in Alpha’s V.A.V.E video. Working closely with the customer (a global electrical systems manufacturer) from the outset, Alpha were able to make various design suggestions which both improved the products’ functionality and reduced the overall cost to the customer.

By implementing DFMA principles to the design, Alpha reduced the amount of processing required during manufacture and in some cases, completely removed a process all together. Spacers on the rear of the box which allow it to be screwed to a wall securely, leaving space between the box itself and the surface. The had previously been made by welding a washer to the box after manufacture. Alpha instead achieved this by incorporating it into the CNC Punch process. A small tooling investment allowed for the form to be achieved without any welding.

A design change was also suggested to reduce the number of these spacers from four to three without affecting the stability of the box once fixed to a wall. By removing the welding process completely, reducing material by negating the washers and reducing the number of spacers, Alpha achieved considerable savings for the customer whilst also improving the design and functionality of the product. The small savings made on each product, when calculated over the high volumes produced, equate to a significant saving for the customer.

In addition to reducing manufacturing cost, Alpha also made several suggestions to improve the product and reduce manual processing on site by installers. Several conduits knock-out features were added to the sides of the box, using a CNC punch tool. The installer on-site is then able to knock-out the appropriate sections and feed through any cables. This removes the need for on-site drilling of the box, saving time and also improving the aesthetics of the finished product.

Another CNC Punch process was incorporated to stamp electrical earthing symbols onto the inside of the box, instructing the installer where to place certain elements of the internal system. Previously, stickers had been placed here which again, was an additional process and cost for the customer. They could also easily be removed or fall off, whereas the new punch process created an indelible stamp.

Can V.A.V.E Save You Money?

Alpha’s experienced NPI and engineering teams have a wealth of knowledge in precision sheet metal fabrication and work with each customer to value engineer their products where required. Often, there are manufacturing considerations that the customer is not been aware of or alternative processes that can be utilised. If you have a product you’d like to discuss, get in touch with our sales engineers who are always happy to discuss product design and offer V.A.V.E advice.