Design Overhaul Translates to Reduced Unit Costs

Female engineer reviews product model on computer screen

Offshore support leads to significant cost-savings and competitive designs for manufacturing client

Client Profile

An American-owned manufacturer of sinks, faucets, bottle filling stations, drinking stations, and foodservice products.

The Challenge

Our client wanted to redesign one of their products, a bottle filling station. Their goal was to reduce the component cost and thereby reduce the overall cost of the unit. The price of the same product by our client's direct competitors was much lower in comparison, making it difficult to place the product comfortably in the market. The client requested we benchmark their product with their competitors and redesign the unit based on this study to significantly reduce the cost of the unit while also maintaining quality and other functionalities.

The Actalent Approach

Actalent's technical team conducted a thorough analysis of the client's requirements and expectations to provide a solution to their problem. The project was split into three phases: viz. teardown and cost analysis for benchmarking the product, development of concept designs to incorporate all design requirements, and product development and validation to build and test the product for conformance to quality and other standards.

During the first phase of the project, our client's product along with two competitor products was torn down and segregated based on function. Actalent's team conducted reverse engineering (Scanning & 3D modeling) to understand the materials used, detailed design, and other features to create separate BOMs. Comparison reports were made indicating cost, serviceability, and technological differences between components to identify the cause for the higher price of the product. The cost analysis report provided a clear indication in this regard.

The second phase started with the development of concept designs incorporating design changes based on the inferences from benchmarking and cost analysis performed in the first phase. A total of four concepts for filter mounting and access, button actuation mechanism, modular chassis, and bottle filler were presented to the client. The best concept was selected using the Pugh matrix and crossfunctional teams like refrigeration, plumbing, exterior UI, and electronics were engaged to integrate the sub-systems and to further develop the design. This design was validated using CAE simulations and later modified to accommodate changes recommended by the CAE team for better integrity. An Alpha prototype was developed to study the fit, function, and feel of the new design.

In the third phase, modifications were made to the design addressing feedback from the Alpha prototype testing. Concepts for other mechanisms were also created at different points for enhancement from Alpha built. DFMEA and DVP&R were performed for mitigating design risks along with DFM & DFA to check manufacturing feasibility.

The new design was conforming to the applicable standards, regulations, and internal quality criteria of the client. Actalent delivered prototypes and model designs to the customer with completed quality checklists for approval and final sign-off.

The Results

Actalent's assistance with this project helped the customer achieve BOM cost comparable to competitor's pricing, enabling their redesigned product to be placed in the market, beating the competition. Our skilled team helped the customer achieve significant cost savings by executing the project from our offshore center in India. It enabled them to build prototypes at one-third the price quoted by vendors in the US.

Actalent's development of the highly-patentable push-button mechanism will add great technical value. Our team's design is unique in the market, improving our client's chance of success with the product. Actalent was able to provide a complete solution for all the services required for the initiative – including mechanical, electrical, and electronics capabilities. The new design also meets ADA (handicap) regulatory requirements.