The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a study commissioned by an aircraft producer that is concerned about the efficiency of its new product development process and the high number of engineering changes generated during aerospace programs.
The paper focuses on nine structural design projects and explores the factors explaining the inter‐project differences in the number of engineering changes required after the structural drawings are released to the methods department. The method of inquiry used in this paper combines questionnaire‐based measurement of design performance with in‐depth semi‐structured interviews of managers and designers.
The research results suggest that, in an industrial context where both time pressure and labour shortage are considerable, design practices such as functional diversity, intense communication, collocation and strong project leadership, are associated with higher design performance. Furthermore, in a specific organizational context where the design work is divided among various companies located in different regions, effective partner integration is another key success factor.
Although the strength of the findings is inevitably limited by the small number of observations, the results raise some important questions about the effect of time pressure and labour shortage on product development performance.
The results suggest that design performance is likely to increase if the production sustaining phase is actively promoted within aerospace companies, since this activity provides designers with considerable learning opportunities.
Using sensitive internal data on engineering changes and rich qualitative material, this paper indicates how design performance can be improved in organizations that tend to rely on design rework and other safety nets to achieve their quality objectives and comply with industry regulations.
Dostaler, I. (2010), "Avoiding rework in product design: evidence from the aerospace industry", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 5-26. https://doi.org/10.1108/02656711011009281Download as .RIS
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