By Don Welling, Sr. Director of Technical Solutions, Viant
The average driver can change a tire in about 20 minutes. A NASCAR pit crew can change all four tires in less than 20 seconds, thanks to the right tools and processes. Of all the tools used in NASCAR racing, the air wrench has saved the most time when speed is of the essence.
If you’re looking to accelerate time to market by implementing Lean Principles, you have a vast toolbox to choose from. Which tools do you reach for first?
At Viant, we’re bringing Lean to life across the product lifecycle to deliver optimal cost of ownership with uncompromised quality and reliability. For more than a decade, our teams have been applying Lean techniques to improve product quality, lower cost, and speed time to market.
Here, we describe three of our go-to Lean tools and give real-life examples of how they can help accelerate your product launch.
3 Essential Lean Tools
- Set-based design
In this Lean Product Development methodology, teams identify a set of options (rather than a single design concept), gather system-level performance data for each, and eliminate choices until the best one emerges. This approach reduces the number of serial iterations and greatly increases the likelihood of launching on time.
Example: Lean Product Development Dramatically Accelerates Time to Market for Laparoscopic Device
A large surgical technology company needed to accelerate the market release of a novel flexible monopolar scissors for a new laparoscopic surgical system. The Viant team used Lean Product Development tools to optimize cutting (one of 4 priorities identified), including set-based design.
Team members evaluated design inputs and isolated 2 key variables: form (curve) of blades and squeeze pressure. They then developed a set-based DOE to efficiently evaluate impact of squeeze force on various form factors.
- Leveraging Lean Product Development:
- Increased cut cycle performance
- Launched novel product in 1 year
- Beat customer’s internal launch time by 50%
- Hit budget cost targets
- Accelerated time to FDA submission
- Root-cause analysis
Another Lean Product Development tool, root-cause analysis is a way to analyze and identify the underlying causes of an issue so that the team can implement the most effective solutions. It also helps teams avoid the pitfall of choosing the most expedient solution rather than focusing on a long-term solution to prevent the issue from recurring.
Example: Lean Product Development Helps Novel Articulating Tissue Sealer Design Gain First-to-Market Advantage
A large surgical device company was developing a novel articulating vessel sealer for the laparoscopic surgery market. It faced competitive pressure to be first to market.
The Viant development team ran parallel processes for design and process development to ensure the timeline. The team also used root cause analysis to ensure a robust design of the flex joint, a key feature identified as high risk. Animal lab testing showed that the flex joint degraded after extended use. The team rapidly:
- Identified potential failure modes and isolated critical variables
- Developed a bench test method to simulate clinical conditions
- Tested multiple hypothesis in parallel
Within two weeks the team began implementing a solution using existing tools and approved materials to minimize impact. As a result, the product was launched on schedule with minimal additional cost. One of its first uses was for a procedure to save a pregnant patient that would not have been possible on the original timeline.
- Lean Product Development techniques helped this company:
- Shave 15 months off its launch schedule
- Gain first-to-market advantage
A Production Preparation Process (3P) event is a Lean Product Launch tool that brings stakeholders together to identify and reduce waste in every step of a process, which increases efficiency, de-risks the manufacturing process, and compresses the timeline.
Example: Lean Product Launch with 3P Event Reduces Risk & Compresses Timeline for Energy-Based Device
A small startup needed help scaling up a system to treat the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The system included an RF generator and a complex, handheld, energy-based delivery device requiring sophisticated assembly technology.
The Viant team held a cross-functional Production Preparation Process (3P) event that brought stakeholders together to identify and reduce waste in every step. The goals were to develop a scalable assembly process, manufacturing line layout, and flow, and to minimize and justify the capital expenditure (CapEx). Four teams worked independently then collaborated on the process solution voted best using Lean criteria. The teams built mock-ups and simulated more than 20 stations for assembly, testing, and packaging. Teams assessed safety, ergonomics, material flow, and operator envelope to identify opportunities to reduce waste and bottlenecks.
- Lean 3P process enabled team to:
- Decrease cycle time by 10%
- Balance line within +/- 4%
- Decrease net labor by 48%
- Achieve capacity with no additional CapEx
- Strengthen relationship; build trust
At Viant, our Lean2Life initiative is transforming end-to-end manufacturing. Our Lean Product Development approach leverages design knowledge and discovers unknowns to reduce redevelopment cycles and accelerate time to market, while improving product efficacy and reducing costs. Lean Product Launch is a front-end process design tool used to mitigate risks and minimize waste in manufacturing transfers as well as new product launches.
Together, these Lean approaches are optimizing development and manufacturing processes to minimize waste and drive increased quality, service, and performance.
Just as the introduction of air wrench technology revolutionized NASCAR racing in the 1960s, implementing Lean Principles can help take your organization to the next level and help you drive programs over the finish line faster.
Don Welling has 20+ years of experience developing and launching new products. He has lead Lean Manufacturing and Lean Product Development projects that have reduced WIP by 50%, decreased cycle time by 6X, launched new products with a 50% reduction in time to market, and decreased product costs by 80%. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. Don will present “How Lean Product Development Can Accelerate Time to Market” at DeviceTalks Boston on June 5, 2019.
Learn more about Viant’s Lean Product Development.