New Goals for Advanced, Flexible Manufacturing As today marks the th anniversary of the moving assembly line invented by Ford Motor Company under the leadership of Henry Ford, the company is building on its legacy of innovation by expanding advanced manufacturing capabilities and introducing groundbreaking technologies that could revolutionize mass production for decades to come. Ford is rapidly expanding its advanced manufacturing capabilities and boosting global production to meet surging consumer demand. ByFord will increase its global flexible manufacturing to produce on average four different models at each plant around the world to allow for greater adaptability based on varying customer demand.
Even though the company paid generously and had a good reputation, our software engineers would sit in sprint planning meetings, saying little and bolting out the door as soon as the meeting ended.
New designers lost interest within a matter of months, and were usually gone before the year was up. One of the main causes for this team-wide dissatisfaction was our product development process, which at the time looked like this: The Executive team made new feature requests; PMs helped prioritize these ideas and fleshed these out into requirements.
We then sent requirements to the designers, who then cranked out designs. Exec-approved designs then went to the engineering team, who built the feature according to spec and tested it.
Once everything was working correctly, we launched it to users. Churn and delays during design and implementation: For example, designers would spend weeks building pixel-perfect Invision prototypes, complete with animations and hover states, only to discover that their solution required a refactoring of the entire underlying data model.
When that happened, we had to go back to the drawing board in order to come up with a more feasible solution, wasting precious time and slowing down the overall project. Total lack of investment in the features we worked on: With the assembly line approach, team members had no impact on the preceding step in the process.
Designers had limited input on the requirements, and engineers had little say on either the requirements or the designs.
We treated our team members like pixel pushers and code monkeys, and unsurprisingly, they ended up not caring about the product. Without contributions from designers and engineers to the product roadmap, we often ended up working on the wrong set of features.
At the time, our feature suggestions came largely from our Executive team as opposed to the people who spent the most time with our product and our users. Ensuing problems included delaying critical tech debt issues until our backend was on the verge of falling over, and failing to take user testing feedback into account when prioritizing features.
Stunted professional development and personal growth: For many engineers and designers, progressing along their respective career tracks means participating more deeply in the product development process. For a senior engineer, this may include advocating for tech-driven initiatives like speeding up performance, while senior designers might want to emphasize recurring themes from user interviews.
From this perspective, the Product Assembly Line does all team members a disservice; when everyone is just supposed to keep their heads down and stay in their lane, no one gets the experience they need to advance in their careers.
Us 4 years ago The After Luckily, we eventually came to the realization that our product development approach was broken, and we overhauled it completely. Instead of ideas moving linearly from one functional role to the next, we adopted a much more collaborative approach.
Cross-functional squads The foundation of the Product Development Loop is the the Cross-functional Squad, which consists of a product manager, engineers, designers, and even business stakeholders depending on the circumstances.
All squad members play an active role in coming up with ideas for how to hit those goals, prioritizing what to work on first, and executing on high-impact ideas. Best practices on this topic will be the subject of an entire standalone post, soon to come. Basically, it just involves circling back with the cross-functional squad and checking after every major step in the process.
In practice, the steps break down as follows: PMs then flesh out more detailed user stories and requirements based off the approach, and then check in again with the squad.
From there, design and engineering work in parallel — designers build low-fidelity wireframes and conduct usability tests if applicablewhile engineers write a technical design document and solicit feedback from peers.
Cross-functional squad reviews wireframes, asks questions, and confirms that they satisfy the requirements without presenting a major technical challenge. Designers turn the wireframes into high-fidelity designs and present them in a developer-friendly format think Invision Inspect or Zeplinwhile engineers break down the technical design into discrete tasks and start working on the backend and preliminary frontend.
Once high fidelity designs are complete, engineers can finish with styling and polish, collaborating closely with design to reduce iteration and churn. Business stakeholders receive an end-to-end walkthrough of the feature, especially if their team has to use it post-launch think a CMS or other internal tool.
The cross-functional squad thoroughly dogfoods the feature, and everyone signs off on launch. PMs work with data teams to make sure that reporting is in place and conducts analysis both qualitative and quantitative X days post-launch to measure impact.
PM shares findings on impact with the rest of the squad and the team reflects on what areas of the feature are working well, and what areas can be improved.
While this approach may not work for every team — some product teams may not have any designers, for instance — the general process and philosophy hold true for most organizations.An assembly line is a manufacturing process (often called a progressive assembly) in which parts A single craftsman or team of craftsmen would create each part of a product.
They would use their skills and tools such as files and knives to create the individual parts. The Pliteq engineering team presented two papers at the annual NOISE-CON meetings in Grand Rapids, MI this week. Thank you to all of the organizers and engineers in attendance for making it a truly memorable week.
How Ford and Tesla Motors have transformed the automotive assembly line through the years. From Ford to Tesla Motors: How the Automotive Assembly Line has Evolved Over the Past Years.
While mapping is useful for individual thinking, it is most effective in a group setting. In a group, the facilitator is key. Facilitators guide events, question conventional . “The results from a one week improvement event led to as much as four times the previous throughput measurements in our factory!
Outstanding coaching and direction allowed employees at all levels to quickly understand the basics of lean manufacturing and act on them right out of the gate.
The issue of whether a team approach in an assembly line job will positively affect production is a controversial one but a closer examination reveals that it is very difficult to implement a successful team-based approach.
Although under the concept of intrinsic motivation, this approach has several advantages because it reduces the boredom associated with [ ].