Concurrent engineering, an approach in which multiple engineering tasks or projects are performed in parallel rather than serially, has been around for decades. But only recently has it started to be widely adopted in different industries.
This article outlines 5 major benefits of concurrent engineering.
It encourages multidisciplinary collaboration
We frequently extol the virtues of multidisciplinary collaboration in engineering. That’s because we believe bringing process, instrumentation, and electrical engineers together is crucial to success.
Through collaborating, engineers avoid the kinds of miscommunications that can lead to disaster. Collaboration also reduces the time-wasting, inconsistencies, and other inefficiencies associated with the silo effect. In short, collaboration among disciplines eliminates many of the problems engineering teams face every day.
It makes the design process faster
Serial design can be slow. Engineers working on later phases of a project can spend a lot of time waiting for those working on the earlier phases to finish.
Concurrent engineering eliminates a lot of that wait time by overlapping and integrating tasks. By one estimate, this approach can reduce the total design effort by as much as 30%.
Concurrent engineering also speeds the design process by ensuring change requests are kept to a minimum. As we outlined in this article, change requests can come in during any phase of the design process. When engineers from different disciplines work together, they can work out the kinks as they go, reducing the number of changes that come in down the line.
It reduces costs and increases quality by supporting the entire project life cycle
In a 2009 paper about concurrent engineering in the architecture, engineering, and construction (A/E/C) industry, Jesus M. de la Garza and colleagues wrote:
“Cost-effective and top-quality facilities can be conceived, designed, built, and operated if these activities are not performed in a vacuum, but rather, performed in a life cycle context…[Concurrent engineering] brings together, from project inception, multiple individuals to address all angles of a project and enables the accumulation of knowledge and information so as to reduce downstream risks and anticipate constructability, operability, and maintainability expectations.”
Essentially, by considering downstream activities (construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning) while performing upstream activities (conception, specification, and design), “concurrent engineering can bring cost effectiveness and produce nothing less than top quality for the ultimate buyer and consumer of constructed facilities, i.e., owners and end users, respectively.”
It increases productivity by stopping mistakes in their tracks
You’ve undoubtedly worked on projects where mistakes aren’t discovered until it’s too late. Maybe a machine ships with the wrong number of wires in a cable or it doesn’t actually fit into its designated area on the plant floor. Since it was your mistake, you end up footing the bill to fix it.
Concurrent engineering brings more people to the table earlier in the process so that these kinds of mistakes are found while the project is still in the design phase, when they’re relatively inexpensive to fix, rather than later on, when even a small change can cost you big time.
It gives you a competitive advantage
Concurrent engineering means you’ll complete projects faster and achieve higher quality results. That will give you an immediate advantage over any firm still doing things the old way.