Consecutive engineering is the term used to describe the method of production in a linear format. The different steps are done one after another, with all attention and resources focused on that one task. After it is completed it is left alone and everything is concentrated on the next task. In concurrent engineering, different tasks are tackled at the same time, and not necessarily in the usual order. This means that info found out later in the process can be added to earlier parts, improving them, and also saving a lot of time.

Lead time is the time it takes to get a product to the shop shelf from when someone first comes up with the idea. Concurrent engineering allows all people, designers, producers, management, etc, to work in teams on all parts of the creation of the product. This means that they can work to make the processes more efficient, and they don’t have to sit and wait if the product isn’t in their part of the process. This means the different stages cam be completed quicker, reducing the lead time.

ICT systems can play an important part in concurrent engineering. Setting up databases available to all teams means that changes can be seen immediately by everyone. Good communication is the key to good concurrent engineering, and so this helps a lot.

Here is an example:

If I were trying to get a new computer mouse on the market, I would put the designers and the manufacturers in a team. This way, the manufacturers can tell the designers if what they are designing is possible with the current machinery, and/or how expensive it would be to get better machines. This means that the mistakes can be corrected at the time, rather than the design having to be altered completely half way through the process. It could work the other way too, with designers designing work-arounds to problems in manufacturing when they happen. This speeds everything up, as the design etc doesn’t have to keep being sent back and forth until something is found that works. This means the product can hit the shelf quicker.

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