Mike Garcia and Jill Hendrickson have been butting heads for months at work. Mike is a manufacturing manager at Auto Safety Products, which is a firm in the Midwest that designs and produces automobile seat belts and infant and child safety seats. Jill is a design engineer for the same firm. Top management at their work instituted concurrent engineering, a team-based system that integrates manufacturing and design processes.
Concurrent engineering is intended to eliminate the problems that often occur in industry when designers are unaware of the needs of manufacturing. Through concurrent engineering, management hoped to improve attention to all elements of the product life cycle and manufacture a quality, low-cost product that will meet user needs. The company was also hoping to decrease the amount of time it takes to move from initial conceptual design to actual production.
Both Mike and Jill are on the team working on toddler booster seats. This is an important product for Auto Safety Products, as research has indicated that parents do not use safety seats once children reach toddler age. The reason for this is because they are difficult to use in cars and uncomfortable for the children. Thus the team at Auto Safety Products worked to make the seats easier for parents to use by making them more comfortable, more portable, and more compatible with a range of automobiles from small sports cars to sedans to minivans to SUVs.
Mike is 55-years-old and has worked in manufacturing for most of his life. He has spent the past 22 years working at Auto Safety Products. Mike has always felt some animosity toward the design side of the firm. He found the engineers unwilling to listen to the problems faced in manufacturing. He often complained that the design department generates projects that run into all sorts of problems once they hit manufacturing. He approached the new concurrent engineering program at his work.