This example is from an engineer giving a presentation at a conference. Here is the abstract explanation of concurrent engineering: "designing an item, planning for its production, and planning for its maintenance all at the same time."
Fortunately, the speaker continued with an example:
If you want a new part for a machine, the old way was to design the part, down to the last detail. Then the designers would give their design to the production people who would prepare tools to make it. Once the part was actually in production, the maintenance people would begin doing repairs or preventive maintenance. That was inefficient.
Concurrent engineering plans for all three stages at the same time. The production people work with the designers, perhaps pointing out that their tools would have great difficulty rounding out an edge to the designers' specifications. But a slightly different edge would be easy.
The maintenance people might point out that a component that fails every 75 hours is in a place that requires removing 15 bolts to get to it. Redesigning would make their job easier.
Having the designers, the producers, and the maintainers work together—concurrently—makes engineering far more efficient. And the product can be much less expensive for its life cycle—perhaps slightly more expensive to design, but cheaper to produce and cheaper to maintain.
The example is effective, isn't it? It would take a minute to present, but I can't think of a shorter way to communicate the concept.
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