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Designing Products for Life Cycle Profitability


Designing Products for Life Cycle Profitability (DPLCP) is a comprehensive body-of-knowledge that goes far beyond just the idea of designing products to be more cost effectively produced. DPLCP is an inclusive framework that describes processes, methodologies and techniques for designing products in ways that allow them to be easier, safer and less expensive to manufacture, distribute, service and use.

Participants will learn first-hand through brief lectures, case studies, videos and exercises about numerous DPLCP techniques and methods. They will then explore the application of these techniques on real products that teams of participants will disassemble, dissect and evaluate. Through two labs, participants will learn how selected products were engineered in respect to the five views of DPLCP.

Participants will gain a better understanding of what is required to enhance a product’s life cycle costs through the use of DPLCP processes, tools and methodologies. Participants will understand precisely how to implement the DPLCP elements to achieve lower costs and enhanced product effectiveness within their specific companies. They will develop several hands-on presentations during this program using various templates and analytical methodologies to complete their group exercises.


At the conclusion of this hands-on workshop, you will be able to:

  • Apply a framework to your product development processes that specifically addresses:
    • Design for fabrication
    • Design for assembly
    • Design for life cycle environmental and safety/li>
    • Design for logistics
    • Design for life cycle serviceability
  • Define measurable manufacturing variables that your company will need to properly assess life cycle costs and profitability, derived from product development activities.
  • Build a relevant product life cycle cost and profitability model that simulates the impact of forward costs, specifically focusing on 8 DPLCP economic variables.
  • Drive necessary organizational changes to enhance global DPLCP implementation success.
  • Design and execute "Design Review Workshops," that drive real-time product development transparency across all organization entities.
  • Build a compendium of design expectations and rules that encourage a life cycle profitability view of product development.
  • Promote cultural changes that will be necessary for your organization to adopt a "product design for profitability" culture.


  • How do I create a "framework" for comprehensive life cycle product development that works with my products, technologies and enterprise culture?
  • What key fabrication considerations should be addressed during the product development process?
  • What key assembly considerations should be addressed during the product development process?
  • What key life cycle environmental and safety considerations should be addressed during the product development process?
  • What key logistics considerations should be addressed during the product development process?
  • What key life cycle serviceability considerations should be addressed during the product development process?
  • How do I perform a forward-looking life cycle profitability analysis?
  • How can we measure life cycle costs and profitability, and how will these values drive product portfolio decisions?
  • How do I "break" silo-thinking and replace it with a more transparent product development process and culture?


How do I create a "framework" for comprehensive life cycle product development?

Introduction to DPLCP Framework

  • DPLCP goals and strategies
  • How DPLCP contributes to enterprise valuation
  • Product life cycle cost implications of design
  • Framework for DPLCP process
  • Product development process in a DPLCP environment
  • Importance of designing for manufacturability
  • Manufacturing system inputs that are "designed in" by engineering
  • A new definition of product cost
  • Results of poor product development

Overview and Drill-Down on Five DPLCP Critical Elements

  • Design for Fabrication (DFF)
  • Design for Assembly (DFA)
  • Design for Life Cycle Environment and Safety (DFE&S)
  • Design for Logistics (DFL)
  • Design for Life Cycle Serviceability (DFS)

Core Technical Principles of DPLCP

  • DPLCP product development guidelines
  • A new product development paradigm is needed
  • Seven manufacturing variables that must be addressed in the design and engineering phases of product development
  • Guidelines:
    • Off-the-shelf components
    • Total part-count reduction
    • Modular design
    • Adhere to specific engineering guidelines
    • Avoid right and left parts
    • Design parts with symmetry
    • If parts symmetry is not possible, design with substantial asymmetry
    • Design parts to be multi-functional
    • Design parts for multiple uses
    • Avoid separate fasteners
    • Maximize compliance
    • Minimize physical assembly directions
    • Design for fixturing
    • Minimize tooling complexity by concurrently designing tools
    • Specify optional tolerances for robust design
    • Understand tolerance step functions and set tolerances wisely
    • Suh's Theory of Design
    • Specify quality components from quality suppliers
    • Select quality suppliers that are predictable
    • Minimize setups
    • Minimize material handling
    • Minimize cutting tools

DPLCP Exploration Lab #1

  • Working in teams, participants will disassemble and characterize real products in terms of:
    • External Packaging
    • Internal Packaging
    • Product and Accessories
    • Level-1 Assemblies
    • Level-2 and Below Subassemblies
  • Participants will identify all components (including labeling) and describe traditional considerations that would likely be considered in traditional product design and engineering phases.
  • Each team will document all findings, including photographs, BoM’s and other important product data derived from the detailed tear-down activity.
  • Each team will make appropriate presentations using provided templates.

DPLCP Economic Analysis Methods

  • Identification of product cost elements
  • Different ways to view product profitability
  • What’s happening to direct labor costs?
  • Direct material costs versus performance tradeoffs
  • Material acquisition burden costs
  • The difference between product burden and overhead costs and why this is important to the engineer
  • EIGHT key DPLCP implementation and redesign costs
  • Typical product cost analysis methodology

DPLCP Exploration Lab #2

  • Participants will continue their physical product tear-down define new approaches to design that will make the product a better product through:
    • Design for Fabrication (DFF) principles
    • Design for Assembly (DFA) principles
    • Design for Life Cycle Environment and Safety (DFE&S) principles
    • Design for Logistics (DFL) principles
    • Design for Life Cycle Serviceability (DFS) principles
  • This exploration lab will result in a complete product engineering package that defines all DCLCP issues for the selected products. It will define specific design improvements that support DCLCP principles along with an estimate of value derived from the recommended improvements.
  • Each team will make appropriate presentations using provided templates.

Implementation of DPLCP

  • How to build a robust DPLCP culture
  • The new DPLCP product development organization paradigm
  • Critical DPLCP implementation issues
  • How customer requirements drive all design issues
  • Establishing preferred material sets
  • Establishing preferred parts lists
  • Integrating product and manufacturing safety requirements into the product design and engineering phases
  • Building a manufacturing plan during the product engineering phase
  • Developing a clear view of product reliability requirements
  • Building a product sustainment plan
  • Enabling tools for integrated global product development
  • The Design Review Seminar… a staple in the DPLCP environment
  • Key cultural requirements defined from the lens of the seven deadly sins of manufacturing
  • What should you expect from your engineering function in a DPLCP environment?


This program will provide substantial value to anyone who can benefit by product development that seeks profitability over a product’s entire life cycle. Specifically, this program will benefit engineers and engineering leaders, supply chain professionals, customer service leaders, industrial engineers and operations leaders.

This program blends theory with hands-on tactile exercises. Participants will execute a design for manufacturability process in reverse... tearing down and reassembling real products in workshop labs.


Alan Dunn

Alan G. Dunn specializes in strategic planning, supply chain management, manufacturing management, operations management, cost management and business finance. He is President of GDI Consulting & Training Company and Founder of the Manufacturing Executive Institute. He was the 2015 Chairman of APICS. Previously, Mr. Dunn was a Vice President at Gemini Management Consulting and a Partner at Coopers & Lybrand. In both positions, he led large technical manufacturing teams in innovative productivity enhancement projects. Prior to joining Coopers and Lybrand, Mr. Dunn was President of ADI, a successful systems implementation consulting and training company that he sold to Coopers & Lybrand in 1990.

In addition to his 40 years of technical and management consulting experience, Mr. Dunn has several years of line leadership experience in manufacturing environments. He has an extensive background in most functions within manufacturing companies. He has participated in over 240 manufacturing and distribution projects inside over 150 companies. He has worked in more than 20 countries and across most industrial sectors.

Mr. Dunn has worked with 3-Com, ABEX, Air Cargo, Air Logistics Corp., Akzo, Alcon, AlliedSignal, AMCOR, American Cyanamid, Amgen, Applied Automation, Applied Materials, Argon, Arkema Chemical, AT&T, Baker Hughes, Ballard Power Systems, Banner Pharmcaps, Baxter, Beckman SmithKline, Boeing, Borg Warner, Canon, Caterpillar, Chamberlain Manufacturing, Chuao Chocolates, Ciba Geigy, Cooper Vision, CSC, Cyberamics, Daimler-Chrysler, Danaher, Datametrics, Data Products, Emerson Electric, Fairchild, Fleetwood, Fluke, Ford Motor Company, General Instrument, Halliburton, Hewlett Packard, HOERBIGER, Hoffinger Industries, General Motors, Health Net, IBM, Intel, ITT, Johnson & Johnson, Johnson Valves, Lear Siegler, Litton Industries, Lockheed Martin, Loral, McElroy Manufacturing, MonierLifetile, Nalley’s Fine Foods, NCR, Northrop Grumman, Pacific Scientific, Packard Bell, Paper Pak, Parker Hannifin, Peerless Trailers, PG&E, Phelps Dodge, Pilkington International, Plantronics, Proxima, Quotron, Rain Bird, Reda Pumps, R.W. Lyall, Schlumberger, Siemens, Signet Scientific, Sony Corporation, Stauber Nutritional, Sun Microsystems, Sybron Dental Specialties, Taylor Guitars, Technicolor, Teledyne, Tellabs, Teradata, Teradyne, Thornwood Furniture, Toshiba Corporation, Trailmobile, Tropitone, Tycom Industries, Tylan Corp., United Technologies, U.S. Borax, the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Navy, Warner Bros., Whittaker International and Xerox.

He speaks internationally on finance and manufacturing topics. He has addressed APICS, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), the Product Development Management Association (PDMA), the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the National Association of Accountants (NAA), and the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). His articles have been published in several trade journals.

Mr. Dunn is the recipient of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) 2007 Director of the Year Award. He serves on the boards of directors of both public and privately held international companies. He is an active member of APICS, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the National Council of Corporate Directors (NACD). He was independent director of the Society of Cost Management.

He is qualified by APICS as a Certified Practitioner in Inventory and Production Management (CPIM). Mr. Dunn has a degree in business management from California State University, Fullerton.


This course is held on the Caltech campus in Pasadena, California.

Hours and Credits: Participants will earn 2.4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

Participants are required to bring a digital camera (or camera phone) and a laptop computer to class.


Contact us at 626.395.4042 or ctme@caltech.edu for more details.