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When Design for Manufacturing Requires Reverse Engineering

Posted by Doug Parham on Mar 4, 2016 4:04:37 PM

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Finding Solutions through Back-Tracking the Design

You’re upgrading a system and see that the cable assembly looks worn out, but can’t find the specs to recreate it. The supplier you used to rely on seems to have slipped in quality and no longer completes the box build to your standards. A component in your existing supply chain is not available or it might be cost effective for you to source it elsewhere. Your harnessing needs to be reworked, but you want it to perform as closely to the existing configurations as possible—and you aren’t sure where to start—or who to go to for help. Sound familiar?

design_for_manufacturing_reverse_engineering.jpgHave you ever had a product you wanted or needed to replace, but you had no idea where to start or who could help you if the original manufacturer could not be found? The solution is easy enough: if the original manufacturer is nowhere to be found, reverse engineer it!

Providing Solutions with Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering is a widely used practice in many industries worldwide. In fact, there are companies that are highly specialized in only this. Reverse engineering is a re-creation process that looks at the way something was designed to function and how it was physically built. In the case of a replacement part, this process would be carefully documented to help in the re-creation of that product, be it a cable assembly, box build, or harnessing—or whatever your product may be. A huge upside to the reverse engineering process is that very often an improved way of manufacturing is discovered. One of Fourstar's key capabilities is design for manufacturing. Reverse engineering helps us, and you, on both sides of that equation.

What We Need when You Request Reverse Engineering

If you are making a request for a product to be reverse engineered, here are the elements that help us complete that process most efficiently:

Supply any and every bit of info: Any information known about your product, the parts, and the process should accompany the request, even if any details seem to be insignificant. Every little bit helps. There may be an old schematic, notes someone had jotted down, or even a photograph or two may be available. You might interview a senior employee who has relevant history related to the product, parts, or process.

Accurate component identification: The most important aspect of reverse engineering is accurate component identification. Age, damage, and usage may contribute to the inability to recognize a component. A component may have been handled so much that the labelling may be illegible. A component may have been damaged due to a lightning strike, or even a power surge to the extent that it is unrecognizable. In cases such as these, existing information is extremely helpful to make and deliver a properly functioning product.

Cable assembly functionality: In the case of cabling, all that is required is a known, properly functioning cable assembly. With that, we would trace conductors using continuity testing, get accurate measurements of lengths and connection locations, and document the findings. Armed with this info, we can build an assembly with repeatability.

The First and Last Rule

Really, the first and last rule is that any information that you can be provide in the beginning of the project is helpful. We’ll work with you through every step to get you the product you want—and often an even better one.

We are experts at design for manufacturing. To find out how Fourstar can provide solutions and create new capabilities for your next manufacturing job, contact us for a Prelim Eval to see how we can work together. Let’s get started on your next design; send us your drawing or call our sales department.

This article is co-authored by Juvenalia Chaves. 







Topics: design for manufacturing, reverse engineering

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Finding a Better Way

Fourstar partners with leading companies to problem solve, innovate, and find better ways for New Product Introduction (NPI) and Design for Manufacturing (DFM) initiatives.

What you get:

  • Our project management and manufacturing expertise
  • Comprehensive range of products and solutions
  • Advanced IT systems
  • Exceptional customer support

From cable assemblies to complex box build solutions, we can quickly ramp up to meet target dates and volume requirements. We are dedicated to helping you improve program efficiency, enhance product performance, speed time to market, and lower total cost of product.

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