Introduction to PROKON
Introduction to PROKON
The ProKon System is a comprehensive tool for improving the manufacturing process, during the design phase of product development. ProKon is applicable in the field of production (e. g., chip removing processes), as well as, in the field of assembly. It is also an analytical tool for the design optimization resulting in an effective method of cost avoidance. The term ProKon is an acronym for the German words Produktionsgerechte Konstruktion (production-oriented design).
Today’s market place is increasingly characterized by:
– Shorter product life cycles
– Increasing numbers of variants
– Increasing frequency of product innovations
– Shorter development times
– Increasingly complex development tasks
The following chart illustrates the situation regarding product development, using a magic triangle, where the arrows indicate the effect of changes caused by the illustrated influencing factors.
Subsequent changes to products, production techniques and methods are normally difficult to achieve and very cost-intensive. This correlation is illustrated by the following graph:
An investigation by the Ford Motor Company showed that the expenses for product design amount to about 5 % of the total product costs, while the final product design determines 70 % of the manufacturing costs.
A large part of manufacturing costs is caused by production activities (parts processing and assembly).
To reduce these costs, the approach must be to avoid costs by taking appropriate measures to minimize these costs during the development and design phases.
This is not a new idea. The physician and writer Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799) described
this perfectly: “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”
By designing the product for ease of assembly, it is possible to reduce the manufacturing costs (production and material costs) by approximately 20 % to 40 %.
ProKon – Definition, Advantages and Limitations
ProKon is an MTM-based method for analyzing and evaluating design solutions with respect to their suitability for assembly. ProKon supports the systematic identification of possible improvements in design solutions and the quantification of the effect these solutions have on productivity.
ProKon describes the assembly process of components and sub-assemblies during the design phase. The influencing factors affecting the assembly are defined as analyzing criteria, represented by basic values or assembly interferences. For each of these analyzing criteria, a numerical value – a ProKon Unit (PU) – was defined. In the assembly of a product, the total of all ProKon Units per analyzing criterion establishes a relative measure regarding the ease of assembly of the product design.
Advantages of the Application of ProKon
– Identification of assembly interferences at the earliest possible point of time
– Quantification of the identified assembly interferences
– Target-oriented reduction of the identified assembly interferences
– Creation of valuable basic information for further process planning
– Promotion of cross-functional communication
– Avoidance of subsequent product changes
Advantages of the Methodology
– ProKon offers high analyzing speed
– ProKon is easy to learn
– ProKon enhances the designer’s creativity, thus supporting the creative process
Applications and Limitations of the ProKon Method
In general, assembly activities can be classified into the following categories:
The ProKon analysis DOES NOT describe the actual assembly process, which considers such issues as:
– Two-handed work
– Workstation design
– Motion pattern
Normally, the designer does not know which non value-adding activities are involved and therefore, cannot take them into consideration during the design phase. These activities can only be optimized after the actual design phase, i.e., during the planning phase (through the application of MTM building block systems). Therefore, the application of ProKon is based on information available at the corresponding point of time during the product development phase. This information includes drawings, multi-level bills of material, prototypes, models or previously manufactured products.
Identifying and assessing weak points in the design that cause assembly interferences
– Giving new impetus to the target-oriented optimization of the product design
– Designing ergonomically favorable solutions
– Standardizing processes (quality improvement) by establishing a uniform platform and creating
– modules, which can be used again.
Application Fields of ProKon
In practice, the use of ProKon, as part of the MTM Design Concept, directly or indirectly affects:
– Production facilities
– Occupational health and safety
ProKon does not replace:
– MTM (Methods-Time Measurement), a technique used to design work processes (business processes) through describing, structuring, planning and analyzing/synthesizing, using process building blocks, defined with respect to contents and time. MTM systematically structures and arranges processes and visualizes influencing factors. This procedure aims at arriving at the ideal design of a work system from the start of the design phase
– Value Analysis, a technique used to describe the functions of a product and evaluate them based on establishing a relationship to the product costs, including the complete manufacturing process and material usage FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis), a technique used to reveal possible product faults during the development phase
– RPS (Reference-Point-System), a technique used to design production systems with a level of process-reliability and accuracy of repetition, such that the assembly activities become independent of both the worker and the required set-up jobs
Benchmarking is one of the more frequently applied methods focusing on higher quality and increased productivity. With the help of benchmarking, it is possible to compare products. In the continuous benchmarking process, products and techniques are measured against the strongest competitor or against companies that are considered to be market leaders. In this respect, benchmarking is a technique used to determine the position of one’s own company in the market place in comparison with other companies. In addition, it is used to evaluate and benchmark one’s own product family. The comparison provides indices (benchmarks) that can serve as guidelines for the development of new products.
ProKon is the ideal tool for the determination of such indices. More importantly, it is intended to compare constructional features of different products or to develop a new product and describe the differences between this new product and products already established in the market. Benchmark studies in different branches of industry have resulted in the development of a benchmarking project-management process, i.e., one that may be transferred directly to the procedures in ProKon analyses.
The benchmark process can be roughly described as follows:
From the point of view of comparing the ease of assembly of products, benchmarking has gained new impetus with the introduction of ProKon. With ProKon, potential design solutions can be evaluated – not only with respect to quality, but also with respect to quantity. This approach demands a general willingness to learn from others, i.e., from other departments in one’s own company, as well as, from other companies. By this means, a decisive contribution to long-term competitiveness is made.
Example Benchmark Taillight
Basic Principles for Working with ProKon
The cost required for an assembly depends on various assembly interferences, such as:
– Main dimension
– Number of positioning locations
– Accessibility/impeded sight at the assembly or positioning location
– Required adjustments
ProKon is a method for analyzing the ease of assembly of products. The analysis provides quantified steps for possible improvements to the product.
ProKon analysis begins with the model concept of the new product. On this basis, an initial product structure is worked out, including features such as:
– Main assemblies, assemblies, sub-assemblies
– Components (parts)
Example Product structure; “bicycle” with exploded “gear shift” (main assembly)
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Minimizing stress situations
“We’re also carrying out process analyses in the nursing area. This has the crucial benefit that it is easier to plan human resources needs, minimize stress situations and, at the same time, guarantee excellent nursing care or even improve it.”
Dr. Stefan Beyer, Managing Director, Vital-Kliniken GmbH
Ergonomics and economics
“MTM makes a significant contribution towards reconciling an increase in productivity and ergonomics. Because the basis for any increase in productivity is firstly the technical preparation work, the industrial equipment, but also the work design for the employees. When there’s an increase in productivity, there’s greater physical pressure for the employee – and the MTMergonomics analysis allows us to classify the level of this pressure.”
Harald Ebner, Head of Disk Brakes Unit, Knorr-Bremse Systeme für Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH, Aldersbach
"The introduction of the ERGO-UAS system has dramatically changed the way of developing the new products and of managing Production and the Industrial Relations. No motion can be designed, implemented and executed in our company without the scientific assessment of the biomechanical load generated by the motion itself. The paradigm "more productivity less health" has been turned into the new "more productivity more health" and the ERGO-UAS system has become one of the fundamental pillar of our production system"
Luigi Gennaro Galante, VP Manufacturing EMEA, Fiat Group Automobiles SpA