If scale is the biggest challenge in development, as we believe, then designing an enterprise that can quickly and efficiently scale up is the biggest hurdle the designer must overcome. And if your business is to manufacture and market a ruthlessly affordable physical product, then you’ll need to understand the logic of assembly-line manufacturing — even if you plan to manufacture locally at numerous sites.
Assembly-line manufacturing requires both interchangeable parts and a production process that minimizes human effort and eliminates downtime by making the best possible use of available space and arranging the sequence of steps in production in the most efficient manner possible. Popular conceptions of the process typically focus on the specialization of labor, because that’s the most significant implication for the people involved. However, these other factors are equally significant in design for scale.
Manufacturing at scale is possible through distributed (decentralized) production facilities only if parts or modules are precisely machined to near-zero tolerances and available space and the sequence of steps on the assembly line have been optimized.
Paul Polak and Mal Warwick’s award-winning book, The Business Solution to Poverty, highlights 20 “takeaways” that encapsulate much of the book’s essence. Today we have featured the fifteenth of those takeaways. Future posts will include others.