Introduction to DfMA: Design for Manufacturing and Assembly

It’s in our DNA to be innovative here at Henderson. And to us, part of being innovative means creating efficiency. Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) – an emerging approach in the AEC world – has been vital in our exploration of how to continue pushing boundaries through our designs while still keeping efficiency in mind. As Henderson’s Director of Innovation and Research, I’m excited to share more about DfMA and how we’re applying it in our projects.

Rooted in manufacturing, DfMA is a combination of two strategies: Design for Manufacturing (DfM) and Design for Assembly (DfA). Both strategies share a philosophy but are viewed through different lenses. DfM focuses on creation: How can we ensure the manufacture of a component is as efficient and effective as possible? DfA, on the other hand, focuses on use: How will the component be used (assembled), and how can it be designed for a streamlined assembly?

DfMA combines these strategies to optimize value. An effective way to reduce cost is to limit the types of components used for a specific case. For example, there’s no need to select from 10 unique widgets if most use cases can be covered by three or fewer types, thus reducing manufacturing efforts. Similarly, by streamlining assembly (object weight and size, complexity of assembly, etc.), cost can be reduced during that phase (labor costs = labor quantity x labor time).

Applying a DfMA mindset to traditional engineering principals offers a multitude of potential advantages such as cost savings, reduced project time, reduced waste, improved quality, and improved safety. By working with manufacturers to understand how building systems components are created, and how those components are physically installed in the field, we can attempt to unlock value through design.

We’ve started to explore DfMA in our projects at Henderson.

Recently, we worked with U.S. Engineering Innovations and developed a duct module component. Our design team was able to develop specific tools centered around the utilization of this module to improve our project delivery.

We’ll be sharing a deep dive into how DfMA came to life in this collaboration, so check back soon for the full scoop. In the meantime, reach out if you want to learn more.


Written By
Sean Turner

Innovation & Research Director | Associate


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