Right First Time Design

How do you design Right First Time?

Chris Blockley, 

Romax Technology is built on the ethos of Right First Time design. Instilled by founder and MBE Dr. Peter Poon, Right First Time doesn’t necessarily mean you do things ‘right the first time you try’. It means setting a culture that uses reflection and learning to strive towards perfection. With this in place, Right First Time design is possible. It’s in iterating the finer details to adjust, adapt, learn and look at something anew, that the magic truly appears. One can fully utilise their experience and expertise to reduce engineering errors, improve performance and increase product refinement – within a design process that enables innovative and optimised designs.

A focus on reflective design practices allows us to implement a framework of knowledge capture and continuous improvement. Herein lies the utility of Right First Time: to empower you to maximise your design potential through unlocking knowledge already accessible to you, and to reflect on your development process and attitude to design with the aim to always create something better.

Right First Time was formulated half a decade ago and enables us to communicate to industry our USPs as a business. The skill of our engineers, our next-generation software development, our passion for research and innovation, all underpinned by our robust, tried and tested Right First Time process.

Since its inception Right First Time has evolved. Alongside this, the very nature of design and simulation must become a philosophy. We can now look at automating aspects of the design process. A combination of design automation and vast engineering experience frees our engineers to focus on proven, powerful design, with the right tools to speed up the design process.

What is Right First Time Design?

Every choice made in the course of developing a product design, whether it be the fundamental architecture selection made early on or the tolerance applied to a single dimension towards the end of the process, follows an incremental decision-making logic:

  1. Given what has already been decided so far, what are the requirements to be fulfilled and the options available for this element of the design that is to be defined?
  2. Having systematically eliminated the infeasible options, what is the most suitable design candidate amongst those remaining?

The end goal is for the cumulative output of all these decisions to be a product definition that fulfils the needs of its stakeholders (customers, users, manufacturers etc.) in terms of function, behaviour, dependability and manufacturability. Step by step verification and validation of the design is therefore essential throughout the process, and a part of any engineering design framework. Right First Time Design aims to drastically reduce the time that design decisions must wait for verification and so reduce the risk of large amounts of design rework. At the same time, we must balance the time spent on the verification tasks, so we focus on:

  • Iterating fast by considering multiple targets and multiple physics together in just enough detail for the decision being made – the ability to do this comes from Romax’s simulation technology expertise built into products like the Romax software suite.
  • Having a system of checkpoints for continually ensuring the correctness of design decisions that is based on appropriate evidence: from simple cross-checks to give confidence multiple times within a day, through more in-depth simulations to give assurance of the design for the complete system of interest and all the way to comprehensive design gateway reviews where the design is validated with stakeholders – the ability to do this comes from the extensive knowledge and experience existing within Romax as a company and developed across various industries and projects.

This philosophy is embedded in a culture of ‘pre-work not re-work’: Right First Time Design is a measure of the engineering approach itself – and good processes produce good results, with less wasted effort.

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Having achieved a MEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cambridge, Chris Blockley has occupied a number of key roles in Romax offices around the world since joining the company in 2005. Chris has extensive experience of the product development process and of troubleshooting, problem resolution and design optimisation for technical issues such as NVH and durability.