Introduction to FAST part 1

Reducing Process Cost with Lean, Six Sigma, and Value Engineering Techniques

Reducing Process Cost with Lean, Six Sigma, and Value Engineering Techniques

Below is an excerpt from our book Pries, K., & Quigley, J. (2013). Classical Techniques. In Reducing process costs with lean, six sigma, and value engineering techniques (pp. 133-135). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

 FAST Introduction

FAST is an acronym for functional analysis system technique. FAST allows us to reduce ambiguity in the definition of a functional product or a functional process (and probably fro some dysfunctional one also!).  Value of a product is interpreted differently by different customers.  Characteristics that are common to value are high level of performance, capability, emotional appeal, and style relative to its cost (see figure below).  Value is generally expressed in terms of maximizing the function of a product relative to its cost:

Value = (Performance + Capability) / Cost

Value = Function / Cost

Our FAST diagram thus far.

Our FAST diagram thus far.

Value is not minimizing cost. Though, for some cases, we can influence the value of a product by increasing its function (performance or capability) and cost as long as the added function increases more quickly than its added cost.  The concept of functional worth is important, which is, the lowest cost to provide the given function.

Lawrence D Miles[1] is the father of modern value analysis and value engineering.  His first key concept was the idea of “use function.”  A product could have us functions or aesthetic functions.  Use functions require and action to occur while aesthetic functions please the end customer.

Miles Identified three steps related to initial investigation into functions:

  1. Identification
  2. Clarification
  3. Naming

He required functions to be stated in exact sentences. In order to make the process ostensibly simpler, he required a verb and a noun, producing short phrases that look like miniature sentences written in the imperative mood. For example, we might use:

  1. Generate torque
  2. Control vibration
  3. Fasten panel
  4. Bill customer

The first example is particularly valuable because we can measure torque with appropriate devices, which suggests that we want to choose nouns we can measure, for example:

  1. Volts
  2. Amperes
  3. Ohms
  4. Length

Any scalar value is a good candidate for a functional noun and simplifies the process of measuring cost.  Verbs must be precise and describe an action, making the exercise more difficult than it might appear at a first glance.  With FAST, all functions must be in a verb-noun format.

Mile’s second key concept was that of the aesthetic function. Aesthetic functions are specified the same way we specify use functions. For example:

  1. Reduce noise
  2. Improve Visibility (might also be a use function)
  3. Minimize duration (in other words, reduce time it takes)
Use of verb-noun becomes quite difficult as we dig more deeply.
Use of verb-noun becomes quite difficult as we dig more deeply.

With both use functions an aesthetic functions, we provide that for which the customer is willing to pay. We might guess that we have some cost opportunities in the aesthetic area, with higher end automobiles being an example of aesthetic function for profit.

[1] Miles, Lawrence D. Techniques of Value Analysis and Engineering, 3rd Edition Washington, DC” Lawrence D Miles Value Foundation., 1989.

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