It's a sign of America's throwaway culture that consumers often toss out products costing hundreds of dollars because they are so expensive to repair. Geoffrey Boothroyd and Peter Dewhurst, professors of industrial engineering at the University of Rhode Island, think this trend has gone too far. They've decided it is time again to change the way products get designed. They did it once before, in the late 1980s, when they developed software for Design for Manufacturability (DFM) and Assembly (DFA) that continues to help companies slash production costs.
Design for Service (DFS) will be the next product from their company, Boothroyd Dewhurst Inc. in Wakefield, R.I. Slated for launch in April, DFS will point designers toward changes that would make a product easier to repair. This mainly involves assuring that the things most likely to need servicing are "in the outer layers of the onion," says Dew-hurst. Eight members of an industrial consortium at the university, including DuPont, Ford, and Xerox, have ordered the $14,500 software.