Set-Based Concurrent Engineering

Set-based engineering means looking at a all the possibilities and delaying the decision until the last possible moment (the Integration Milestone). In the west most people practice Point-Based Engineering, i.e. looking at only a few possible solutions (often only one), and choosing one as early as possible, then having to retrace their steps when that does not work.

In Japan, and particularly within Toyota, they practice 'set-based' engineering. i.e. they study a set of possible solutions and make their final decision as to which one to take forward at the last possible moment when they have the maximum amount of information as to which would be the best solution.

Intentionally Identify Multiple Solutions
Encourage Discussion from All Points of View
Used Trade-Off Curves
Capture Past Knowledge in
Use System Methods
bulletParametric Design
Have Structured Time Early

Elite's View

At first sight set-based engineering may appear to be inefficient, and if it was possible to make the correct choice earlier, indeed it would be. However the experience of Western-style point based methods where an early choice is made, is that it is often wrong and the efficiency gain is lost in re-work.

In other words if your designer is a genius who always gets it right first time, point-based is best. If he is human, then set-based is based.

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