Function Analysis (FAST analysis)

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Function Analysis System Technique is an evolution of the value analysis process created by Charles Bytheway. FAST permits people with different technical backgrounds to effectively communicate and resolve issues that require multi-disciplined considerations. FAST builds upon VA by linking the simply expressed, verb-noun functions to describe complex systems. FAST is not an end product or result, but rather a beginning. It describes the item or system under study and causes the team to think through the functions that the item or system performs, forming the basis for a wide variety of subsequent approaches and analysis techniques. FAST contributes significantly to perhaps the most important phase of value engineering: function analysis. FAST is a creative stimulus to explore innovative avenues for performing functions.

The FAST diagram or model is an excellent communications vehicle. Using the verb-noun rules in function analysis creates a common language, crossing all disciplines and technologies. It allows multi-disciplined team members to contribute equally and communicate with one another while addressing the problem objectively without bias or preconceived conclusions. With FAST, there are no right or wrong model or result. The problem should be structured until the product development team members are satisfied that the real problem is identified. After agreeing on the problem statement, the single most important output of the multi-disciplined team engaged in developing a FAST model is consensus. Since the team has been charged with the responsibility of resolving the assigned problem, it is their interpretation of the FAST model that reflects the problem statement that's important. The team members must discuss and reconfigure the FAST model until consensus is reached and all participating team members are satisfied that their concerns are expressed in the model. Once consensus has been achieved, the FAST model is complete and the team can move on to the next creative phase.

FAST differs from value analysis in the use of intuitive logic to determine and test function dependencies and the graphical display of the system in a function dependency diagram or model. Another major difference is in analyzing a system as a complete unit, rather than analyzing the components of a system. When studying systems it becomes apparent that functions do not operate in a random or independent fashion. A system exists because functions form dependency links with other functions, just as components form a dependency link with other components to make the system work. The importance of the FAST approach is that it graphically displays function dependencies and creates a process to study function links while exploring options to develop improved systems. There are normally two types of FAST diagrams, the technical FAST diagram and the customer FAST diagram. A technical FAST diagram is used to understand the technical aspects of a specific portion of a total product. A customer FAST diagram focuses on the aspects of a product that the customer cares about and does not delve into the technicalities, mechanics or physics of the product. A customer FAST diagram is usually applied to a total product. CREATING A FAST MODEL

The FAST model has a horizontal directional orientation described as the HOW-WHY dimension. This dimension is described in this manner because HOW and WHY questions are asked to structure the logic of the system's functions. Starting with a function, we ask HOW that function is performed to develop a more specific approach. This line of questioning and thinking is read from left to right. To abstract the problem to a higher level, we ask WHY is that function performed. This line of logic is read from right to left. There is essential logic associated with the FAST HOW-WHY directional orientation. First, when undertaking any task it is best to start with the goals of the task, then explore methods to achieve the goals. When addressing any function on the FAST model with the question WHY, the function to its left expresses the goal of that function. The question HOW, is answered by the function on the right, and is a method to perform that function being addressed. A systems diagram starts at the beginning of the system and ends with its goal. A FAST model, reading from left to right, starts with the goal, and ends at the beginning of the "system" that will achieve that goal.

Second, changing a function on the HOW-WHY path affects all of the functions to the right of that function. This is a domino effect that only goes one way, from left to right. Starting with any place on the FAST model, if a function is changed the goals are still valid (functions to the left), but the method to accomplish that function, and all other functions on the right, are affected. Finally, building the model in the HOW direction, or function justification, will focus the team's attention on each function element of the model. Whereas, reversing the FAST model and building it in its system orientation will cause the team to leap over individual functions and focus on the system, leaving function "gaps" in the system. A good rule to remember in constructing a FAST Model is to build in the HOW direction and test the logic in the WHY direction. The vertical orientation of the FAST model is described as the WHEN direction. This is not part of the intuitive logic process, but it supplements intuitive thinking. WHEN is not a time orientation, but indicates cause and effect. Scope lines represent the boundaries of the study and are shown as two vertical lines on the FAST model. The scope lines bound the "scope of the study", or that aspect of the problem with which the study team is concerned. The left scope line determines the basic function(s) of the study. The basic functions will always be the first function(s) to the immediate right of the left scope line. The right scope line identifies the beginning of the study and separates the input function(s) from the scope of the study. The objective or goal of the study is called the "Highest Order Function", located to the left of the basic function(s) and outside of the left scope line. Any function to the left of another function is a "higher order function". Functions to the right and outside of the right scope line represent the input side that "turn on" or initiate the subject under study and are known as lowest order functions. Any function to the right of another function is a "lower order" function and represents a method selected to carry out the function being addressed. Those function(s) to the immediate right of the left scope line represent the purpose or mission of the product or process under study and are called Basic Function(s). Once determined, the basic function will not change. If the basic function fails, the product or process will lose its market value. All functions to the right of the basic function(s) portray the conceptual approach selected to satisfy the basic function. The concept describes the method being considered, or elected, to achieve the basic function(s). The concept can represent either the current conditions (as is) or proposed approach (to be). As a general rule, it is best to create a "to be" rather than an "as is" FAST Model, even if the assignment is to improve an existing product. This approach will give the product development team members an opportunity to compare the "ideal" to the "current" and help resolve how to implement the differences. Working from an "as is" model will restrict the team's attention to incremental improvement opportunities. An "as is" model is useful for tracing the symptoms of a problem to its root cause, and exploring ways to resolve the problem, because of the dependent relationship of functions that form the FAST model. Any function on the HOW-WHY logic path is a logic path function. If the functions along the WHY direction lead into the basic function(s), than they are located on the major logic path. If the WHY path does not lead directly to the basic function, it is a minor logic path. Changing a function on the major logic path will alter or destroy the way the basic function is performed. Changing a function on a minor logic path will disturb an independent (supporting) function that enhances the basic function. Supporting functions are usually secondary and exist to achieve the performance levels specified in the objectives or specifications of the basic functions or because a particular approach was chosen to implement the basic function(s). Independent functions describe an enhancement or control of a function located on the logic path. They do not depend on another function or method selected to perform that function. Independent functions are located above the logic path function(s), and are considered secondary, with respect to the scope, nature, level of the problem, and its logic path. An example of a FAST Diagram for a pencil is shown below.

Image:Fast Diagram.jpg

Adapted from an example developed by J. Jerry Kaufman

The next step in the process is to dimension the FAST model or to associate information to its functions. FAST dimensions include, but are not limited to: responsibility, budgets, allocated target costs, estimated costs, actual costs, subsystem groupings, placing inspection and test points, manufacturing processes, positioning design reviews, and others. There are many ways to dimension a FAST model. The two popular ways are called Clustering Functions and the Sensitivity Matrix. Clustering functions involves drawing boundaries with dotted lines around groups of functions to configure sub-systems. Clustering functions is a good way to illustrate cost reduction targets and assign design-to-cost targets to new design concepts. For cost reduction, a team would develop an "as is" product FAST model, cluster the functions into subsystems, allocate product cost by clustered functions, and assign target costs. During the process of creating the model, customer sensitivity functions can be identified as well as opportunities for significant cost improvements in design and production. Following the completion of the model, the subsystems can be divided among product development teams assigned to achieve the target cost reductions. The teams can then select cost sensitive sub-systems and expand them by moving that segment of the model to a lower level of abstraction. This exposes the detail components of that assembly and their function/cost contributions.

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