How to implement and apply robust design: insights from industrial practice

Lars Krogstie, Martin Ebro, Thomas J. Howard

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Robust design (RD) is a framework for designing products and processes which perform consistently in spite of variations. Although it is well described in literature, research shows limited industrial application. The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss industrial best-practice on RD. Empirical findings are based on a series of semi-structured interviews with four major engineering companies in Northern Europe. We present why they were motivated to use RD, how it has been implemented and currently applied. Success factors for solving implementation challenges are also presented and the experienced effects of adopting it are described. The key findings are: (1) Training, roles, and responsibilities: All companies have given substantial training to their engineers and have implemented new roles with technical responsibility, (2) RD implementation is context dependent:
The four case companies have all been successful in using RD but with quite different approaches, depending on, for example, their organisational culture, and (3) Not just management commitment, but also true management competencies in RD are essential for a successful implementation. The paper is aimed at professionals and researchers within the field of engineering design, considering why, if, and how to implement and apply RD in an organisation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTotal Quality Management & Business Excellence (Print)
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)387–1405
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Robust design
  • Product development
  • Industrial practice
  • Management strategy
  • Success factors
  • Variation
  • Tolerances
  • Implementation

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