Unit 5. Value Engineering

1. Answer the following questions:

  1. Value engineering looks to optimizing costs by eliminating wasteful practices. How does it do this?
  2. When did engineers first start to apply principles of value engineering?
  3. What is the first step in value engineering?

2. Read the text and retell its summary.

What is value engineering?

Value engineering is a method by which a company tries to improve the value of its products. In business, value is ratio of function to cost. Value can be increased either by improving function or by reducing cost. One of the basic principles in value engineering is that when trying to achieve better value, you do not make sacrifices in the quality of the product. Basically, what we as value engineers are trying to do is to optimize the balance of function and cost. We do this by looking for and identifying any expense that is unnecessary. This way, we improve the value of our products for us and for our customers.

The concept of value engineering appeared by accident. During the Second War, General Electric suffered shortage of raw materials and parts of components. So they had to look for adequate substitutes. They found that in many cases, the use of substitute materials reduced production costs or improved a product or even produced both effects. So, what started as a necessity because of the war became part of company policy. Over time, this concept came to be known as value engineering.

Basically, there are four main steps of applying value engineering to product manufacturing. First, analyzing the functions of a product and trying to determine which functions are important. The following questions should be asked: What does this product have to do? What else could it do? What must this product not do?

The second step is alternatives. We ask ourselves: What other ways could we achieve the same result? What else will give us the function we want? Then, thirdly, we evaluate all the alternatives and compare them with the product as it actually is and we work out how much we would save if we did things a different way. Then, lastly, we chose the best option and present our findings and recommendations to the production department.

There are some value engineering principles which are constantly applied in the process of product production:

1. Efficient use of energy: reduce costs and add value to a product by making it more energy-efficient.

2. Cheaper substitute materials: replace expensive materials with cheaper ones that function just as well. If a product is only expected to last for ten years, t wasteful to use materials that last much longer. In a perfect value engineering product, all materials wear out at the same time.

3. Efficiency and producibility: redesign products to make them more producible and adopt, more efficient production processes. Eliminate unnecessary parts, unnecessary standards of precision, and any unnecessary steps in the production process.

4. Modules and subassemblies: use multipurpose components that can be reused in a number of slightly different products. In this way, save on original engineering and design costs.

5. Customer feedback: a product that has more features than customers actually want is wasteful and inefficient. Redesign a product so that it matches exactly what most customers want. Extras can then be sold as options.

Value engineering looks to optimizing costs by eliminating wasteful practices.

3. Vocabulary:

  1. value engineering – организация экономичной деятельности, стоимостное проектирование (цель – минимизация затрат без ущерба для качества продукции и без вреда для потребителя) (English-Russian dictionary of accounting and auditing, 2005г)
  2. to increase – увеличить;
  3. to reduce (cost) – сократить; уменьшить цену;
  4. to achieve – достичь;
  5. sacrifice – жертва;
  6. expense – затраты;
  7. improve – улучшать;
  8. customers – клиенты, покупатели;
  9. by accident – случайно;
  10. suffered – пострадал;
  11. shortage – нехватка;
  12. raw materials – сырье;
  13. parts of components – элементы компонентов;
  14. adequate – достаточный;
  15. substitute materials – товары-заменители;
  16. company policy – политика компании;
  17. to determine – определять;
  18. energy-efficient – энергосберегающий;
  19. wasteful – неэкономичный, расточительный;
  20. efficiency – эффективность;
  21. producibility – производительность;
  22. to redesign – доработать, переконструировать;
  23. producible – производимый;
  24. to eliminate – устранять, исключать;
  25. precision – точность, правильность;
  26. subassemblies – сборочные узлы, сборка;
  27. multipurpose components – многоцелевые компоненты;
  28. customer feedback – покупательский отзыв.

4. Read about this real-life cases and, discuss which of the value engineering principles listed in the text are being applied in each cas

reduce unnecessary parts use cheaper substitute materials reduce unnecessary precision

  1. As long as they do not leak, the welded joints on Russian rocket motors are allowed to look ugly. Grinding and finishing the welds adds cost but does not make the motors function any better.
  2. The accepted margin for disc brake components on some Japanese cars is 3 millimeters, which is not at all difficult to achieve. Even with this level of tolerance, fewer than one in a million parts do not fit.
  3. On some computer circuit boards, the conductors are made in such a way that they also act as resistors and inductors as well, thus eliminating the need to include these components.
  4. Japanese manufactures of printed circuit boards, use phenolic resin and even paper to reduce costs. They also use just one or two copper layers but without affecting the quality of the finished product.
  5. Many car manufactures actively look to reducing the numbers and types of fasteners that they use.

5. Match the branch of study with the object of study. One of the words is not a branch of study.

branch of studyobject of study
1) dynamicsa) systems in a state of rest
2) kinematicsb) electronics with mechanical engineering
3) ergonomicsc) motion and machinery
4) logisticsd) force and motion
5) mechanicse) design for human comfort
6) mechatronicsf) energy and environment
7) thermodynamicsg) motion without considering the forces responsible
8) staticsh) ratio of function to cost

6. Complete the sentences with a suitable word from the box. Using the plural form if necessary. There is an extra word.

aviation module playtest subassembly trilemma value welding

  1. One of the main aims of ________ value engineering is to increase the ratio of function to cost.
  2. __________ are conducted on computer games before they are put on the market.
  3. __________ engineering is concerned with the design and production of aircraft.
  4. Trying to satisfy three criteria – for example, high quality, low cost and speed of production – when only two can realistically be met is a classic __________.
  5. _________ and _________ are examples of multipurpose components that can be adapted easily for use in a variety of manufactured products.

7. Complete the lists of desirable design values with the correct nouns and adjectives.

Noun / noun phraseAdjective / adjective phrase
1) durabilitydurable
2) attractiveness
3) low cost
4) reliable
5) safety
6) high quality
7) ease of use
8) compact
9) light weight
10) cost efficiency

8. Write a description of a technical, industrial, or manufacturing process using the passive voice. Use the verb participles from the box plus any other verbs you know.


The metal is heated. The components are assembled. The metal parts are attached to the base.

  • Assembled
  • Constructed
  • Heared
  • Manufactured
  • Extracted
  • Joined
  • Processed
  • Selected
  • Placed
  • Removed
  • Tested
  • Connected
  • Studied
  • Cleaned
  • Converted
  • Inserted
  • Programmed
  • Treated
  • Evaluated
  • Measured
  • Separated

Grammar Practice:

Verbs combinations with infinitive forms (table 1)

Verbs that form combination with infinitiveExamples
  • afford
  • expect
  • agree
  • help
  • aim
  • hope
  • appear
  • manage
  • arrange
  • need
  • choose
  • omit
  • claim
  • promise
  • consent
  • refuse
  • decide
  • tend
  • demand
  • threaten
  1. He claims to be the best person for the job.
  2. Finally, they consented to talk about the proposal.
  3. The question is whether we can afford to do it.
  4. It appears to be some sort of semiconductor.
  5. This company aims to manufacture the best products on the market.

Verb combinations with gerund forms (table 2)

Verbs that form combination with infinitiveExamples
  • avoid
  • go on
  • be no good
  • be used to
  • consider
  • be worth
  • delay
  • keep on
  • dislike
  • postpone
  • enjoy
  • resume
  • envisage
  • risk
  • finish
  • suggest
  • give up
  • think about
  • mention
  • miss
  1. Have you considered moving to another company?
  2. He’s used to working under pressure.
  3. I can envisage restructing the whole operation.
  4. Have you finished checking those figures yet?

1. Complete each sentence with the correct form of one of the expressions from the box (table 2).

  1. If we don’t upgrade and improve our products, we ___________ losing sales.
  2. They soon fixed the problem and were able to ___________ working quite quickly.
  3. Plan A is good, I admit. But plan B is also_______ thinking about.
  4. We implemented a quality control program, but sales _______ on falling.
  5. My boss, like most bosses, __________ being interrupted.
  6. This component is not working. Maybe we should __________ redesigning it.
  7. I think we should ___________ taking a final decision until we have seen more data.

2. Underline the correct form in each sentence.

  1. I enjoy (seeing / to see) a project through to completion.
  2. Sometimes I ask myself, “Is it worth (to stay / staying) here?
  3. In the end, we managed (to improve / improving) the efficiency of the engine.
  4. The company is considering (moving / to move) the factory to another side.
  5. We expect (seeing / to see) a big improvement in quality.
  6. She was so angry that she threatened ( to resign / resigning).
  7. It’s no good (complaining / to complain) now that the decision has been made.
  8. I’ve arranged (having / to have) the prototype tested externally.