Faced with competitive environments, pressure to lower development costs and aggressive timelines engineers are not only increasingly adopting numerical simulation techniques but are also embracing design optimization schemes to augment their efforts. These techniques not only provide more understanding of the trade-offs but are also capable of proactively guiding the decision making process. However, design optimization and exploration tools have struggled to find complete acceptance and are typically underutilized in many applications; especially in situations where the algorithms have to compete with existing swift decision making processes. In this paper we demonstrate how the type of setup and algorithmic choice can have an influence and make optimization more lucrative in a new product development atmosphere. We also present some results from a design exploration activity, involving linkage and structural development, of an earth moving machine application. The kinematic requirements in this study, involving point layout and performance requirements, were evaluated using an in house code and structural aspects, involving yield, buckling and weld fatigue requirements, were evaluated by using Nastran and FE-SAFE. The development plan broke the tasks into two optimization stages, kinematic and structural optimization, which were executed sequentially using optimization algorithms in HEEDS. The results demonstrate that the optimization activities not only lead to designs with a better performance, lower mass and reduced cost but also realized a significantly shorter turnaround time.