Difference between New Product Development (NPD) & Industrial Design (ID)

Let us take a step back and walkthrough the definitions as presented earlier in this article.

New Product Development: The process which involves forming strategy, organizing requirements, generating concepts, creating product & marketing plan, evaluating and subsequent commercialization, thereby bringing a new product to the marketplace.

Product development is a complete cycle which starts from market analysis, product specifications to concept/industrial design, costing, scheduling, testing, manufacturing and ends at logistics, customer feedback, improvements and the final act of getting a product into the market.

Industrial Design:The practice of forming concepts and designing products, which are to be manufactured through techniques of mass production.

Product Design is complete process that includes product industrial design, user experience, 3D Cad modeling, design calculations, simulation. Responsibility of a good product design is to make product working as per design specifications. It is safe to say that product industrial design is one of the many stages of NPD. It is a crucial subset of NPD which is necessary for the successful completion of entire development cycle.

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Importance of Product Development(NPD) & Industrial Design(ID) for a business

Over the first fiscal quarter of 2018, Apple accelerated investments in research and development operations spending more than $3.4 billion on new hires and initiatives which will keep the company competitive in a fast-paced tech market.

Product development is like the gasoline that keeps the wheels rolling. But what drives companies to spend valuable resources such as time, money, human capital, etc. on new product development? And why is it so important?

 Here are five reasons:

  • Value for customers

The primary reason for any new product development is to provide value to its customers. The increasing demands of customers for innovation & new technology calls for the need to develop new or existing products. Otherwise, there is no reason to pour in huge amounts of money in the first place.

  • Keeping up with the competition

Staying ahead of the competition should always be the primary goal for any business. And increased competition is one of the major reasons leading to go for new products development. New products give us a competitive advantage over our rivals. Every firm struggles to fulfill and retain consumers by offering exceptional products. To offer more competitive advantage over the other and to satisfy consumer needs more effectively and efficiently, the product innovation seems to be needed.

  • Changing markets

Today’s market is more dynamic as compared to the past; it keeps on changing due to the wide variety of customer needs, all thanks to increased literacy rate, globalized market, heavy competition, and availability of a number of substitute. Consumers are constantly evolving which means their tastes and preferences change with them. It is the changing consumer behavior that drives the innovation and development of products. Plus, it also counters seasonal fluctuations.

  • Explore technology

Just as consumer trends drive new products, advances in technology drives companies to invest in new products. If your company has not upgraded its technology arsenal for ten years, count yourself to be at the last one in the queue within a few years.

  • Reputation and goodwill

Building image and reputation as a dynamic innovation and creative firm boosts a company’s legacy. The new product development is approached. Company desires to convince the market that it works hard to meet customer’s expectations. In fact, company developing new products frequently has more reputation and can easily attract customers.

Industrial design is a very crucial part of the entire new product development process. We are aware of the fact that industrial design develops aspects of a product that create emotional connections with the user. It integrates all aspects of form, fit, and function, hence optimizing them to create the best possible user experience. Industrial design’s role in product development process is to establish the design language of a product, as well as the corporate branding and identity.

How successfully a company is able to carry out development or modification, incorporating the ergonomics aspect, can often determine the success of a product in the market. Firms that leave industrial design to the end of the engineering lifecycle, or out completely will struggle to find success in consumer-driven markets.

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Mesh

For those acquainted with mechanical design and reverse engineering, they can testify to the fact that the road to a new product design involves several steps. In reverse engineering, the summary of the entire process involves scanning, point cloud generation, meshing, computer-aided designing, prototyping and final production. This section covers a very crucial part of the process — Meshing or simply put, Mesh.

To put a simple definition, a mesh is a network that constitutes of cells and points.

Mesh generation is the practice of converting the given set of points into a consistent polygonal model that generates vertices, edges and faces that only meet at shared edges. It can have almost any shape in any size. Each cell of the mesh represents an individual solution, which when combined, results in a solution for the entire mesh.

 

mesh

Mesh is formed of facets which are connected to each other topologically. The topology is created using following entities:

  • Facet - A triangle connecting three data points
  • Edge - A line connecting two data points
  • Vertex - A data point
Mesh Property

Before we proceed to know the types of meshes, it is necessary to understand the various aspects that constitute a mesh. It is important to know the concept of a polygonal mesh.

A polygon mesh is a collection of vertices, edges and faces that defines the shape of a polyhedral object in 3D graphics and solid modeling. The faces usually consist of triangles, quadrilaterals or other simple polygons as that simplifies rendering. It may also be composed of more general concave polygons or polygons with holes.

Objects created with polygon meshes must store different types of elements. These include:

  • Vertex: A position (usually in 3D space) along with other information such as color, normal vector and texture coordinates
  • Edge: A connection between two vertices
  • Face: A closed set of edges, in which a triangle face has three edges, and a quad face has four edges
  • Surfaces: They are often called smoothing groups. Generally, surfaces are not required to group smooth regions

A polygon mesh may be represented in a variety of ways, using different methods to store the vertex, edge and face data. These include:

  • Face-vertex meshes
  • Winged edge meshes
  • Corner tables
  • Vertex-vertex meshes
Types of meshes

Meshes are commonly classified into two divisions, Surface mesh and Solid mesh. Let us go through each section one by one.

Surface Mesh: A surface mesh is a representation of each individual surface constituting a volume mesh. It consists of faces (triangles) and vertices. Depending on the pre-processing software package, feature curves may be included as well.

Generally, a surface mesh should not have free edges and the edges should not be shared by two triangles.

The surface should ideally contain the following qualities of triangle faces:

  • Equilateral sized triangles
  • No sharp angles/surface folds etc. within the triangle proximity sphere
  • Gradual variation in triangle size from one to the next

The surface mesh generation process should be considered carefully. It has a direct influence on the quality of the resulting volume mesh and the effort it takes to get to this step.

surface mesh

Solid Mesh: Solid mesh, also known as volume mesh, is a polygonal representation of the interior volume of an object. There are three different types of meshing models that can be used to generate a volume mesh from a well prepared surface mesh.

The three types of meshing models are as follows:

  • Tetrahedral - tetrahedral cell shape based core mesh
  • Polyhedral - polyhedral cell shape based core mesh
  • Trimmed - trimmed hexahedral cell shape based core mesh

Once the volume mesh has been built, it can be checked for errors and exported to other packages if desired.

solid mesh

Mesh type as per Grid structure

A grid is a cuboid that covers entire mesh under consideration. Grid mainly helps in fast neighbor manipulation for a seed point.

mesh grid

Meshes can be classified into two divisions from the grid perspective, namely Structured and Unstructured mesh. Let us have a look at each of these types.

Structured Mesh: Structured meshes are meshes which exhibits a well-known pattern in which the cells are arranged. As the cells are in a particular order, the topology of such mesh is regular. Such meshes enable easy identification of neighboring cells and points, because of their formation and structure. Structured meshes are applied over rectangular, elliptical, spherical coordinate systems, thus forming a regular grid. Structured meshes are often used in CFD.

structured mesh

Unstructured Mesh: Unstructured meshes, as the name suggests, are more general and can randomly form any geometry shape. Unlike structured meshes, the connectivity pattern is not fixed hence unstructured meshes do not follow a uniform pattern. However, unstructured meshes are more flexible. Unstructured meshes are generally used in complex mechanical engineering projects.

Unstructured Mesh

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Meshing Algorithms

In the previous session, we have learned what Mesh is and the various aspects upon which a mesh can be classified. Mesh generation requires expertise in the areas of meshing algorithms, geometric design, computational geometry, computational physics, numerical analysis, scientific visualization and software engineering to create a mesh tool.

Over the years, mesh generation technology has evolved shoulder to shoulder with increasing hardware capability. Even with the fully automatic mesh generators there are many cases where the solution time is less than the meshing time. Meshing can be used for wide array of applications, however the principal application of interest is the finite element method. Surface domains are divided into triangular or quadrilateral elements, while volume domain is divided mainly into tetrahedral or hexahedral elements. A meshing algorithm can ideally define the shape and distribution of the elements.

A key step of the finite element method for numerical computation is mesh generation algorithms. A given domain is to be partitioned it into simpler ‘elements’. There should be few elements, but some portions of the domain may need small elements so that the computation is more accurate there. All elements should be ‘well shaped’. Let us take a walkthrough of different meshing algorithms based of two common domains, namely quadrilateral/hexahedral mesh and triangle/tetrahedral mesh.

Algorithm methods for Quadrilateral or Hexahedral Mesh

Grid-Based Method

The grid based method involves the following steps:

  • A user defined grid is fitted on 2D & 3D object. It generates quad/ hex elements on the interior of the object.
  • Some patterns are defined for boundary elements followed by forming a boundary element by applying boundary intersection grid.
  • This results in the generation of quadrilateral mesh model.

Mesh Grid based method

 

Medial Axis Method

Medial axis method involves an initial decomposition of the volumes. The method involves few steps as given below:

  • Consider a 2D object with hole.
  • A maximal circle is rolled through the model and the centre of circle traces the medial object.
  • Medial object is used as a tool for automatically decomposing the model in to simple meshable region.
  • Series of templates for the region are formed by the medial axis method to fill the area with quad element.

Mesh Medial axis method

 

Plastering method

Plastering is the process in which elements are placed starting with the boundaries and advancing towards the centre of the volume. The steps of this method are as follows:

  • A 3D object is taken.
  • One hexahedral element is placed at boundary.
  • Individual hexahedral elements are projected towards the interior of the volume to form hexahedral meshing, row by row and element by element.
  • The process is repeated until mesh generation is completed.

Mesh Plastering method

 

Whisker Weaving Method

Whisker weaving is based on the concept of the spatial twist continuum (STC). The STC is the dual of the hexahedral mesh, represented by an arrangement of intersecting surfaces, which bisect hexahedral elements in each direction. The whisker weaving algorithm can be explained as in the following steps:

  • The first step is to construct the STC or dual of the hex mesh.
  • With a complete STC, the hex elements can then be fitted into the volume using the STC as a guide. The loops can be easily determined from an initial quad mesh of the surface.
  • Hexes are then formed inside the volume, once a valid topological representation of the twist planes is achieved. One hex is formed wherever three twist planes converge.

Mesh Whisker weaving method

 

Paving Method

The paving method has the following steps to generate a quadrilateral mesh:

  • Initially a 2D object is taken.
  • A node is inserted in the boundary and the boundary node is considered as loop.
  • A quadrilateral element is inserted and a row of elements is formed.
  • The row of element is placed around the boundary nodes.
  • Again this same procedure adopt for next rows.
  • Finally quad mesh model is formed.

Mesh Paving method

Mesh Paving method

 

Mapping Mesh Method

The Mapped method for quad mesh generation involves the following steps:

  • A 2D object is taken.
  • The 2D object is split into two parts.
  • Each part is either a simple 2D rectangular or a square object.
  • The simple shape object is unit meshed.
  • The unit meshed simple shape object is mapped in its original form and then joined back to form actual object.

Mapping mesh method

Mapping mesh method

 

Algorithm methods for Triangular and Tetrahedral Mesh

Quadtree Mesh Method

With the quadtree mesh method, square containing the geometric model are recursively subdivided until the desired resolution is reached. The steps for two dimensional quadtree decomposition of a model are as follows:

  • A 2D object is taken.
  • The 2D object is divided into rectangular parts.
  • A Detail tree of divided object is provided.
  • The object is eventually converted into triangle mesh.

 Quadtree mesh method

 

Delaunay Triangulation Method

A Delaunay triangulation for a set P of discrete points in the plane is a triangulation DT such that no points in P are inside the circum-circle of any triangles in DT. The steps of construction Delaunay triangulation are as follows:

  • The first step is to consider some coordinate points or nodes in space.
  • The condition of valid or invalid triangle is tested in every three points which finds some valid triangle to make a triangular element.
  • Finally a triangular mesh model is obtained.

Delaunay Triangulation maximizes the minimum angle of all the angle of triangle and it tends to avoid skinny triangles.

Mesh Delaunay Triangulation method

Mesh Delaunay Triangulation method

 

Advancing Front Method

Another very popular family of triangular and tetrahedral mesh generation algorithms is the advancing front method, or moving front method. The mesh generation process is explained as following steps:

  • A 2D object with a hole is taken.
  • An inner and outer boundary node is inserted. The node spacing is determined by the user.
  • An edge is inserted to connect the nodes.
  • To start the meshing process, an edge AB is selected and a perpendicular is drawn from the midpoint of AB to point C (where C is node spacing determined by the user) in order to make a triangular element.
  • After one element is generated, another edge is selected as AB and a point C is made, but if in case any other node lets point D within the defined radius, then ABC element is cancelled and instead, an element ABD is formed.
  • This process is repeated until mesh is generated.

Mesh Advancing Front method

 

Spatial Decomposition Method

The steps for spatial decomposition method are as follows:

  • Initially a 2D object is taken.
  • The 2D object is divided into minute parts till we get the refined triangular mesh.

Mesh Spatial Decomposition method

 

Sphere Packing Method

The sphere packing method follows the given steps:

  • Before constructing a mesh, the domain is filled with circles.
  • The circles are packed closely together, so that the gaps between them are surrounded by three or four tangent circles.
  • These circles are then used as a framework to construct the mesh, by placing mesh vertices at circle centers, points of tangency, and within each gap while using generated points. Eventually, the triangular mesh is generated.

Mesh Sphere Packing method

Mesh Sphere Packing method

 

 

 

 Source

Singh, Dr. Lokesh, (2015). A Review on Mesh Generation Algorithms. Retrieved from http://www.ijrame.com

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NPD/ID vocabulary

Bill of materials (BOM): A table containing a list of the components and the quantity of each required to produce an assembly.

BriefInstructions and requests provided to design team prior to the commencement of a project. 

Business analysis: The practice of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems.

Commercialization: The process of introducing a new product or production method into the market.

Concept design: An early phase of design process, where the broad outlines of function and form are articulated.

ErgonomicsApplication of principles that consider the effective, safe and comfortable use of design by humans.

Ideation: Idea generation or brainstorming.

Industrial design: The process of designing products used by millions of consumers around the world.

Market research: An organized effort to gather information about target markets or consumers.

New product development (NPD): The complete process which involves transformation of a market opportunity or product idea into a product available for sale.

New Product Introduction (NPI): New product introduction is the complete process of bringing a new product to market.

Patent: An exclusive right granted to an inventor by a sovereign authority, for a specified time period.

Pilot Run: An initial small production run produced as a check, prior to commencing full-scale production. 

Prototyping: An early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or built to act as a commodity to be replicated or learned from.

SketchAn image that is quick to generate and does not contain complete detail.

S.W.O.TAnalysis framework for a company relative to its competitors, market, and industry: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats.

Test marketing: An experiment conducted by companies to check the viability in the target market before full scale manufacture.

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Outsourcing Product Development

Outsourcing development activities has become an essential component of any successful business strategy these days. As the global competitive market is gradually changing, product based companies are going against established norms following the trend of outsourcing activities. This article discusses about the logic behind outsourcing product development, elaborates on its benefits and discusses the other aspects to be considered when outsourcing product development.

What is Outsourced Product Development?

The outsourcing of specific activities or all activities related to the development and maintenance of a product is known as Outsourced Product Development.

Outsourcing enables product companies to get access into an untapped product-building expertise and global talent pools available with service providers. This helps in exchange of technology and varied work-process.

Why Outsource Product Development?

Every decision making panel of an organization stumbles upon a vital question—whether to develop a product in-house or outsource the same to a third-party expertise.

The product development market is becoming more competitive and mature. As the competition intensifies, product companies are under immense pressure to periodically release new versions in the market. Being an intensive activity, product development requires a lot of attention. The top management can’t afford to put all the emphasis on one activity, while overlooking the other phases of product development. It will end up affecting the profitability of the company.

When to outsource product development?

A typical product lifecycle involves the following activities: product development, product reengineering and migration, product maintenance, product implementation, and product testing. A product based company can choose to outsource one or more of these activities or it can outsource the entire string related to a particular product to a service providing firm.

The question, however remains as to when outsource an activity. There are several factors to be taken into account before outsourcing product development. It varies with company to company. Sometimes it is even seasonal and based on current marketing trends. Some factor can be summarised like this:

  1. One needs to understand the purpose of a product before outsourcing and weigh the importance of such product in the market. The biggest thing is, if you have an area of expertise where you really are the best in the world and if it’s the key to your business; that is something that needs to be kept inside. Surely, the success of a product doesn’t depend on R&D alone, as without marketing, sales, distribution, the success won’t move an inch. So the decision making panel need to sort out the area of expertise that the product company lacks.
  1. There are several products which are solely made by the parent company. But they might need enhancements to act as a catalyst to make it more user-friendly or well operable. This happens more often in software industry. You might have a software product of your own, or you might own a mechanical product but you need specific software designed to assist it in its operation. That is when you should consider outsourcing your product development activity. There are various companies out there that might specialise in this area and that might turn out to be your destination.
  1. One of the most, or maybe the most important factor in case of outsourcing product development is— availability of expertise. Sometimes this weighs in far more than other factors. There are some areas which needs specific expertise. Most firms are not entirely self-sufficient hence they have to look out for someone who can get the job done. For example, developing complex CAD roofing software would need people with CAD and mathematical software development expertise. With the advent of new generation automobiles, vehicle manufacturers outsource voice recognition feature to the OPD (Outsourced Product Development) partner who is an expert in such technology.
  1. Generally, some established companies have enough capabilities to run the entire product development lifecycle themselves. However, even these same organizations opt for outsourcing one or two activities to outside vendors. On the contrary, start-ups usually outsource a big chunk of their product development activity. This might be due to inadequate manpower, expertise, capital to afford means and various other reasons.
  1. Pertaining to the last point, besides lack of expertise, inadequate manpower also plays a role in outsourcing of product development. A company would rather outsource PD, to make up for manpower, rather than headhunting themselves. Time consumption, employment policy are few factors responsible for such decisions.
  1. Geography is another point to consider, if there are ongoing discussions about OPD. Last decade has seen big label organizations outsourcing various activities, including R&D, outsourcing their activities to locations like China, India and Eastern Europe. This has a lot to do with the low cost attached to it. Such nations provide manpower and particular expertise in affordable costs, thereby saving the organizations a huge expenditure. The low-cost geography has actually changed the dynamics of product development in such way, that big names have opened up their own R&D centres, sales and distribution office, factories etc in such locations due to lower cost factors.
Benefits of outsourcing product development

OPD has many benefits. A product owner need not worry about the outcome or excess expenditure if the activity is in right hands. Correct and well planned outsourcing saves a product company time, expenditure on systems and manpower, legal hassles. The best part is exchange of domain knowledge between the product company and the OPD, something that ensures better output in the future.

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Path to Product Development

If you are an engineering professional, most likely you are aware of how a physical product comes to life. From the early days of sketching and blueprints, manufacturing of a commodity has come a long way. The modern methodology of creating a product has not only changed drastically, but it has become way more efficient and precise in its approach. Today’s engineer lives and thrives in the world of 3-dimensional models. Whatever masterpiece a designer has in his mind, he has the tools and system to give it life. And it is not just limited to inception of a new idea being turned to a product; it has made the art of reverse engineering being implemented more than ever.

So what are the factors that have revolutionized this craft?

It is the safe to say that with the invention of new tools, techniques and computer, the road to new product development has become more smooth, accurate and flexible. Although a professional can get deep into the subject matter, this article gives a brief overview of the product development from technical perspective.

The footsteps to a new product can be summarized in the following sequence.

 

path to product developmentTo put it in words, here is how the entire sequence goes:

  • Scanning: Whether you have an entirely new idea on your mind, or you want to base your idea on an already existing product; you need a reference. Your reference can be either technical manuals from the manufacturer or the physical product itself. The first step is to scan the product using 3D scanners. 3D scanning technology comes in many shapes and forms. Scanners capture and store the 3D information of the product. The scanned information gets stored in the form of closely spaced data points known as Point Cloud.
  • Point Cloud: A point cloud is a collection of data points defined by a given coordinates system. In a 3D coordinates system, for example, a point cloud may define the shape of some real or created physical system.
  • Mesh: Point clouds are used to create 3D meshes. A mesh is a network that constitutes of cells and points. Mesh generation involves point clouds to be connected to each other by the virtue of vertices, edges and faces that meet at shared edges. There are specific softwares for carrying of meshing function.
  • 3D Model: Once the meshed part is generated, it goes through required software applications to be transferred to Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools to get transformed into a proper 3D CAD model. 3D model is the stage where whole sorts of applications such as sewing, stitching, etc, are implemented to create a prototype.
  • Testing: A prototype goes through numerous tests in this phase, to check for limitations and possible calibrations if necessary. This is done to determine the optimum stage where the prototype can be turned to a product.
  • Product: This is where the entire process comes to an end. Once a prototype is evaluated and finalized, it is sent for production in order to introduce it to the market.

 This introductory part gives you a summary of product development and the related technical terms. In the next chapters, we will dive deep and go through all the mentioned stages, one by one.

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Point Cloud Operations

No output is always perfect no matter how much the technology has evolved. Even though point cloud generation has eased up manufacturing process, it comes with its own anomaly. Generally, a point cloud data is accompanied by Noises and Outliers.

Noises or Noisy data means the data information is contaminated by unwanted information; such unwanted information contributes to the impurity of the data while the underlying information still dominates. A noisy point cloud data can be filtered and the noise can be absolutely discarded to produce a much refined result.

If we carefully examine the image below, it illustrates a point cloud data with noises. The surface area is usually filled with extra features which can be eliminated.

 

Point Cloud Before noise redeuction

 

After carrying out Noise Reduction process, the image below illustrates the outcome, which a lot smoother data without any unwanted elements. There are many algorithms and processes for noise reduction.

 

Point Cloud After noise reduction

 

Outlier, on the contrary, is a type of data which is not totally meaningless, but might turn out to be of interest. Outlier is a data value that differs considerably from the main set of data. It is mostly different from the existing group. Unlike noises, outliers are not removed outright but rather, it is put under analysis sometimes.

The images below clearly portray what outliers are and how the point cloud data looks like once the outliers are removed.

 

Point Cloud With outliers

 

Point Cloud Without outliers

 

Point Cloud Decimation

We have learned how a point cloud data obtained comes with noise and outliers and the methods to reduce them to make the data more executable for meshing. Point cloud data undergoes several operations to treat the anomalies existing within. Two of the commonly used operations are Point Cloud Decimation and Point Cloud Registration.

A point cloud data consists of millions of small points, sometimes even more than what is necessary. Decimation is the process of discarding points from the data to improve performance and reduce usage of disk. Decimate point cloud command reduces the size of point clouds.

The following example shows how a point cloud underwent decimation to reduce the excess points.

Point Cloud Before decimation

 

Point Cloud After decimation

 

Point Cloud Registration

Scanning a commodity is not a one step process. A lot of time, scanning needs to be done separately from different angles to get views. Each of the acquired data view is called a dataset. Every dataset obtained from different views needs to be aligned together into a single point cloud data model, so that subsequent processing steps can be applied. The process of aligning various 3D point cloud data views into a complete point cloud model is known as registration. The purpose is to find the relative positions and orientations of the separately acquired views, such that the intersecting regions between them overlap perfectly.

Take a look at the example given below. The car door data sets have been merged to get a complete model.

 

Point Cloud before registration

 

Point Cloud After registration

 

 

 

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The New Product Development Process

You might be a seasoned design professional thinking “What do my bosses sit around and do all day while I do the real design work".

This section outlines and explores the various early stages of the industrial design process that a product goes through. It does serve as a reasonable account of the overall and general product design process.

  • Ideating or initial ideas

Before any design work can begin on a product, there must first be a definition of what the product or product line might be. The idea’s genesis can be many factors such as:

Consumer demand – Reviews & feedbacks from the customers or even their ideas can help companies generate new product ideas.

Internal sources – Companies provide incentives and perks to employees who come up with new product ideas

Market research – Companies constantly review the changing needs, requirements and trends of the market by conducting plethora of market research analysis.

Competition – Competitors SWOT analysis helps companies to generate ideas.

  • Idea screening

An idea can be excellent, good, moderate or very bad. Once a suitable product opportunity has been identified, a specification document or design brief is created to define the product. It is usually created by the higher management of a company who’ll have access to information, such as budgeting and buyer/seller feedback. This step involves filtering out the good and feasible ideas which maintains the technical integrity while staying within realistic cost expectations.

Features such as a mechanical specification or a reference to an existing invention the product might be based upon, are outlined. Expectations, uses, and underlying intelligence associated to the product are included as well. Electronics, including sounds, lights, sensors, and any other specific inputs, such as colors and new materials may also be mentioned. Finally, a few reference sketches or photo images can be added to convey a possible direction.

  • Concept design & development

All ideas that pass through the screening stage are turned into concepts for testing purpose. A concept is a detailed strategy or blueprint version of the idea. In most companies, designers work up a design brief or product specification that guides their designs. It’s the designer’s role to make these ideas a reality. A professional designer has the ability to provide a large variety of designs in a quick and efficient manner. Many people can draw one or two ideas, but when asked to elaborate they often fall short. What separates the true design professional is depth and breadth of their presented ideas and vision in a clear and concise manner. Concept design generally means the use of hand-drawn or digital sketches to convey what’s in a designer’s mind onto paper or a screen.

  • Business analysis

A detailed business analysis is required to determine the feasibility of the product. This stage determines whether the product is commercially profitable or not, whether it will have a regular or seasonal demand and the possibilities of it being in the market for the long run.

  • Modeling

With the help of 3D modeling software (CAD – Computer Aided Design), the ideas/concept is rendered a shape, thereby creating a 3D model. The technical and engineering team has the biggest workload during this phase. These 3D models will often show up problematic areas where the theoretical stresses and strains on the product to be developed will be exposed. If any problem persists, it is a best phase of product development to handle the design errors and come up with modifications to address the same.

  • Prototyping & pilot runs (preliminary design stage)

In this stage, prototypes are built and tested after several iterations and pilot run of the manufacturing process is conducted. This stage involves creating rapid prototypes for a concept that has been deemed to have business relevance and value. Prototype means a ‘quick and dirty’ model rather than a refined one that will be tested and marketed later on. Adjustments are carried out as required before finalizing the design.

  • Test marketing

Apart from continuously testing the product for performance, market testing is also carried out to check the acceptability of the product in the defined market and customer group. It is usually performed by introducing the new product on a very small scale, to check if there are any shortcomings. This helps to know in advance, whether customer will accept and buy this product on launching in the market. Test marketing is a powerful tool indeed.

  • New product launch

This is the final stage in which the product is introduced to the target market. Production starts at a relatively low level of volume as the company develops confidence in its abilities to execute production consistently and marketing abilities to sell the product. Product manufacturing expenses depend on the density of the product, if there are numerous parts, material selection etc. The organization must equip its sales and customer service entities to address and handle queries. Product advertisements, website pages, press releases, and e-mail communications are kept on standby on the launching day.

Product development is an ever evolving fluid process and cannot be summed up in a few steps. The entire procedure sees insertion of additional stages or even eviction of a crucial part, depending on the nature of the project. Each group of professionals, whether designers, engineers or marketing, sales; has their role to play in this methodology. It is the company’s responsibility to continuously monitor the performance of the new product.

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Value Engineering

During the lifecycle of a particular product, companies tend to review the existing design to look out for ways to reduce production cost. Even when coming up with a new product, so many manufacturers go for analyzing the same during its design phase so that it requires an optimum level of cost to produce. This is where Value Engineering comes in.

Value engineering is an organized method to improve the “value” of a product or service in the lowest of cost.

VE is a systematic approach aimed at obtaining the necessary functions in a product, process, or system at the minimum overall cost, thereby maintaining the quality, reliability, performance, and safety. It provides the substitution of materials and methods with less expensive alternatives, without jeopardizing the functionality. It is emphasized totally on the functions of various components and materials, rather than their physical characteristics. Value engineering is also called value analysis.

It was Lawrence Miles who came up with the concept of finding substitute materials for parts unavailable.  It was found that substitutions not only reduced cost but aided in a better-finished product. It was this new technique that evolved into value engineering today.

The value in VE means two components:

  • Function: The measure of performance abilities
  • Cost: The resources needed to achieve the function

The function of a product is the specific task it was designed to perform, and the cost refers to the cost of the item during its life cycle. The ratio of function to cost denotes that the value of a product can be increased by either improving its function or decreasing its cost. In value engineering, the cost related to production, design, maintenance, and replacement are included in the analysis.

If we take an example of a new tech product which is being designed and is slated to have a life cycle of only two years; the product will be designed with the least expensive materials and resources that will live up to the end of the product’s lifecycle, saving the manufacturer and the end-user money. This is how product value is improved by reducing costs. It is evident that with the increase in function value and decrease in price, the overall product value increases. 

Stages of Value Engineering

There are three main stages to value engineering, which are:

  • Planning: Gathering product information, and understanding its primary goals, identifying the functionality of the product.
  • Design: Designing alternative ways to incorporate in the product which enhances the value rather than affecting its function and quality
  • Methodology: Reduce the action list as much as possible. Developing alternatives to feasible plans. Allocation of costs.
Benefits of Value Engineering

Value engineering helps an organization in numerous ways:

  • Lowering O&M costs
  • Improving quality management
  • Improving resource efficiency
  • Simplifying procedures
  • Minimizing paperwork
  • Reducing staff costs
  • Increasing procedural efficiency
  • Optimizing construction expenditures
  • Developing value attitudes in staff
  • Competing more successfully in the marketplace 

Value engineering concepts apply to business as well as technical situations and consequently lead management to informed, result-oriented decisions. Value engineering has to be treated as a future investment for gaining technology leadership in the industry.

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