Read this article to learn about the six steps involved in the process of new product design.
1. Idea Generation:
The design process begins with understanding the customers and their needs. Ideas for new products can come from a variety of sources both within and outside the firm. Internal sources include employees, research and development, market research sales force and reverse engineering.
The external sources include customers, legislation, environment, technology and strategic position of the organisation. Competitors are also the source of ideas for new products or services. Perceptual maps, bench marking and reverse engineering can help companies learn from their competitors.
Perceptual maps helps to compare customer perceptions of a company’s products with competitor’s products. It is a visual method of comparing customer perceptions of different product or services:
1. Bench marking refers to finding the best in class product or process, measuring the performance of your product or process against it and making recommendations for improvement based on the results.
2. Reverse engineering refers to carefully dismantling and inspecting competitors products to look for design features that can be incorporated to improve one’s own products.
Each of these sources gives a different emphasis on the requirements and importance of idea generation.
2. Screening Ideas:
The purpose of screening ideas is to eliminate those ideas that do not appear to have high potential and so avoid the costs incurred at subsequent stages. Using group of people, proposals would be supported by graphics, models and an outline specification and judged against a set of criteria such as necessity to the firms survival, role in filling out an existing product/service, degree of overlap with existing products and services, utilizing existing processes and capabilities, impact on overall sales and profits of the company.
To have a better evaluation of ideas, each of the dimensions of the ideas is scored on a 0-10 scale and each dimension is attached weights as per these dimensions. The resulting aggregate score helps in deciding which idea to progress and which idea should be dropped.
3. Feasibility Study:
Initial screening of the ideas is designed to stop the ideas, which are unsuitable for further considerations. Feasibility study consists of a market analysis, an economic analysis, and technical and strategic analysis.
Marketing takes the ideas that are generated and the customer needs that are identified from the first stage of the design process and develops alternative product concepts. The market analysis through customer analysis and market survey assesses whether there is an enough demand for the proposed product to invest in developing further.
If the sufficient demand exists, then there is an economic analysis that aims at establishing the production and development costs and compares them with estimated sales volume. The profit potential of the product can be studied using quantitative techniques such as cost benefit analysis, decision theory, net present value (NPV) or internal rate of return (IRR).
The risk analysis is also carried out. Finally, technical and strategic analysis is concerned with technical viability of the product with respect to technology, process of manufacture, availability of materials etc. Performance specifications are written for product concepts that pass the feasibility study and are approved for development. The details of feasibility are given in fig. 2.6.
4. Preliminary Design:
Design engineers take general performance specifications and translate them in to technical specifications. The process of preliminary design involves building a prototype, testing the prototype, revising the design, retesting and so on until a viable design is determined. Design incorporates both form and function.
Form design refers to the physical appearance of a product, its shape, size, color, styling etc. Aesthetics aspects such as image, market appeal, special identification, finish etc. will also form a part of the form design.
Production design is concerned with how the product will be made. Design, which are difficult to make result in poor quality products. During the design stage itself the manufacturing aspects should be considered. The production design or design for production include simplification, standardization and modularity.
Design simplification attempts to reduce the number of parts, subassemblies and options into a product. Standardization refers to use of commonly available and interchangeable parts and subassemblies. Modular design consist of combining standardized building blocks or modules in a variety of ways to create a unique finished product. Modular design is common in electronics and automobile industry.
5. Pilot Runs and Testing:
In the preliminary design stage, prototypes are built and tested after several iterations, pilot run of the manufacturing process is conducted. Adjustments are made as needed before finalizing the design. 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. This helps to know in advance, whether customer will accept and buy this product on launching in the market. Thus, test marketing is a powerful tool.
Final Design and Process Plans:
The final design consists of detailed drawings and specifications for the new product. The accompanying process plans are workable instructions for manufacture including necessary equipment’s and tooling, component sources job descriptions, work instructions and Programmes for computer-assisted machines.
6. New Product Launch:
Launching a new product or service involves ramp up production. The process has been refined and debugged, but it has yet to operate at a sustained level of production. In ramp up, production starts at a relatively low level of volume as the organization develops confidence in its abilities to execute production consistently and marketing’s abilities to sell the product, the volume increases. Launching the new product or service involves co-coordinating the supply chain and rolling out marketing plans. Marketing and production will work in a co-coordinated way during this phase.