Posted by Prahlad Parmar on September 15th, 2014
Companies that value innovation and consistently work towards product design & development for achieving higher performance, smaller footprint and sustainability are likely to be rewarded by better customer engagement, better sales and hence better profit margins. However, product development process involves great amount risks – both technical and commercial.
Research suggests that the rate of failure in a product development process is high; it also finds that only 60% of new product design & development projects are successful, while 46% of the resources engaged in a product development and commercialization process are spent on products that fail to yield the desired monetary returns.
Now why this failure rate? This is because often companies take up product design concepts and start development work without prior groundwork i.e. understand the market and understand your customer.
The perfect mix for a mechanical product design that is both technically and commercially viable can be achieved via the following ingredients:
Customer Perception: The primary factor, which defines the success of your product, is customer perception. The superiority of your product in the eyes of the customer can be built by ensuring a high performance to cost ratio.
Market Knowledge: Understanding your market and the market segment is of utmost importance. This includes preliminary market assessment, scope of market penetration, competitor analysis etc.
Clear Product Definition: The reason behind unreasonable delays and product failures is the failure to ‘define’ a new product before the process of development begins. This process includes clear concept definition and representation, product positioning, and a thorough understanding of the features, attributes and other requirements for the design.
Risk Assessment: Sources of risks, that can be market-based, technological, manufacturing and design based should be accessed and addressed. Companies should build risk assessment into their business and feasibility studies, and address the potential risks with respect to the market and firms capabilities.
Availability of Resources: If a mechanical design firm takes up product design and development project, it is essential to have the required resources in terms of finances, materials, management and technical skills.
Use of Simulation: Companies that do not stick to the old ways, those which break the mold of conventional and adopt what is new – emerge as winners. Simulation and Computational analysis is the new mantra for mechanical engineers. Simulation technology is widely used across the industry during the development of a new product.
The reason for such wide acceptance is that, it allows engineers to visualize how their products perform, in a better manner. It allows them to experiment more thereby innovate in true sense and hence maintain high quality product design standards. Physical testing has its own limitations; these can be overcome by using several computational methods like FEA and CFD.
Using simulation technology a product design can be put through real world conditions and challenges even before the first prototype if prepared. Using simulations, defects can be easily detected and hence flawless products can be achieved. Additionally, the cost of repeated prototyping is saved. While the design phase might seem to become lengthy, effective simulation and design analysis, shortens the validation phase, and hence the over overall design cycle also shortens.
Top Management Support: From the product design, concept to the development, analysis, validation and launch of a product the support, trust, commitment, coordination and control of the top level management is crucial. Key members in an organization have a critical role to play in ensuring and implementing innovation in a product development.
About Author: Prahlad Parmar is an Engineering Specialist working at Mechanical 3D Modelling for the past 4 years. He caters critical engineering challenges with ease and performs exhaustive procedures to develop robust, well-engineered and high performance designs. He can always be found in the lab discussing, brainstorming and tweaking designs.