Product development begins with identification of a consumer need or
desire & a way to satisfy it with goods or service.
The two primary forces, socioeconomic & technological changes are
the causes. Once an idea has been formulated, product development
progresses through the following stages.
Identification & evaluation of the market.
Market surveys, focus groups, & interviews are used at this stage,
not only to determine the existence of market but also to develop
preliminary about which features of the product are most
attractive to likely customers & what price structure would be most
Development of a detailed product design & prototyping.
The desired functional features of the product must be specified
clearly. Based on the desired features, preliminary production
specifications & process designs can be developed: that is a plan
should be developed of how to make the product so as to have the
desired functions. At this stage, the active involvement of a person
knowledgeable about operations becomes important.
The detailed design phase is iterative; the initial product design is
evaluated with respect to various criteria, such as achievement of
functional customer requirements & product specifications, expected
quality & reliability of the product, producibility & the cost of
the product, & the impact on production of the company’s other
products. After this review, the product design & the planned
production process are always modified. Prototyping is a method
selected at this stage. A prototype is a physical mockup or computer
simulation of the product. By using prototypes, personnel from
marketing, operations, & design can speak the same language &
evaluate the product before large scale production begins. In
addition, customers can play with the prototype or react to a
demonstration of the product & provide useful
At this stage, preliminary development of production documents that
specify the components needed to produce the product, the sequencing
of production tasks, & drawing of the product & its major components
guides the design process.
Ramp-Up of Production
Based on the working design the product can be produced in small
quantities. Additional design changes may occur either to improve the
quality of the product or to reduce the cost of production, or to
test the market.
Product Modification & redesign
Product & process design is an ongoing activity. Feed back from
customers, changes in technology, competing products are motivation
for changes in product’s design. In addition, experience with
producing the product, especially at higher volumes, should lead to
changes in design that lower the cost of production & improve the
The product design Process
Product designers work on the design with a focus on the product’s
characteristics from functional, aesthetic, & marketing view point,
with a little concern for how much it would cost to make the product
or even whether it could be made. This over-the-wall design process
results in the production department sending back the design to the
designers for changes either because they could not make the product
or make it well or because the cost was prohibitive. The product
designers often resisted these changes, & because they occurred after
the fact, the changes that were made were often compensations for the
fundamental flaws in the design rather than corrections of the
underlying problems. The consequences of this process were slow
product development & introduction, high cost, & poor quality.
To have reduced production costs, decreased product development
time, & improved product quality it is imperative to have these four
elements incorporated in the process.
A philosophy of designing for production.
Concurrent design of the product & the production process.
Use of multidisciplinary teams.
Collaboration with suppliers & customers.
Designing for production is a philosophy by which the designer
thinks about how the product will be made as the product is being
designed so that potential production problems caused by the design
can be resolved early in the design process. The basic presumption of
this philosophy is that the ultimate cost & quality of the product &
the time to bring the product is designed with respect to its
producibility. Studies have shown that 70-95% of the final product
cost & much of its quality are determined by its design1.An important
aspect of designing for production is to simplify the design &
standardize the parts & processes used.
Concurrent Design & Engineering (CE) is a method to design & test
the production process while the product is being designed to ensure
that product design is compatible with & promotes efficient, high
quality production. Evaluation of how well the design characteristics
fit the company’s proposed & existing production equipment, methods,
capabilities, & product mix.
Theoretically design for production can be performed by
individual designers, this concept & CE imply that operations
personnel should be involved in the product design at an early stage.
Operations personnel can determine how the product will fit within
existing processes, how easily it can be assembled, & whether design
changes will reduce production costs.
The use of multi disciplinary product design teams where
customers & the suppliers are included benefit the company. For a
product to be successful it must satisfy the needs of customers, not
just those of its designers. In addition to the cost benefits,
supplier-customer cooperation can improve the quality of the product.
Basic Principles of Designing Products for Production
Attention to production, Concurrent Design & engineering (CE), &
team design are the key in obtaining compatibility between the
product & production process. Those involved in product design need
design principles & tools to guide their thinking & to help them
evaluate alternative product designs. Academically trained product
designers learn these principles in design school. There are many
personnel who have no formal training. The important design
principles that have emerged from studying successful products &
companies are briefly described below.
The overriding principle of product design is “Make it simple!”
Simplicity of design facilitates both production & consumption. Good
design does not necessarily mean using the newest or most technology;
rather, it utilizes the most appropriate technology to accomplish the
purpose of the product as easily, cheaply, & reliably as possible.
This idea underlies the canon slogan, “It’s so advanced, its simple”.
The product complexity is actually a sign of technological
Minimize the number of parts.
Use common components & tools.
Simplify assembly: easy- to- use safety catches, Attention to
orientation & accessibility during assembly, Attention to testing,
Foolproof operations & assembly.
Use modularity to obtain variety.
Make product specifications & tolerances reasonable.
Design products to robust.
Glossary: Iterative means involving repetition ; relating to or being
iteration of all operation or procedure.
References. Production & Operations Management An Applied approach
Richard Walleigh. “Product Design for Low cost Manufacturing”.
The Journal of Business strategy July-August 1989, pp37-41.
Design principles “Manufacturing by design” by Walleigh, op.cit,
& Daniel.E.Whitney Harvard business review, July-August 1988 pp
Bruce Nussbaum & Robert Neff “I can’t work this thing” Business
Week, Apr.29 1991 pp58-66