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Home - Product Design: Methodology

PRODUCT DESIGN

Methodology

Developing a new product requires a series of discreet product development phases. Advent Design has developed a Product Development Methodology that has proven to be highly effective in bringing quality products to market in a timely manner.

The Product Development Methodology employed by Advent Design defines the entire life-cycle of a product as the product moves from Proof of Concept all the way to first run production and beyond. While Advent Design is not always involved in all phases of the process, using a structured approach improves the probability that the product will be successful.

Following is a summary of Advent Design’s Product Development Methodology, which has been incorporated into and certified under Advent Design’s ISO 9001 program. The first three phases are fairly traditional and generally accepted in the development of a new product. The last three phases involve maximizing the company’s return after the product enters the marketplace.

I. Phase One - Conceptual Design
A. Product Specifications

The first step in the development process is setting up the project team and creating a specification document detailing all of the features and performance specifications of the design, the target market, and the cost and pricing parameters. This information serves to set the course for subsequent design phases and is reviewed by engineering, management, marketing, production, and anyone else in the company affected by the new product. The information is beneficial in keeping the product development effort on track and moving toward the desired release date. Without this information the development group would be sidetracked (or even moved backwards) as product features are re-examined and old options reconsidered.

B. Design Concept

In addition to creating a product specification document the first phase requires that a design concept be presented for approval. The design concept generally includes product sketches and possibly a mock-up of the product to ensure that the look and feel of the product meets the expectations of the project team.
The first phase is complete once the Concept Approval Meeting (CAM) has been held and the specification document and design concept approved by the entire project team and other interested parties.

II. Phase Two - Feasibility
A. Proof-of-Concept Prototype

The second phase addresses the technical risks associated with the product’s development and how these risks are being, or have been overcome. It may be necessary to quickly test the viability of a design concept before further consideration is given to it. In this instance, a Proof-of-Concept prototype is constructed and a Prototype Approval Meeting (PAM) scheduled. Proof-of-Concept prototypes are typically crudely constructed models that exhibit only the features that are in question in order to prove out their viability.

B. Alpha Prototype

Following approval of the Proof-of-Concept prototype the Alpha test plan is written. The test plan is written prior to the design of the Alpha prototype so that all of the test requirements that the Alpha prototype must meet are known up-front, ensuring that the required performance of the unit is "designed in". After approval of the test plan, the Alpha prototype is designed and detailed. The goal of the Alpha prototype design is to create a working prototype that meets all of the design specifications. Because final production tooling is not generally available at this stage, rapid prototyping methods are typically employed. Advent Design uses many different prototyping methods to quickly produce plastic parts and cast parts without the need for expensive tooling. Upon successful Alpha testing, a review meeting is held to evaluate the results of the testing and to determine where refinements are necessary that will be incorporated in the Beta prototype.

III. Phase Three - Development and Design
A. Beta Prototype

The Development and Design phase calls for the fabrication of a series of Beta units to be designed, documented, and built. Much like the Alpha prototype, the Beta prototype begins with a Beta test plan. These test plans differ from the Alpha test plan in that Beta testing is performed with or by end users in order to get a feel for what real-world problems may be encountered in the field. Once the test plan is in order, design of the Beta prototype ensues. Upon approval of the Beta design, construction and Beta testing follow. These units are field-tested, modifications made as required, and a final approval meeting held. Once approved, the product is ready for market introduction.

B. Pre-Production

Following completion of Beta testing the project moves into Pre-Production. The objective of Pre-Production is to transition the prototyping efforts to production. All prototyping documentation is converted to production-level standards. Tooling and manufacturing methods are examined. Ultimately, a "mini production run" of the product is done to test the manufacturing process.
The units produced during the Pre-Production run may be released to the general market as sales samples. Following a successful Pre-Production run, full production of the product can begin.

IV. Phase Four - Introduction
The objective of the Introduction Phase is to ensure that the product has reached the anticipated markets, that the market has embraced the product as anticipated, and that the product has been successfully integrated into the manufacturing process.

V. Phase Five - Standardization
The objective of the Standardization Phase is to reduce manufacturing costs and identify new products that may either augment or "piggy-back" on the sales of the product.

VI. Phase Six – Succession Planning
The objective of the final phase is to plan for and withdraw a product from the marketplace and complete the life cycle for the product. This step should coincide with the release of a new replacement product.

 

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