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Product Design. Introduction. Why do the car manufacturers, clothes companies and even dog food producers always come up with “new” products? I suspect it is a way to differentiate their product from that of others and thus they can generate some special buckaroos!

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Why do the car manufacturers, clothes companies and even dog food producers always come up with “new” products? I suspect it is a way to differentiate their product from that of others and thus they can generate some special buckaroos!

This presents some challenges for operations because it has to be nimble enough to handle the changes. The author suggests that market pull, technology push and an interfunctional view are ways of handling new product introduction.

The market pull method indicates the firm will produce what the market wants and the firm will just have to adjust operations to meet the market.


The technology push view goes with the idea that the firm uses its available resources to make products and then pushes them on the market.

While the market pull and technology push views may be easier to implement, and even be successful in some instances, the interfunctional view really is a combination of these other two views. Many facilities cost in the millions and even billions so firms want to use them with minimal transformation, but products have to be in line with consumer tastes.

New product development
New Product Development

As firms develop new products they typically follow a process that roughly follows the following phases:

1) Concept development,

2) Product design, and

3) Pilot production and testing.

Concept development is a form of brainstorming about how to fill a market need and how the company can best meet that need.

Engineering is a big part of product design. You may want to “google” the term if you are not familiar. Models, both real and virtual, are made to see how the product might end up. Process design (how the new product will be made) is likely to be happening during this time as well.

New product development1
New Product Development

Pilot Production and Testing will include producing prototypes before mass production occurs. Plus consumer groups may be assembled to use the product and see if the product is meeting the need as desired.

(Some of you mentioned in your lemonade stand that you would test the product!)

Cross functional product design
Cross-Functional Product Design

The author of the text points out that there can be misalignment in new product development. An example of this would be that engineering has developed a product type, but the operations department (the one that will actually mass produce the item) is not equipped to properly handle the production.

To overcome problems such as the one described, cross-functional design teams may be formed. This essentially ensures better communication between the various functions of an organization.

A sequential process or a concurrent process may be developed as a way to get the different functions more in line with each other.

Quality function deployment qfd
Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

QFD is a tool for bringing together customer attributes and engineering characteristics in the new product development process.

Customer attributes are market researched and represent what consumers want in the product.

Engineering characteristics are the design features built into the product.

Figures 3.4, 3.5 and 3.6 each represents a “house of quality.” These are essentially spreadsheets that bring together customer attributes and engineering characteristics.

House of quality
House of Quality

In QFD the customer attributes are rated for relative importance. This is done in conjunction with the market research. Each attribute is given a percentage of importance and all the percentages add to 100. This represents the chimney of the house.

Inside the house of quality marks are made to show how a customer attribute is related to an engineering characteristic. Some relationships are positive and some negative. A negative means that for the attribute the engineering characteristic detracts from the attribute.

A roof on the house shows how the various engineering characteristics are related. This helps in seeing trade-offs in how the design may impact the attributes.

More house of quality
More House of Quality

In the family room in the back of the house there is listed a comparison of customer perceptions of our attributes compared to competitors.

In the basement you see the engineering characteristics given a target value for the company and you see values assigned for competitors.

The house of quality is a tool that can increase cross-functional communication. Marketing and operations, for example, can use this tool together with an understanding of each others tasks and capabilities.

Design for manufacturing dfm
Design for Manufacturing (DFM)

Recall that while we want to make stuff consumers want we also want to make sure we have the ability to manufacture the product. DFM is concerned with

1) Simplification of products, and

2) Manufacture of multiple products using common parts, processes and modules.

Let’s turn to value analysis for simplification of products.

Value analysis
Value Analysis

Products have “usefulness” in the eye of the consumer. Plus products cost something to be made. Value analysis is about comparing the two.

Value here will be defined as usefulness divided by cost, or usefulness/cost.

Let’s use the example in the book about tin cans. Say a company makes a product that comes in the can. The objective of the consumer is to get to the contents of the can. A basic function would be opening the can. How should the can be opened?

Value analysis1
Value Analysis

Secondary functions really are various ways of performing the basic function. One way to open a can is with a can opener. Another way is with a pull tab.

Let’s say the pull tab costs more than just having a plan lid. But maybe consumers see an increase in usefulness as well. As long as the usefulness goes up more than the costs of the pull tab, you would expect to see the pull tab cans be made (seems like eco 203 here, doesn’t it?).

Modular design
Modular Design

Modular design is a way in DFM to achieve multiple products using common parts and processes.

Automobile manufacture is an example here. Many varieties can be made from a few basic chassis designs. Plus when you add in feature like color, hub cap design, etc… you can have a great deal of variety.

Recall from statistics that if you have a multistep process with k1 possibilities on the first step, k2 possibilities on the second step all the way through kn possibilities on the nth step, then there are k1 times k2 times all the way through kn possible outcomes.

Modular design1
Modular design

Say a company makes beds. Say there are 4 bed sizes, 3 spring arrangements, 3 mattress padding thicknesses, and 8 mattress pad colors yields

4(3)(3)(8) = 288 different beds that can be made.


The point of the chapter is to get you to see the way new-product design impacts and is impacted by operations.

Part of what is going on here is that in our dynamic economy consumers have money to spend and desires to be met. To capture some of this firms have to be improving products and bringing out new things. This means operations has pressure to perform with what they have in terms of productive capabilities. Modifications can be made, but are costly and so should have a payoff.