Friday, May 21, 2010

The Basics of Product Design

A designer must develop a product that by definition has the capabilities to meet some need that is not fully defined

Seven basic actions of Problem Solving:

1. Establish the need or realize that there is a problem to be solved
2. Plan how to solve it
3. Understand the problem by developing requirements and uncovering existing solutions for similar problems
4. General alternative solutions
5. Evaluate the alternatives by comparing them to the design requirements and to each other
6. Decide on acceptable solutions
7. Communicate the results

Planning occurs mainly at the beginning of a project.  Plans are always updated because understanding is improved as the process progresses.  These are called design iterations.

There are 2 well known methods of design, the over-the-wall design method, and concurrent engineering.
With the over-the-wall method, more often than not the customer is not content with the product that comes out of production.  Because, like the children's game 'telephone', there is much important information that gets lost in translation along the way.

The more effective method of design is concurrent engineering.  In concurrent engineering the primary focus is on the integration of teams of people, design tools and techniques, and information about the product and the process used to develop and manufacture it.

Ten features of concurrent engineering:
  • Focus on the entire product life
  • Use and support of design teams
  • Realization that the procceses are as imporant as the product
  • Attention to planning for information centered tasks
  • Careful product requirements development
  • Encouragement of multiple concept gerneration and evaluation
  • Awareness of the decision-making process
  • Attention to designing in quality during every phase of the design process
  • Concurrent development of product and manufacturing process
  • Emphasis on communication of the right information to the right people at the right time

The success of the design process can be measured in the cost of the design effort, the cost of the final product, the quality of the final product, and the time needed to develop the product.  In addition, how well the product is received by the end user is a true measure of a successful design process.

The above is just a glimpse at some of the basics of product design.  Much of the information above can be found in the book The Mechanical Design Process (Mcgraw-Hill Series in Mechanical Engineering). This is the book that was used in my sophomore design class and is used throughout industry.

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