WHAT WE DO.
Product Dev Limited provides Industrial and Mechanical Product Design and Development consultancy services. We have extensive industry experience and smarts in the electrical and electronics industry.
If you are looking at outsourcing your design project or need help with a design you’re stuck on or development overload we can provide you with a flexible, friendly, cost effective solution. You will benefit from our extensive network of industry expertise, wealth of product design experience and our creative approach.
Our goal is to exceed customers’ expectations by meeting product specification, budget and time constraints.
We enjoy helping our customers create products that they can be proud of, and are a joy to use.
In principal our design process is DEFINE, DEVELOP, DETAIL and DELIVER.
Any job large or small we apply this process. The degree that we dive into detail will depend on the size and complexity of the project.
The process outlined below relates to a more detailed project. However, this gives you a good idea of how we work and the processes we will apply.
We start by building a custom plan for each project we work on to ensure the needed outputs are produced on time and in a professional manner. It is important that we build an understanding of the critical cross functional interactions that lie in the project so we can plan to deliver on time and set realistic expectations. If you have a way you like to work (internal processes) we can work closely with your organization to accommodate this in the scope of work.
DEFINE THE GOAL
Product research >> Product management >> Product specification development
Research that yields information about desired characteristics of the product. This is the key to a new product development and is where we can add value to the end user.
We test this through these methods:
- Field observation work studies – Understanding what people do with the product at a hands on level.
- Customer focus groups – Understanding what you are doing well and where you can improve.
- Customer surveys – Build understanding of where we can add value with targeted questions.
- Technology blocks – Is there a technology that has not been applied to your market or product line that could give you a disruptive innovation? Or is there a manufacturing process that would improve your products reliability and profit margin and allow you to upscale your production?
- Product benchmarking – This can be one of the best ways of discovering design opportunities and holes in the market with the power of hindsight and learning from your competitor’s mistakes. We don’t like to use this too early in the product research phase as it can cloud original idea generation.
- Regulation requirements – We have a good understanding of the basic product requirements and testing methodologies and have good working relationships with specialists in this area.
- We can work with your product management team to help define the key features and functions of a product. We need to understand the volumes and product target costs early to determine if there is a suitable method forward.
- We have significant experience working in cross functional product development teams and know the importance of defining and delivering on time. We like to provide you with a statement of work for stages of the project so you don’t get any nasty surprises and can budget for the expense.
PRODUCT SPECIFICATION DEVELOPMENT
- This is where we start writing the recipe for the product and set goals for the product output. There are a lot of considerations that need to be recorded; styling, ergonomics, environmental, performance, function, materials, life cycle aspects, cost targets, industry standards, regulatory and in-house requirements to name a few. By recording this information in a product specification it gives us a yard stick to design the product to. We can guide you through the process if you don’t have your own internal document for this. It is important to not over specify the product as you can increase the product’s cost and reduce your profit margin if you do. i.e if your target market wants a product that is water resistant don’t build in extra cost into the product by requiring it to be water proof.
DEVELOP AND DETERMINE THE OPTIMUM CONCEPT FOR THE DEFINED PRODUCT
Concept development >> Functional development >> Prototype >>Development testing
- Ok, lets get crazy and get the team together and sketch and brainstorm ideas and be positive (negative naysayers not welcome). It is important at this stage to generate ideas for the product that solve the big picture, not dive into detail.
- We vet these ideas and develop a number of concepts which have good potential and work out the functional and form features. If the product is a customer orientated product we may work up hand/CAD renderings or provide basic space models to determine usability and form of the product.
- Concept review – Now we get to rate the concepts and apply data to our decision making process. A good technique for doing this is a quantitative decision matrix (Pugh method) with weighting applied to more important features of the product.
- We may have 1 standout or a number of viable options at this stage which we progress forward.
This is one of the best phases of projects where we see the product coming to life. We put more detailed work into the selected concept or concepts. The project gets a reality check as we design a working prototype.
- Rough functional 3D CAD models and drawings are created with basic functional detail.
- Basic DFM (Design For Manufacture) and PFMEA (Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis ) ideas are developed for effective production solutions.
- Preliminary discussions with suppliers and supplier vetting.
- Review and elect a functional design to progress with into the detailed design phase.
- Risk areas of design are determined and highlighted.
Q: If a picture tells you a hundred words a prototype is worth? A: Well they are invaluable.
They can happen at a number of times in a project or may not happen at all if there is a very simple change from an existing product offering. In our opinion there is always value in prototyping whether it is checking a concept/functional design or a final check before releasing a part for production tooling. You can discover things that you may have otherwise missed with a 3D CAD model and there is nothing like having it in your hands. It is good if we can determine early in the project what the prototype numbers are going to be at different phases of the development. This allows us to plan for the most cost effective prototype methodologies to fit in with other functional design groups.
There are many ways to make prototypes and the methods we use will be determined by:
- Cost and value added to project.
- Functional feature testing.
- Quantity required.
- Material properties.
- Quality – What is the prototype going to be used for (e.g. tradeshow, presentation, development testing and assembly methodology)?
Most problems can be determined by early prototyping using standard 3D printing or similar prototyping methodologies. However, in some cases prototype tooling (soft tooling) in the production materials may be required for moldings or castings. There are some real advantages to prototype tooling.
- Extra parts available for development testing and learning before committing to final design.
- Minor design changes can be more easily made to soft tooling.
- Final production tooling lead time can be reduced as supplier understands quality expectations.
- Finer detail can be created.
It is better to fail early on in a project with a concept than go straight into detailed design or production with a troublesome concept. We have a lot of experience in testing product and find this hands-on-approach a fantastic and fast way of making data driven decisions and discoveries. Anything we theorise we test. The data doesn’t lie.
“Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.”
We can work with you to develop test plans or arrange for testing to be carried out for you. We have locally based certified testing partners which we work with closely and they specialize in product certification testing. A key to development testing is to ensure we remove the risks or unknowns from the project early. This may involve testing technologies or materials that are intended to be used in the product. A lot of the time testing design will progress across into the detailed design phase as we start to solve the hard problems.
READY THE FINE TOOTHED COMB…
This is where we get into the detail and dot the i’s and cross the t’s…..
Ready the fine toothed comb, this is where we get into the detail and dot the i’s and cross the t’s. We get the roughed out functional design to the point of being a highly polished design which is manufacturable and meets your product specification. The focus is on generating a documentation package (drawings, specifications, reports) for the product to allow it to be costed, made, checked/measured, tested and of course approved by you for a preliminary production build.
How do we do this?
We use 3D CAD(Computer Aided Design) tools to model and generate detailed information on the components and assemblies to be made.
We apply our detailed design skill and use CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) analysis tools(CFD, FEA, moldflow) to analyse and build a good understanding of the product before components and assemblies are manufactured. We work with suppliers and manufactures to develop an understanding of the material and manufacturing process limitations and document these. We work closely with tool designers and review tooling drawings. We give consideration to possible future changes and tooling maintenance so that allowance is given in the tooling for them. This allows us to design components and assemblies that are reliable and repeatable. We lock down the design with our cross functional design partners (i.e. Software and Hardware).
THE TOOLS ARE FINISHED AND THE PARTS ARE COMING….
So clear your desk and make room for the boxes….
The tools are finished and the parts are coming so clear your desk and make room for the boxes.
Each time you build a new product you learn new things about how the product goes together. Our experienced design engineers will normally start building one product or a group of products up for testing and quickly build an understanding of issues that may need minor tweaking before it gets to the production line. Where possible we also try to put reliance on the supplier to provide full measurement reports for components and check their quality. However we find a hands on approach to measuring and checking all components in detail here a must before preproduction builds are undertaken.
Preproduction runs are normally started in small volumes to allow the assembly plant and production engineering to become familiar with the assembly process before ramping up volumes.
We like to be present for these builds so that we can look for potential improvements to assembly process and accommodate design change recommendations from the assembly plant as required. Once a stable assembly methodology is reached a larger preproduction build can be planned and carried out before samples are submitted for independent certification testing and production approval sign off.
For certification testing it is important that parts are assembled with factory staff and equipment as they would be in production. Small changes in production process or components can sometimes yield different results in product testing and we are aiming to provide you a repeatable product solution. It is important that you or your factory put in process to ensure on going quality.
Examples of services provided at this stage:
- Production tool components quality reviewed.
- Preproduction build review and reports generated.
- Production drawings released with quality inspection notes.
- Product testing.
- Certification testing management.
- Production hand over.
- Fault finding.
- Product cost down assessments.
- Factory inspections.
WHAT WE ROCK AT.
- Design for manufacture – from high volume automation to low volume hand assembly
- Electrical and electronic integration of mechanical interfaces – working cross functionally with hardware engineers (electromechanical)
- Molded component design – injection molded and die cast
- Sheet-metal component design – high volume progression tooled to low volume fabricated
- Machined component design
- User interface design – keypad design, touch screens and user centered design
- Environmental sealing design