Product Design Definition, Meaning, Characteristics, Objectives, Types, Importance

Table of Contents:-

  • Definition of Product Design
  • Meaning of Product Design
  • Characteristics of a Good Product Design
  • Objectives of Product Design
  • Types of Product Design
  • Importance of Product Design
  • Elements of Product Design

Definition of Product Design

According to C.S. Deverell, “Product Design in its broadest sense includes the whole development of the product through all the preliminary stages until actual manufacturing begins”.

From the production manager’s point of view, the critical output of the product design activity is the product specification. These specifications provide the basis for a host of decisions he must make, including the purchase of materials, selection of equipment, assignment of workers, and often even the size and layout of the productive facility. Product specifications, while commonly thought of as a blueprint or engineering drawings may take a variety of other forms ranging from highly precise quantitative statements to rather fluid guidelines.

Meaning of Product Design

Product selection is choosing the good or service to provide clients and customers. The selection of products has been investigated by marketing researchers and cognitive engineers for many years. Product selection is the outcome of comparing a personally derived set of criteria. Some criteria are more important than others. The values of all the requirements are integrated, and a preference configuration is developed. Based on this configuration, the consumer selects a product.

Design is the conversion of knowledge and requirements into a form, convenient and suitable for use in manufacturing. It is observed that inputs of the organization‘s resources result in properly designed products and services known as outputs satisfying the customer’s desire.

Product design can be defined as “the translation of intellectual wisdom, requirements of the entrepreneurs, needs of the consumers, etc, into a specific product”.

Characteristics of Product Design

A good product design should contain the following characteristics:

1) Reliability: The product must perform properly for the designated period.

2) Quality: The product must satisfy the customer’s stated and unstated needs.

3) Functionality: The product must function properly for its intended purpose.

4) Maintainability: The product must perform for a designated period with a minimum and defined maintenance. Satisfactory requirements for maintenance should be kept in the product.

5) Productivity: The product must be produced with the required quantity and quality at a defined and feasible cost.

6) Cost Effectiveness: The product must be cost-effective. They must be manufactured in the most cost-effective environment.

7) Standardisation: The product should be designed in such a fashion so that most of the components are standardized and easily available in the market.

8) Safety: The product must be safe for the user and should not cause any accident while using or should not cause any health hazard to the user. The designer must ensure safety in storage, handling and usage.

Objectives of Product Design

The objectives of designing the product may be summarized as follows:

1) To enlarge the importance of the product from the customers’ point of view.

2) To produce better quality at the lowest possible price.

3) The first objective of designing is to create attention to the product to increase the sales potential.

4) To make the product more effective and create more utility in the product for the consumer.

Types of Product Design

The following are the types of product design:

1) Aesthetic Design

Before production on a commercial scale is undertaken, another type of design must be integrated with the functional design and it is aesthetic design or style or fashion design for market acceptability. The emphasis on styling has become a functional design in recent years. It is not enough to be sure that the functional design of the proposed product is good and economical, it should be appealing to the customers’ eyes and induce them to buy the product.

2) Packing Design

Packing design should also be appealing to consumers depending upon the size and the nature of the product. Different packaging materials can be used to suit the consumers’ needs and maintain the product’s chemical properties. The product designer should use as far as possible standard parts or assemblies to reduce the cost of production because standard parts in some cases may be purchased cheaper from outside firms specializing in their manufacture. The product designer should also know about the possibility of simplification and diversification of the product.

3) Functional Design

Functional design involves developing an idea into a tough model of the proposed products. This necessitates first making a rough sketch of the proposed products to give some idea of its shape and of the parts necessary to accomplish its purpose. Then, the designer makes drafting room sketches of the individual parts in the correct dimensions and then a full sketch of the proposed products. After this experimental models are prepared. Before moving on to a product design, the models of the proposed products should be thoroughly tested to make sure that they will function properly for a certain period and under varying conditions.

4) Production Design

Generally, the functional design is translated to production design to make it easy to manufacture. Production design means a design which may result in affecting the economy without affecting its functional efficiency. As soon as the product has been fully tested to determine whether it is functioning correctly, it must be checked to see if any design changes can be made that will affect economies when the item is produced but will not affect its functional efficiency. In carrying out production design, any special tools, jigs or fixtures needed in production should be noted, and the tool department should carry out their designing.

Importance of Product Design

The importance of product design is explained through the following points:

1) Product design plays a vital role in lowering the cost of manufacturing for competitive advantage.

2) To enter into new prospective business through related or unrelated diversification, product design is essential.

3) Product design is a critical factor in organizational success because it sets the characteristics, features, and performance of the service or good that consumers demand.

4) Product design is an essential activity for firms competing in a global environment.

5) Product design is important in making more profits by attracting more customers through its design and packaging.

6) Product design shapes the product’s quality. It defines the way that goods and services function.

7) Product design can also be an important mechanism for coordinating the activities of key supply chain participants.

Elements of Product Design

The different elements involved in product design are given as follows:

  • Reverse Engineering
  • Standardisation
  • Research and Development
  • Robust Design
  • Manufacturability
  • Computer-aided Design
  • Modular Design
  • Life Cycle of a Product
  • Concurrent Engineering

1) Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering is the process of carefully dismantling an existing product (of a competitor) step by step to understand the unique underlying concepts. It helps design new products that are better than those of competitors. In the field of customer electronics, Sony Corporation is at the forefront of designing new innovative items such as the Walkman, handycam, digital cameras, etc. Many other companies have to follow the reverse engineering approach to break Sony’s monopoly of new products in the shortest possible time.

2) Standardisation

Standardisation refers to less variety in the design of products, ie, new products are designed such that there is no major variation from the existing productions. For example, all computers and typewriters have the same arrangement of keys in the keyboard because it has become a standard consumers are used to. Although many other more efficient designs of keyboard keys are available, no company is willing to take the risk of deviating from this standard.

3) Research and Development

The design of new product is done by the Research and Development (R&D) department of organizations with the help of many other departments. In R&D, fundamental research is the advancement of the state of knowledge in a subject, though it may be practically converted into commercial applications. For example, when Newton found the law of gravity, it was fundamental research, which did not have immediate applications. Over time, many commercial applications of the law such as space rocket propulsion, high-speed elevators, etc, came into existence.

4) Robust Design

Robust design means designing a product that is operational in unstable environmental circumstances. For example, if you compare a car with a jeep (a four-wheel drive), the jeep is more robust in design as it can even be used efficiently in hilly areas with poor road conditions. The Japanese engineer Genichi Taguchi emphasized that it is easier to create a product with a robust design rather than making changes in the environment to suit the product.

5) Manufacturability

Manufacturability implies designing a product in such a way that its manufacturing and assembling can be done easily. While designing a new product, the manufacturing capabilities (such as existing machines, equipment, skills of workers, etc.) of the organization have to be kept in mind. If the required capabilities do not exist, the management can consider enhancing the production capabilities by making more investments.

6) Computer-Aided Design

Computer-aided design (CAD) is software which helps the designer to make the three-dimensional design of a product on the computer and visualize the design from various angles. ln the earlier times, when CAD software was not available, design engineers had to make designs from various angles (say, front, back, side, top, and bottom views of the product/components) on paper charts by using rulers and other equipment, which was tedious and time-consuming. The designs made on CAD can be seen at different workstations through intranets simultaneously. Also, these can be transmitted to distant locations (for comments of experts, etc.) using the Internet.

7) Modular Design

One of the significant aspects of the product design is modular design. Modular design is another type of standardisation, which means designing a product in modules. The modules are assemblies of different components and parts. It not only helps to realize & the product of the organization, but also in realizing similar products in the future. Modular design directly influences the cost and complexity of the conversion process. The modular design concept gives consumers a range of product options and, at the same time, offers considerable advantages in manufacturing and product design. Stabilizing the designs of the modules makes them easier to build. Problems are easier to diagnose, and the modules are easier to service. Production proficiency increases as personnel refine and gain experience with the manufacturing processes for standardized sets of modules.

8) Life Cycle of a Product

The product life cycle has five stages spread throughout a product’s life. These are incubation, growth, maturity, saturation, and decline. The duration of the life of a product depends upon the type of product. The incubation stage witnesses a low demand for the product owing to the customer not being aware of the new product. As the awareness increases and new features are added to the product over some time, the demand starts growing and this phase is called the growth phase of the life cycle. Next follows the maturity stage, when the demand tends to become stable and even new features do not appeal much to the masses, leading to the saturation phase and eventually the decline phase.

9) Concurrent Engineering

Concurrent engineering is the product design approach in which the design team includes personnel from various departments. This includes members from the marketing department (to specify the customer requirements), engineering department (to look at the feasibility of the design), production department (to suggest if production capability exists for the plan), materials department (to give inputs about material availability according to design specifications), and the finance department (to suggest the financial feasibility of the design) in addition to the design department.

This approach is radically opposite to the classical sequential product design approach in which the design process takes place in stages, moving from one department to the other. Concurrent engineering saves a lot of time, unlike the sequential approach in which feedback between departments, at times leading to rejections of the suggested designs at later stages, results in the wastage of a lot of effort and time.

Requirements of a good product design

Defining what constitutes a good design is challenging, yet specific fundamental requirements must be met for a design to be effective. These include:

(a) Customer Satisfaction

i. The product should function correctly.

ii. It should possess the desired degree of accuracy.

iii. It should have the desired degree of reliability.

iv. It should be easy to operate; for instance, multiple controls should be operable from one position.

v. It should be sufficiently rugged to withstand all but exceptionally rough handling.

vi. It should have a pleasant appearance; colour and surface finish are crucial in product design.

vii. It should be reasonably priced compared to other products.

viii. Product design should facilitate accessibility for servicing.

ix. Good space utilization should result from product design.

(b) Adequate Profit

i. Making an adequate profit necessitates low manufacturing costs.

ii. The product should be easy to manufacture within available resources.

iii. It should consist of a minimum number of parts.

iv. It should require a minimal number of manufacturing operations.

v. The manufacturing process should be determined based on the product quantity to be manufactured; for example, mass production of small parts may involve die casting rather than sand casting.

vi. Utilizing standard parts whenever possible leads to significant cost savings.

vii. Good product design should keep the throughput time the same.

viii. A well-designed product should be easy to pack and distribute.

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