Product Design Continued: Harmony with Manufacturing

Adding more to my previous post on avoiding product overdesign, new products need to also be prepared for manufacturing appropriately or are manufacture-able, (yes, I made up a word). Or, better said: you got the idea, got the manual, got the parts, but do you have the engineering in place in order to make your product? Without connecting a product design team with your production team EARLY on in your development process, your game-changing idea can quickly be thrown into the bin.

Personal example: I was the New Product Development Intern for a dietary supplements company and I had an idea to combine Vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid, and astaxanthin (try saying that five times fast) into a convenient daily softgel capsule to market as a “cosmoceutical,” (promise I didn’t make up that word; a cosmoceutical is a functional food that is designed to provide aesthetic benefits for your hair, skin, and nails). My naïve dreams of making an incredible product that would fly off the shelves early on in my tenure were quickly squashed when I realized we didn’t have a contract manufacturer to take on the challenge of this new product. Not only was the one feasible manufacturer not capable of formulating the product, they’d never worked with two of the main active ingredients and my company hadn’t ordered the ingredients before. Needless to say, despite the push from my marketing department to get the product available for an Anti-Aging conference, the product never made it passed the drawing board.

So, where did I mess up?

Glad you asked. I blundered at quite a few points in the new product development process: I didn’t check my company’s current Standard Operating Procedures (or S.O.P.s for all you fancy-speaking folk), I didn’t research into additional parameters both within and without my organization, and I tried doing this by myself. And despite there being a “me” in “team,” not a single product introduction can be done by one person, no matter how small your establishment is. Great teamwork requires, also, great communication. Even though I thought I was communicating my grandiose idea out to all the key players in developing and selling this product, little did I know at the time that I was WAY over my head with under-communicating. I was the dark-horse, the wild card, the rebel without a purpose. So obviously, my fantastic cosmoceutical product quickly ended up in the trash can amongst my other “phenomenal” ideas that were poorly executed.

So, what did I learn?

That’s another good question; thank you for asking. Like with many change endeavors (there’s that c-word again), your team needs to understand the current state before you shape the path to get everyone to the desired state. Because I jumped straight on the roller-coaster known as my new product idea without reading the height and safety requirements that were my company’s current SOPs my cosmoceutical product got quickly derailed. Your team needs to understand your company’s and your partners’/vendors’ capabilities to better equip your designing team to efficiently and effectively create mind-blowing products ready for sale. By mapping out your function within your team’s manufacturing capabilities will make the product designing process much more efficient.

Let me know what other steps your design team should do pre-emptively prior to product design and check out this blog post by Eric Eriksson on further defining product design.

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One comment

  1. […] continue my introductory series on product design (see my first two posts: Product Overdesign and Harmony with Manufacturing), I wanted to delve into the question I find most difficult to answer when it comes to creating […]


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