11. What are the Product Design Specifications (PDS) to develop a new electronic product?

Monday, 17 February 2014

11. What are the Product Design Specifications (PDS) to develop a new electronic product?


PRODUCT DESIGN SPECIFICATION

In order to provide specific guidance about how to design and engineer a product, development teams establish a set of specifications, which spell out in precise, measurable detail what the product has to do to be commercially successful. The specifications must reflect the customer needs, differentiate the product from the competitive products, and  be technically and economically realizable. A specification consist of a matric, defining a quality and a value associated for it. Eg. Max. Voltage (matric) = 230V (value)

Specifications are typically established at least twice. Immediately after identifying the customer needs, the team sets target specifications. After concept selection and testing, the team develops final specifications.

TARGET SPECIFICATIONS

Target specifications represent the hopes and aspirations of the team, but they are established before the team knows the constraints the product technology will place on what can be achieved. The team’s efforts may fail to meet some of these specifications and may exceed others, depending on the details of the product concept the team eventually selects.

The process of establishing the target specifications entail four steps:

1.Prepare the list of metrics.
2.Collect competitive benchmarking information.
3.Set ideal and marginally acceptable target values.
4.Reflect on the results and the process.

1.PREPARE THE LIST OF METRICS

The most useful metrics are those that reflect as directly as possible the degree to which the product satisfies the customer needs. The relationship between needs and metrics is central to the entire concept of specifications. The working assumption is that a translation from customer needs to a set of precise, measurable specifications is possible and that meeting specifications will therefore lead to satisfaction of the associated customer needs.

A few guidelines:

• Metrics should be complete.
• Matrics should be dependent, not independent, variables.
• Metrics should be practical.
• Some needs cannot easily be translated into quantifiable metrics.
• The metrics should include the popular criteria for comparison in the marketplace.


2.COLLECT COMPETITIVE BENCHMARKING INFORMATION.

Unless the team experts to enjoy a total monopoly, the relationship of the new product to competitive products is paramount in determining commercial success. While the team will have entered the product development process with some idea of how it wishes to compete in the market place, the target specifications are the language the team uses to discuss and agree on detailed positioning of its product relative to existing products, both its own and competitors.

The benchmarking chart is conceptually very simple. For each competitive product, the values of the metrics are simply entered down a column. Gathering these data can be very time consuming, involving (at the least) purchasing, testing, disassembling , and estimating the production costs of the most important  competitive products.

The benchmarking exercise helps in identifying differences with competitive products and taking positioning decisions are mentioned. It also helps in appreciating the differences which may not be appearing so important. Ex: TATA ACE, the subjective differences were more benchmarking helped in defining the clear distinction for Ace from the available indirect competitive product options.

3.SET IDEAL AND MARGINALLY ACCEPTABLE TARGET VALUES

In this step, the team synthesizes the available information in order to actually set the target values for the metrics. Two types of target values are useful: an ideal value and  marginally acceptable value. The ideal value  is the best result the team could hope for. The marginally acceptable value is the value of the metric that would just barely make the product commercially viable. Both of these targets are useful in guiding the subsequent stages of concept selection, and for refining the specifications after the product concept has been selected.


4.REFLECT ON THE RESULTS AND THE PROCESS

The team may require some iteration to agree on the targets. Reflection after each iteration helps to ensure that the results are consistent with the goals of the project.
Once the targets have been set, the team can proceed to generate solution concepts.

The target specifications then can be used to help the team select a concept and will help the team know when a concept is commercially viable.

FINAL SPECIFICATIONS

Final specifications are developed by assessing the actual technological constraints and the expected production costs using analytical and physical models. During this refinement phase the team must make difficult trade-offs among various desirable characteristics of product.

The five step process for refining the specifications is:

1. Develop technical models of the product.
2. Develop a cost model of the product.
3. Refine the specifications, making trade-offs where necessary.
4. Flow down the specifications as appropriate.
5. Reflect on the results and the process.

1.DEVELOP TECHNICAL MODELS OF THE PRODUCT

A technical model of the product is a tool for predicting the values of the metrics for a particular set of design decisions. The team will be able to accurately model the product analytically, perhaps by implementing the model equations in a spreadsheet. Such a model allows the team to predict rapidly what type of performance can be expected from a particular choice of design variables, without costly physical experimentation.

2.DEVELOP A COST MODEL OF THE PRODUCT

The goal of this step of the process is to make sure that the product can be produced at the target cost. The target cost is the manufacturing cost at which the company and its distribution partners can make adequate profits while still offering the product to the end customer at a competitive price.
For most of the products, the first estimates of manufacturing costs are completed by drafting a bill of materials and estimating  a purchase price or fabrication cost for each part. At this point in the development process the team does not generally know all of the components that will be in the product, but the team nevertheless makes an attempt to list the components it expects will be required.

3.REFINE THE SPECIFICATIONS, MAKING TRADE-OFFS WHERE NECESSARY

Once the team has constructed technical performance models where possible and constructed a preliminary cost model, these tools can be used to develop final specifications. Finalizing specifications can be accomplished in a group session in which feasible combinations of values are determined through the use of the technical models and then the cost implications are explored.
One important tool for supporting this decision-making process is the competitive map.

4.FLOW DOWN THE SPECIFICATIONS AS APPROPRIATE

Establishing specifications takes on additional importance and is substantially more challenging when developing a highly complex product consisting of multiple subsystems designed by multiple development teams. In such a context, specifications are used to define the development objectives of each of the subsystems as well as for the product as a whole. The challenge in this case is to flow down the overall specifications to specifications for each subsystems.

5.REFLECT ON THE RESULTS AND THE PROCESS

As always, the final step in the method is to reflect on the outcome and the process.

The specifications process is facilitated by several simple information systems which can easily be created using conventional spreadsheet software. Tools such as the list of metrics, the needs-metrics matrix, the competitive benchmarking charts, and the competitive maps all support the team’s decision making by providing the team with a way to represent and discuss the specifications.
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