Decision Making in Engineering Design
20 Product Development and Decision Production Systems
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A product development organization faces many challenges as it strives to become a market leader. Goals of attaining superior quality, rapid time-to-market and low cost are often thwarted by poor decisions based on incomplete or missing information. A company's existing product portfolio will become less profitable over time due to changes in manufacturing technology, consumer preferences and government regulations (to name a few influences). The sales volume graph of a typical product starts slowly, accelerates, becomes flat and then steadily declines. Although there may be a few products that remain profitable for many years, vibrant firms must continually develop new products that will generate more profits.
Product development is a complex and lengthy process of identifying a need, designing, manufacturing and delivering a solution—often in the form of a physical object—to the end-user. Product development is a difficult task made more difficult by the challenges inherent in complex, open-ended and ill-defined tasks. A successful product development process incorporates information inputs from seemingly unrelated and remote areas of an organization into the decision-making process .
A product development organization includes the accountants, purchasing agents, marketing specialists, customer liaisons, data managers, engineers, managers and other personnel who make process and product engineering decisions and perform these activities. (Note: In this discussion, the term new product covers the redesign of an existing product as well.)