You have an idea for a new product – one that will solve a problem for many. How exactly do you create and distribute that product to the masses? This is the first step in a long list of steps that so many entrepreneurs get stopped in their tracks and give up their dreams. You don’t have to be one of these people.
The product development process doesn’t have to be so intimidating. In fact, it can be quite exciting and, with the right partner, can be a fairly seamless process. Let’s dive into developing a new product and the steps needed to ensure yours crosses the finish line.
Step 1: Product Idea Creation and Market Research
The first step in developing a new product is conceptualizing the idea and conducting thorough market research. Simply put, define the problem your product is trying to solve and identify its target market. By understanding market trends, customer needs, and potential competitors, you can refine your concept and gain valuable insights that will guide you through the product development phases.
Step 2: Collaboration and Project Planning
Creating a product that is connected to the cloud or other devices requires multiple disciplines and collaboration between software developers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and industrial designers. Establishing a cross-functional team to facilitate communication and streamline the development process is vital to the success of your product.
Developing a detailed project plan is needed to outline each discipline’s responsibilities, timelines, and dependencies to ensure everyone is on the same page. If you or your company does not already have these teams in place, enlist the expertise of an experienced partner with this knowledge and staffing.
Creating a Tech Savvy Multi-Disciplined Team
Software development plays a crucial role in any modern product. Define the software requirements and functionalities based on the product concept. Engage software developers to create a user-friendly interface, implement the desired features, and optimize performance. Regular feedback loops and iterations will help refine the software component throughout the development process.
The electrical engineering aspect of the product involves designing and integrating electronic components, circuit boards, and power management systems. Collaborate with electrical engineers to define the electrical specifications, select appropriate parts, and ensure compatibility with other system elements. Close communication with the software team is essential to ensure seamless integration and synchronization of both software and hardware.
Mechanical engineering focuses on the product’s physical structure, mechanisms, and overall functionality. You must work closely with mechanical engineers to design the product enclosure, mechanical components, and manufacturing processes. Consider factors such as ergonomics, durability, and ease of assembly. Conduct prototyping and testing to refine the mechanical design seamlessly.
Industrial design encompasses the product’s visual aesthetics, user experience, and branding. Collaborate with industrial designers to create a cohesive and visually appealing design that aligns with your target audience’s desires. Consider factors such as form, color, texture, and user interaction. Industrial designers should work closely with the mechanical engineering team to ensure the design is manufacturable without compromising functionality.
Step 3: Designing for Cost-Effective Manufacturing
Creating a product that is easily and cost-effectively manufactured is crucial for its consumer adoption and commercial success. When creating a new product, you must consider the following strategies during the design phase:
Design for Assembly (DFA):
Optimize the product’s design to minimize the number of components, simplify assembly processes, and reduce production time. Streamline the assembly sequence and ensure the product can be easily disassembled for maintenance or repair.
Design for Manufacturing (DFM):
Design components with manufacturing processes in mind. Optimize part geometries, tolerances, and material selection to facilitate efficient production. Minimize complex tooling requirements and aim for standardization anywhere possible.
Select materials that strike a balance between cost, functionality, and quality. Consider the production volumes and choose materials that can be sourced easily and at competitive prices. Assess the environmental impact of the materials used and strive for sustainability.
Engage with suppliers early in development to gain insights into their capabilities, costs, and lead times. Collaborate closely with suppliers to ensure the design aligns with their manufacturing processes and limitations. Seek their expertise to optimize the product’s manufacturability and identify opportunities for cost savings.
Design for Scalability:
Anticipate future production increases and decreases by designing the product with volume manufacturing in mind. Consider modular designs, standardized components, and automation possibilities to facilitate efficient scaling without compromising quality. You hope your product is quickly adopted among your consumers, so design it so you can ramp up production when demand is high.
If you’re partnering with an experienced company with the teams in place to take your product into manufacturing, all of these factors should be considered at the initial design phase of development. This will greatly reduce the guesswork and time to market.
Step 4: Prototyping and Testing
Create prototypes and repetitiously test the design to identify any potential manufacturing challenges or design flaws. This allows for early detection and the correction of issues, reducing the risk of costly manufacturing problems during mass production.
Step 5: Commercialization
Commercialization is extremely vital and one of the most exciting phases where your product transitions from development to market for purchase. Here you will see validation of all your hard work. You will deploy marketing campaigns to your target market to gain brand and product awareness, generating revenue. Many companies choose to relaunch their product several times, as there may be technological advances or updates to the finalized design.
Step 6: Cost Analysis and Optimization
Regularly assess your manufacturing costs and identify areas where cost optimization is possible. You should evaluate alternative manufacturing processes, material substitutions, or design modifications that reduce production expenses without sacrificing quality or functionality. Once your product has been adopted by the masses, the quality standard is set. Changing your design in a way that could negatively impact the user experience will cause your target market to abandon your product, leaving you with an abundance of inventory and a soured name.
Choosing an Experienced Design Company to Help Bring Your Product to Market
Developing any new product requires careful coordination and collaboration between teams, especially if you’re developing an IoT or connected product. You can create a cohesive and successful product by following a systematic approach and integrating each discipline’s expertise. Also, initially designing the product with cost-effective manufacturing in mind ensures its commercial viability. Implementing strategies such as Design for Assembly (DFA), Design for Manufacturing (DFM), material selection, supplier collaboration, scalability, and cost optimization will help streamline the manufacturing process, reduce production costs, and enhance overall profitability.
Pivot International has over 50 years of experience designing, developing, and manufacturing connected products. We work closely with our customers to turn their dreams into reality. Our products can be seen in a range of industries, including medical, industrial, agriculture, sports and entertainment, and oil and gas. We offer guidance in all steps of the product development process, including initial design through scalable manufacturing. We also provide contract manufacturing for customers that need more cost-effective manufacturing. Pivot owns over 300,000 square feet of electronic manufacturing space, that’s spread across three continents. If you need help developing your new product or just need guidance on taking your current product to the next level, contact our team today.