A concept is something more than an idea but is not yet a product. The concept is a detailed statement of what the new product will be and what it is designed to do. At this stage of the process, the concept must be examined in terms of the proposed product's strategic fit. That is, in light of company objectives, strengths, weaknesses, resources, new product criteria, and prevailing market and competitive conditions. The concept generation, selection and testing phases of new product development may be thought of as a search for the most profitable solution to a design problem.
Concept generation is an integral part of the new product development process. It is an idea of doing a structured process to generate design concepts is one of the most difficult concepts to teach, where the skill, experience and creativity of design team are used to generate designs which address the identified needs of the clients and the users. Ideas are like prototypes need to be tested to verify they fit customer and client needs.
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According author Ulrich and Eppinger, 2003
"Thorough exploration of alternatives early in the development process greatly reduces the likelihood that the team will stumble upon a superior concept late in the development process or that a competitor will introduce a product with dramatically better performance than the product under development."
The advantage of concept generation is can reduce the likelihood of costly problems later in the development process, because in the early concept generation is a very affordable way of looking at a lot of alternatives.
A good concept design requires the use of intuition, imagination and logic to come up with creative solutions to the, now well-defined, problem. The main difficulty in concept design is sufficiently to come up with original concepts.
Three concept generation methods are: task analysis, product function analysis, and life cycle analysis. Together these methods can be thought of as ways 'force-generating' concepts.
Most products are designed to be used, in some way, by people. When examined in detail, the product-user interface for even the simplest of products is often complex and rarely well understood. Consequently, this aspect of product design often provides a rich source of inspiration on concept design. Task analysis exp0lores the interaction the product and the person who uses it by observation and analysis and then uses the results to generate new product concepts. It gives the designer firsthand experience of how customers actually use products. Through this, it stimulates concept generation to improve the user interface and paves the way for the subsequent application of ergonomic or anthropometric design methods.
Product function analysis
Product function analysis is a powerful technique which can be used on its own for concept design or used as the first step in two other design methods, value analysis and failure modes and effects analysis. Product function analysis is a fundamentally customer-oriented technique. Throughout, it presents the functions of the product as perceived by the customer and as ranked in importance by the customer. For products with complex, or not properly understood customer functions, it will have to be based on formal market research.
Life cycle analysis
This technique is used most widely by designers interested in improving the environmental-friendliness of new products but in principle it is applicable to design for all purposes. By mapping out the life cycle of a product from the time it enters the factory as raw materials to the time it is discarded after use by the customer, the designer is forced to think about how well the product is designed for each of these life cycle stages.
Generation is a divergent process. There are including gather data, study information, define and understand the problem. Besides that, observations, interviews, scenarios, benchmarking is also included. It is focus on creativity and goes for quality.
Five concept generation processes are: clarify the problem, search externally, search internally, explore systematically, and reflect and evaluate.
Step 1: Clarify the problem
Clarify the problem is start with the customer needs analysis and functional specs as inputs. It is focus initial efforts on critical sub problems and decompose a complex problem into simple sub problems if necessary.
Step 2: Search externally
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There are five ways to gather information from external sources, which are lead user interviews, expert consultation, patent searches, literature searches and competitive benchmarking.
Step 3: Search internally
Internal search is the use of personal and team knowledge and creativity to generate solution concepts. This is including make analogies, wish and wonder, use related stimuli, use unrelated stimuli, set quantitative goals, and use gallery method.
Step 4: Explore systematically
The team should have a collection of concept fragments so they are able to managing the exploration process. The goal of systematic exploration is to synthesize a complete solution from the concept fragments.
Step 5: Reflect on the results and the process
Reflect on the results and the process is the process continuous improvement.
Following concept generation, the next stage of product development is concept selection. Concept selection is an iterative process closely related to concept generation and testing. It is the narrowing of multiple product concepts to a single, "best" design. A key input to this process is the predicted market performance of a product concept was it to be launched.
Selecting the best product concept is one of critical tasks in product development process. Making decisions at this stage becomes very difficult due to imprecise and uncertain product requirements.
Modern methods of concept selection are due to large extent to pioneering work of Stuart Pugh (1990) at Strathclyde University in Scotland. Pugh developed the notion of controlled convergence on a single selected concept. Concept selection during product development process is an iterative process that narrows the number of concepts quickly and selects the best concept.
After identifying a set of customer needs and target specifications, a product development team will generate a number of product concepts from which the team will select the best one. Concept selection is an iterative process that includes concept screening and concept scoring which is leading to a single concept upon which subsequent development activities will be focused.
The purpose of concept screening is to narrow the number of product concept quickly and to improve the concept Pugh (1990). There are three possible outcomes resulted from the concept screening which are superior concept, inferior concept and revised or new concept. A superior concept is a concept that is worth considering to be further assessed, while an inferior concept needs to be thrown out since it is not worth considering.
In straightforward, concept screening gives relative score against a known benchmark design. It is fast because using approximate evaluation that produces several viable concepts. And is best used when quantitative comparisons are difficult and useful for eliminating alternatives when there are large number needs to consider.
There are six step of concept screening:
1. Prepare the selection matrix
2. Rate the concepts
3. Rank the concepts
4. Combine and improve concepts
5. Select one or more concepts
6. Reflect on the results and the process
After having a set of concept candidates consisting of superior concepts and revised or new concepts, the concept scoring then takes place. At this stage, the product development team weighs the relative weight of the selection criteria and evaluates each product concept with respect to each selection criterion. The concept scores are determined by the weighted sum of the rating. The concept with the highest score is then selected.
Means that concept scoring is used to refine the selection when there are only have a few choices. It is weighted ranking of measurement criteria. It used when only a few alternatives are being considered and just required quantitative comparisons of concepts. Not only that, it can be quite subjective due to choices of weights and ranks.
There are six step of concept scoring:
1. Preparing the selection matrix
2. Rate the Concepts
3. Rank the Concepts
4. Combining and improving is similar to concept screening
5. Select one or more concepts
6. Reflect on the Results
The process screening and scoring is process filter and decides of concept generation by using external decision, product champion, intuition, multi-voting, pros and cons, prototype and test and decision matrices. Almost every team uses some method for decision making.
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External decision is the let the customer, client, or someone else to make decide.
Product champion is an influential team member chooses the concept.
Intuition is subjective criteria are used to decide. It just chosen by its "feel".
Multi-voting is team members vote based upon group opinion and chosen for their favourite.
Pros and Cons is the team list strengths and weaknesses and choose based on group opinions.
Prototype and test is the team builds several unit prototypes and decision is based on the test prototype results.
Decision matrices are team rates each concept against defined selection criteria.
The first round of concept selection ranks the concepts in relation to a series of selection criteria from the opportunity specification. This is done by means of a concept selection matrix in which the concepts are arranged along one axis of the matrix and selection criteria along the other. To make the ranking procedure simple, each concept is judged 'better than' (scored as +), 'worse than' (scored as -) or 'the same as' (scored as 0) a reference concept. This reference concept should be the best current competitor to the proposed new product. The outcome of the ranking process will be a single number expressing the relative merit of each concept. From these ranks, attention focuses on the better concepts. Now comes the concept hybridisation and generation phase. Essentially this sets out to take all the good features from the different concepts and combine them into a single product. At the same time the weak features should be eliminated. So, look closely at the concepts which were strong overall but which scored - on any of the criteria.
Below are the benefits of structured concept selection:
A customer focused approach-concepts are evaluated against customer-oriented criteria, so the selected concept is likely to be focused on the customer.
More competitive designs-concepts are benchmarked against best-in-class designs, designers can push the design to match or exceed their competitors' performance along key dimensions.
Reduced development time-using a structured approach develops a common vision and language for the design, manufacturing, industrial and project manager team.
Better product-process coordination-respect to manufacturing criteria improves the product's manufacturability and helps to match the product with the process capabilities of the firm.
Better group decision making-the decision is more likely to be based on objective criteria and minimizes the likelihood that arbitrary or personal factors influence the product concept.
Documentation-the method provides its own documentation for quickly assessing the impact of changes in the customer needs or in the available alternatives.
Concept Scoring and Screening matrices are only used on those few (less than 5) design problems that will make a significant difference in the outcome of project. And don't need the formality of concept scoring and screening for obvious design choices or those that are dictated by the preferred solution.
There are concept selections techniques select the best concept against criteria derived from the opportunity specification. Probably more importantly, they provide a framework for hybridising and expanding the range of concepts generated initially. Concept selection can, therefore, comprise a highly creative and invaluable conclusion to the concept development process.
A concept testing is a search for the most profitable solution to a design problem. When allocating resources, developers must balance the cost of testing multiple designs against the potential profits that may result. Means that, concept testing is the attempt to predict the success of a new product idea before it is marketed. It usually involves getting people's reactions to a statement describing the basic idea of the product. As such, it is usually pass or fail, go or no go to selecting the best among alternative concepts. The ultimate goal of concept testing is to allow companies to make informed "go" or "no go" decisions and thus save capital, time and effort.
Concept testing may be thought as a search for the "best" design, positioning, pricing, and manufacturing of a new product. It probably the most valuable and challenging application of qualitative research, but how much budget should be allocated to testing new product concepts? And how many tests should be conducted? "Innovation" through multiple product concepts increases expected profit through the discovery of incrementally better designs, but because concepts are costly to generate and test, the design team must balance costs and benefits to maximize expected profits net of the cost of testing.
Concept testing is an essential tool for managers who must bring new imaging and document technology products to market so designer need to conduct research throughout their development effort to ensure they are developing solutions for relevant problems, understand customer requirements, and are emphasizing valued features.
There is the concept testing process:
Step 1: Define the purpose of the concept test
Concept testing is essentially an experimental activity, and as with any experiment, knowing the purpose of the experiment is essential to designing an effective experimental method.
Step 2: Choose a survey population
Choose a survey population is choose the survey potential customers from the largest segment to do the testing process.
Step 3: Choose a survey format
There are various surveys format can be carry out and it depends partially on the situations and the environments such as by email, phone, post or direct face to face. But it is undeniable that each of the survey format presents risks of sample bias.
Step 4: Communicate the concept
There have several way of communicate which are verbal description, sketch, storyboard, video and simulation. The choice of the survey format is closely linked to the way which the concept will be communicated.
Step 5: Measure customer response
Customer response will be very important because identify customer needs because it is the first step to be carry out in new product implementation.
Step 6: Interpret the results
By using calculation, which Q = N x A x P
Q = sales in annual
N = number of annual purchases
A = awareness x availability in fractions
P = probability of purchase in surveyed
Step 7: Reflect on the results and the process
Reflect on the outcome and the process will always be the last step and it is very important been carried out to ensure successful product development. The product concept should allow the teams to actually set the specifications so that the product will meet the customer needs and perform competitively.