How Collaborative Product Design Boosts Manufacturing Profitability

How Collaborative Product Design Boosts Manufacturing Profitability

Manufacturing companies frequently run into roadblocks when developing new products. It’s never easy to create something that’s brand new and totally innovative, no matter if you are a mid-sized company just breaking into the industry or a well-established manufacturer with years of successful product development behind you. Open innovation and collaborative product design are key ways to help your company break through these roadblocks and develop a product that’s both innovative and profitable.

For many, the idea of collaborative product design is an unknown. Inviting another team to help develop your project is a daunting thought for many, but when you actively incorporate another team of experts, you open your product up to a variety of new perspectives that help differentiate and make your product better than what’s already on the market. Innovative networking, especially with reputable, experienced product design and engineering firms, will help you produce better ideas. And better ideas mean better products and better profits.

Let’s take a look at a few of the ways that collaborating with a product design and engineering firm can boost your manufacturing profitability:

Leverage Multidisciplinary Expertise

While your team has highly-specific, relevant experience within your company and industry, a design and engineering partner will have more diverse experience in a variety of industries. The product differentiation that comes from this diverse experience is what will help set your product and your company apart as a leader in your market.

For example, the Fredricks Design team regularly partners with clients developing vehicles, seating, consumer products, and healthcare solutions. In any project we take on, we’re able to apply our experience in each of those industries to design and engineer a product that’s both innovative and functional. Collaborating with a product design and engineering firm offers your team an additional range of expertise that can be applied to develop a unique, innovative, and profitable product.

Expand Internal Capabilities Without Hiring New Team Members

New product development is a complex endeavor. Most often, companies turn to either a product development partner who can complete the feasibility process and who has the capacity to engineer and build products, or they hire on a new engineer for a short period of time to do the same work. We dive extensively into this choice in our article New Product Development Contractor Vs. Outsourced Development Team, but you might consider that partnering with a product design and engineering firm can expand your internal capabilities quickly and effectively, without the hassle of hiring a new, temporary team member.

When you partner with an experienced design and engineering studio, there’s no need for training or catching engineers up to speed. Rather, this collaborative approach offers all of the creative and design capabilities you need, while keeping your product moving swiftly to market without interruptions or delays.

Control Project Costs

Great product design conserves budget. A design and engineering studio understands this and works with their clients and partners during every product phase to develop innovative designs that meet budget constraints. When you work with a design and engineering firm, your contract will specify your budget and expense capabilities, ensuring your product development remains within those constraints. What’s more, a reputable design and engineering firm will have relationships with build sources and property fabricators and can work closely with all parties to develop and engineer a product that maximizes your company’s return on investment.

Reduce Time to Market

A key contributor to your product’s manufacturing profitability is how quickly you can move a quality product to market. Collaborating with a professional design and engineering studio offers a number of benefits that help reduce your product’s time to market. First and foremost, they’re able to apply relevant past experience to your product, which helps speed the development process along.

Additionally, you’ll have just one responsive point of contact throughout development, making it easy to communicate and make adjustments in real-time. Finally, a product design and engineering team has a deep understanding of the development process. They know how to overcome technical obstacles that could delay product introductions, and can help you address any obstacles before they become an issue, ensuring your product reaches the market on schedule.

Collaborative product design boosts manufacturing profitability by helping your company develop a new, innovative product that is differentiated from other products already on the market, that meets project cost budgets, and that moves to market swiftly. By partnering with a reputable design and engineering studio, you are able to leverage their multidisciplinary experience, expanding your team’s capabilities without the hassle of hiring temporary or contracted engineers.

If your manufacturing company is looking for assistance in developing a new, innovative product for your market, get in touch with Fredricks Design. We collaborate with manufacturing teams in a variety of industries to develop profitable products that stand out from the competition. Let us know what we can innovate for you.

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When To Start Preparing For CES

When To Start Preparing For CES

Product showcase events — whether they’re a regional auto show or something as big as CES — are some of the most important events for any manufacturing company. If your team has been working long and hard to develop a new technology or product, an industry event is your chance to get people fired up and start moving some product.

Most often, the task of showcasing a product at such an event comes down to the marketing team. The marketing team is responsible for developing and sending out an RFP, and collaborating with the selected product design and engineering studio to develop a showcase property that puts your product in its best light.

This entire process starts with the RFP, which is why it’s so important to develop an effective RFP that proposes a clear, realistic timeline. We’ve written a complete Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Realistic RFP, so feel free to check that out for more in-depth information, but today we wanted to focus specifically on when you should send your request for a display property proposal.

The timeline is a crucial step of RFP development that many businesses and marketing teams miss, and it can make or break the success of your display property. When given adequate time, a product design and engineering firm can develop a property that makes a big impression. Without that time, however, your marketing team may struggle to make the impact you’d hoped for.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding when to send out your request for product showcase proposal or RFP:

When Is Your Event?

First and foremost — when do you absolutely need the product showcase property? The date of your show or event is the first place to start. And from our experience, if that’s the day you plan to have the property, you’re probably going to be late. If your show is in April, you might want to start thinking about what your RFP will look like before people leave in December for the holidays. That way you can ensure your RFP is sent out with plenty of time for development.

Depending on the size of your company, it can take weeks to write the RFP document, decide who you’re going to send it to, and then you’ll still have to wait for people to respond. No matter the size or scale of your project, you should start writing an RFP at least 12 weeks ahead of the event date, if not more. That may seem to overshoot the time required, but trust us, there are a lot of moving parts and the show creeps up on everyone.

What Is The Scale Of Your Project?

Think about the scale of the property you’re requesting. If your marketing department is responsible for developing and sending the RFP, along with spearheading property development, it’s worthwhile to talk to your engineering and design department first. Speak with the people who’ve spent the most time developing your product or technology, and ask them how long they’d estimate a showcase property taking.

Every product showcase proposal is different — some require the seamless integration of multiple technologies and products, while some function to display just one project. Your engineering department can help you get a better idea of the scale of your project. From there, you can adjust your timeline accordingly. If you need a large-scale project, consider extending your proposed timeline by a few weeks.

How Much Support Do You Need?

Every company works to develop product showcase properties differently. Some companies may want their own engineers and designers to have input and collaboration on the development of the new property. Other companies may hand the showcase project entirely over to a marketing department with little engineering support.

A marketing team that’s tasked with developing a display property on their own will need more technical support and should add a bit more time on to their RFP process to accommodate for that additional support.

A Few Additional Considerations For Your RFP Timeline

Production timelines can be slippery. The best way to keep them reasonable and on track is to plan ahead and consider any potential roadblocks that could occur. A few time drains that are often forgotten include:

The time it takes to review and complete the proposal process.

The process of sending out an RFP takes time. Not only does your team have to research relevant industrial design and engineering firms, but you have to wait for their responses and then choose a top candidate. From there, you’ll have to agree on a contract and set a new production timeline for completion of the project. 

Depending on the size of your company, and the workload of the firm you hire, this can take anywhere from 2 weeks for a very small company to as much as 3 months for a large corporation. That’s a big chunk of time that could hurt your end product if it’s not considered when sending out your RFP.

Potential holidays that could cause an obstruction of development.

 Holidays have a tendency to disrupt product development timelines. If your product showcase event is coming up directly after the holidays, or if you’re sending out your RFP just before the holiday season, you may need to pad in a bit of extra time to your RFP timeline. In the first situation, you risk a missed deadline if both teams haven’t considered missed time due to holidays. In the second, you may not get responses to your RFP if everyone’s out of the office.

Your Product Design And Engineering Firm Is Your Partner

In the end, it’s important to remember any product design and engineering studio you choose to develop your product showcase property is a partner. You should consider them not as an employee, but as a collaborator working with you to create the best product showcase property possible. You wouldn’t want to stretch your own team too thin working to create a property on an unrealistic timeline, and you shouldn’t hope to hold a product design partner to that unrealistic timeline either.  

In the end, the best way to ensure you see quality responses from your RFPs is to start by setting a timeline that makes sense for the amount of work you need to be completed by the date of your event.

If you’re considering sending out an RFP for a display property, let us know. Not only do we regularly design and engineer display properties for a variety of industries, but we’d also be happy to help if you’re having trouble determining a timeline for your RFP. Leave us a message letting us know a little bit about your project; we’d love to help!

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Making Time for New Product Development in the New Year

Making Time for New Product Development in the New Year

The new year brings a new schedule — but with everything coming at your development team in 2019, how will your team handle their regular work on top of all the new product development you hope to accomplish? Here are a few ideas on keeping a schedule and making time for new development.

Set Clear, Realistic Priorities for the Year

The first, and best, way to make sure new development actually happens is to make it a priority. One reason new development often gets pushed to the wayside is that it’s considered a “secondary” project that your team can work on when they get their other projects done. When they’re consistently working on other projects, new product development gets pushed to the wayside.

While you certainly can’t throw out all of your team’s existing projects, you can set clear, realistic priorities for the new year, and include new product development as one of those top priorities. By making new development a key priority, you allow your team to put it ahead of some of their other projects, which can help move it along at a reasonable rate.

Create a Schedule, and Be Specific

If new product development is a key priority for your company this year, it’s best to get ahead of it by setting a specific, detailed schedule as soon as you can. Determine what needs to happen and set regular meetings so your team knows when they need to provide updates, and can be held accountable for the progress they make.

The more specific your schedule, the better. This gives your team an opportunity to visualize how you see this new project development coming together, and while you can always adjust the schedule later, having a clear outline for an order of events gives team members a place to start.

Assign Key Tasks to The Right Development Team

Another key hold up for new project development can be how you assign tasks to your development teams. If new project development is assigned to more than one team, it is important to divide the work intuitively between teams that have both the time and the skill set to complete specific aspects of the new product. Depending on how you envision your project, assign key tasks to different teams so it doesn’t feel like the bulk of the work is placed on one team.

Spend Time With Your Team

After you get new product development going, you have to make an effort to keep it moving. Spend dedicated one-on-one time with your team, in person, to facilitate continual progression. While it’s easy to send out an email and wait for a response, it’s more effective, and you’ll often find better answers if you work with, and speak to your team directly.

Regular meetings and an open, honest dialogue can keep new product development moving along quickly. Face-to-face meetings make it easier for your team to tell you what’s not working, and what new direction might be better for your project. Direct collaboration can do a lot to keep your new development project on track.

Hire A Design and Engineering Project Partner To Help Innovate New Products

If your team is struggling to carve out time to develop a new product, they won’t have the time necessary to spend on true ideation. They may be able to hammer out something new, but what are the chances it’ll meet top standards for innovation, creativity, and functionality?

A better, more productive solution may be to hire a design and engineering studio who can dedicate an entire team’s time and resources to innovating your new product.

By partnering with another team, you’ll take pressure off of your own, allowing them to focus specifically on the products you need to keep current business moving swiftly, without losing the new product development you’ve been pushing for in the new year.

A qualified, experienced development partner can help your company optimize new product development in the following ways:

  • Increase productivity
  • Introduce new, innovative ideas
  • Minimize overload on existing employees
  • Offer immediate, specialized expertise.

Oftentimes, a fresh, new perspective and a dedicated team of experts who can make your vision come to life without taking away from your current production efforts are exactly what your team needs.

The beginning of the year is a busy time for everyone. If you’re looking for a solid and proven partner for your 2019 new product development needs, Fredricks Design can help. Whether you need help on just one product or could use a specialized team of innovators for a number of projects, we are dedicated to developing creative product solutions for clients in a variety of industries, and we’d love to help you. Let us know how we can help you facilitate new product development in the new year.

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New Product Development Contractor Vs. Outsourced Development Team

New Product Development Contractor Vs. Outsourced Development Team

In nearly every manufacturing industry, from automotive to entertainment, there comes a time for most companies when they realize they don’t have the manpower they need to complete new development in a timely fashion. Whether you’re working on your next show property, or your team just can’t seem to find that perfect design you’re hoping for, it’s occasionally necessary to bring in outside help for a creativity injection and to take some of the additional workload off your busy team’s hands.

In situations where it makes sense to temporarily bring in a third party, companies have two choices:

  • Hire a contractor. This is usually one person, sometimes a few more, who will come to your facility to work with your team on the project you need completed.
  • Hire a product development firm. When you partner with a product development firm, your company will be assigned a specially selected team of designers and engineers to conceptualize and create the new product you’re looking for.

Depending on the type of work you need accomplished, you may choose one way or the other, but it’s important to first understand the pros and cons of each option, so you can select the out-of-house help that’s most likely to yield the result you need.

Contractor

What they do: When you hire a contractor to help with the creation and development of a new product, you’re essentially hiring a new employee, but without the risk, and on a specific timeline, for a specific purpose. Most contractors work, unsurprisingly, under a contract. That contract states exactly what your company needs from them, and who they need to work with to do it. Typically, that contract will also stipulate a timeline, expressing clearly how long the contractor has to complete the work.

Pros:

  • Contractors often work in your offices, with your existing team.
  • You can hire a contractor with a specific skill set your team may not already have.
  • You have an employee in-house, who you don’t have to pay large overhead fees like health insurance or benefits. You simply pay contractors for their time, which makes them cheaper than hiring a new full-time employee, or sending the project out to a product design firm.
  • You pay a contractor for their time until the job is complete. When the job is done, you both move on.
  • The contractor can handle the special projects that the rest of your team simply doesn’t have time for.

Cons:

  • When you hire a contractor, you only get one person. That means you hire either a designer or an engineer for new product development. With just one contractor, much of the work of feasibility will still fall on the shoulders of your existing team. While a contractor can help alleviate the work burden, your new product development will still put more work on the rest of your in-house team.
  • With a contractor, what you see is what you get. You’ll have an additional person, with a unique skill set coming into your office every day, but they won’t bring additional equipment or technology with them. If they need special programs or machines, your company will have to provide it.

Projects Best Suited to Contractors:

Contractors are best for special projects your team is working on that could use just a bit more manpower. If your team has already come up with concepts and just needs help properly engineering a new product, a contractor may be able to come in and help you out on that one specific piece of the project.

Contractors are best suited for projects that your team already has well in hand but need a bit of additional experience or a unique skill set to get the job done.

Product Development Firm

What they do: A product development firm provides a more wholistic service than a contractor, and they typically function outside of your office. A product development firm can take a concept or a new product development brief, and turn it from a simple sketch on paper into reality. A true partner in your business, a product development firm can work with you to consider concepts, decide on design, and then actually make your innovative new product work, though you may not need them for every step of the way.

Pros:

  • Scalability: When you work with a product development or industrial design firm, you’ll get exactly the number of people you need to create your product on your deadline. A great firm will have both designers and engineers, leveraging both skill sets to create and realize an innovative, functional product unlike anything else on the market.
  • Move extra work off in-house employees: When you shift new product development, even for just one product, over onto an design and engineering firm, you alleviate your workers of a massive workload that may have been crushing their productivity. Without the additional burden, your in-house team is able to perform their jobs efficiently.
  • Added creativity: With a whole new team working on your new concept, you’ll hear ideas and thoughts you’ve never heard before. It’s too easy to fall into standard procedure in-house — bringing in an outside team can help jumpstart innovation.
  • No overhead fees: When you hire a product development firm, that firm already has all of the tools they need to complete your project. You don’t have to shell out for a new machine or rendering software since that’s what the development firm does every single day. They’ll already have the specialized machinery necessary for the job.

Cons:

  • Higher Cost: It should come as no surprise that hiring an entire firm will cost more than hiring one contractor. Outsourcing a project or a new product to a development firm can seem like an expensive upfront cost, but when you consider what you’re getting for your money, the benefits are clear. You’ll have an entire team of specialized professionals dedicated to working on your project, and your project alone. That means you get the innovative solution you’re looking for, on your timeline.

Projects Best Suited to Product Development Firms:

Product development firms are best suited to mid-sized to larger-scale projects. Whether you have a big once-a-year show that you need a stunning show property for, or you’re looking for fresh innovation in some aspect of a new product, product development firms can help you with any aspect of your new concept.

From drawing up bold designs, all the way through feasibility testing and production, an industrial design or product development firm is truly your partner in the innovation process and will work with you every step of the way.

If your company needs help creating, designing, or building a new product, get in touch with Fredricks Design. A full-scale product development firm delivering creative product solutions, we want to know what we can innovate for you.

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