Designing for profit
Good product design is key to the processes of innovation and continuous improvement and therefore at the very heart of a business' profitability.
Smart design gives you a competitive edge, keeps you in touch with the marketplace, and helps you to maximise your profitability.
Poor design may narrow your margins, cause you to lose touch with the marketplace, and ruin your competitive edge.
There are two important principles of smart design:
- Meet the needs of the marketplace
- Meet the needs of the production process
Design for the market or market the design?
It is unfortunately all too common for designers to work in isolation, creating products that may be innovative, ingenious, and even practical, but which do not meet clearly identified needs in the marketplace.
The result is that extra energy has to be put into marketing the design - and in some cases actually creating a market for it. Valuable funds that could be used in future product development are used up trying to generate sales of a product that is not necessarily what the marketplace wants.
Smart marketing involves carefully identifying what the end user wants and creating a product that meets that need. It means creating products people want, rather than trying to persuade people to want products you have created.
Marketing is not a short-term activity designed to boost sales, but a long-term investment designed to increase market share by bringing the right products to market at the right time.
It is essential, therefore, that the design process is market driven, with the designer focused on creating products that marketing identifies the customer wants.
Optimise design for production
It is not uncommon for the production of a new product to be held up at the last minute for a design modification. Not only are such delays costly and a considerable drain on profitability, they are also an indication of lack of co-ordination between design and production.
The design of a product affects the costs of among other things:
- Plant & equipment
It is important that from the outset the design process takes production and post-production resources into account and that the design is optimised for production purposes - keeping costs down and production speed up.
As early as possible in the design stage it is helpful to bring together the design and production teams to draw up design specifications that are optimised in terms of production resources, costs, and so on.
The earlier production engineers are able to begin preparatory work the better. This will help to reduce the time from origination to production and thus improve all round profitability.