A product that has the potential to break through the clutter of existing ones in the segment and make its place in the consumer market, is reached through a highly elaborate and deliberate process -- the Engineering Design Process.
An exceedingly iterative process, EDP involves a stream of steps that combine scientific knowledge and technical problem-solving. It covers the entire journey of product development from what we call a scratch to a final working design that can be sent for production.
Although its terminologies and representations vary according to varied articulations, the crux of the process revolves around idea synthesis, research, and analysis, repetitive testing, designing, improvisations, feedback incorporation, in a productive cycle that finally results in satisfactory integrated product design.
Engineering Design Process: Significance And Optimization
As mentioned above, the engineering design process consists of a comprehensive series of the seven-step procedure employed by engineers to design functional and optimal product blueprints. The process is frequentative in nature; meaning one has to go through the steps repetitively, over and over again, until an unmitigated solution is reached.
To gain a greater understanding of the process and its role in achieving the desired product, let’s break them up and study independently;
1. Defining the Problem
The precondition to solving a problem is always to first define it. The first step, therefore, involves seeking answers to concrete questions that create an outline of the problem at hand.
Defining a problem statement for the product before starting the project will help you meet exactly the needs of the market through that product. It will facilitate the entire process by helping you understand exactly where to start from as well as prepare and predict obstacles that you can encounter.
2. Research, Reference, And Feasibility Analysis
After defining the problem, the next step is to do sound background research on the basis of resources available online or offline. This step involves getting your literature and research in place, studying similar references, and employing other inferencing techniques. Reliable sources such as published research papers, reports, government documents, records of experiments carried out previously, trade journals can prove to be extremely value-adding and can inspire you to come up with pathbreaking solutions.
Investigating and analyzing on the basis of the research material will assist one in apprehending different aspects of product development such as cost considerations, the feasibility of application of reverse engineering, identifying a niche, evaluating existing solutions, and networking with experts from relevant fields. This is also the best time to run feasibility checks in terms of availability of hardware components and software compatibility, integration, and sophistication.
The resulting product achieved at the end of the process then can be expected to have an impeccably desired outcome.
3. Specifying Design Requirements
Establishing specific requirements of the product with regards to its features, functions, prerequisites, determined after conducting extensive researches and surveys to identify the needs of specific users. It’s when you put the research conducted in the previous step into practice and modify the design to match both; product requirements and production feasibility.
Specifying design requirements, however, goes beyond the scope of product designing. It encompasses designing and careful strategizing of every step of the production process right from testability to marketability. This step is like creating a blueprint for the product’s success.
4. Conceptualizing, Evaluating and Elimination
This phase of the EDP is all about visualization, strategizing, and brainstorming from the viewpoint of the considerations as established in Step 3. It consists of three primary objectives namely -- conceptualization, evaluation, and elimination of incompetent concepts.
Conceptualization is the process of collating all the ideas, strategies, plans, propositions and visualizing the possible outcomes. This process transcends into evaluation when, along with the outcomes, possible risks, errors, losses, and failures are considered and further detailed assessment is made. Finally, the results of the above two processes instrumentalize the easy elimination of concepts and ideas that do not produce holistic, profitable solutions, and selection of the most plausible ones.
Developing a sound system of evaluating the plans on the basis of applied mathematics and engineering science with the help of a team of experts minimizes the chances of the failure of the product at the testing stage by a considerable percentage.
5. Developing Prototypes and Blueprints
It may happen at times that a solution that looks consummate from all parameters may fail to give the desired results at later stages. Prototyping is the solution to saving large-scale production resources and costs. It’s similar to a simulation of the finalized design that is developed using materials and processes similar to the actual product; except it’s cheaper and unpolished.
Developing a working prototype that filters through all the theoretical checks, allows a practical assessment of viabilities beforehand. It also helps to find significant gaps and deviations possible from the finalized design, as well as rooms for improvement, enhancement, and optimization of the final design of the final product.
6. Prototype Testing And Design Improvisation
The testing phase requires revisiting the first three steps of the designing process which include defining the problem and the end-users who will benefit the most from the final product. Running trials on actual subjects or volunteers and recording, analyzing, and implementing their feedbacks in order to make modifications to the designs, if any, lies at the core of the testing phase.
Repeating the trials and tests until the desired result is achieved will helps to streamline the product design and also to do away with any shortcomings identified during those examinations.
7. Communicating Reports
The last stage of designing involves documenting all the variables, hypotheses, workings, findings, grading, testing, data analytic records, procedures followed, and conclusions reached in order to communicate the final results in a summarized report.
Archiving final product designs ensures seamless transition through the pre and post- production planning process and keeps you covered in case of any.
Mastering the Engineering Design Process is fundamental to obtaining a successful end product. It is an indispensable underlying solution to success as long as its character is maintained -- iteration. The process is meant to produce surpassing results only if it is exhaustive enough to eliminate all cons and capitalize on pros.
If that is ensured, you can be reassured of achieving your desired product.
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