Product is the last “P” in the three Ps of manufacturing. It is not the hardest to improve, but it could have the biggest impact on your bottom line. Why? Because improving your product for ease of use or availability is almost guaranteed to make it more appealing to a wider variety of people. So, let’s take a moment to look at how we can improve your product.
Before you begin to improve your product, though, make sure you’ve taken the time to look at the processes that make that product and the people who help bring it to life. Without these components in place, changes you make to your product could be slowed down or even compromised.
Choose Your Area of Improvement
There are four main areas in which you can improve your product: design, quality, safety, and availability. Product availability is more a child of process and people improvement than product improvement, so we won’t cover it here.
The Design is in the Details
You can improve your product design in four ways: reverse engineering, value engineering, simulation driven design, and rapid prototyping. By using reverse engineering, you can uncover flaws in the product design by studying the intent in reverse order. You can then begin to fix those flaws. Use value engineering to determine the cost vs. the function of the design. You can either improve the function or reduce the cost to produce the product. Simulation driven design gives you the ability to predict the performance of the product before you make a physical prototype. Rapid prototyping allows you to quickly develop a sample product for testing before you spend the money to mass produce.
Improving Product Quality Starts with Good Information
Improving product quality starts with improving the speed and accuracy of the information pipeline around that product. For instance, just switching your quality control documents from paper-based to computer-based will aid in the speed of the information available. It also involves extensive testing in real-world scenarios before you go to market. If you focus on these two things, the quality of your product will outstrip what it was before.
Quality Control and Testing Will Improve Product Safety
Improving product safety is a big one. Some of the information that you gather for product quality has a direct impact on product safety. However, it’s not the only way to improve safety. Extensive testing in real-world scenarios is also key to improving your product safety. Make sure to utilize multiple rounds of testing to catch any anomalies. Also, employ regulary factory floor inspections, and quality control checks. You should also always put product safety above cutting costs. In the long run, you’ll save a lot more money than you would spend fighting or paying out for a damage claim.