So what is design and why do we need it?
The world of design is all around us. It is a way of solving complex problems to come up with a solution. The solution may be a way to satisfy a customers want or need through being dissatisfied with the current solution or maybe there isn’t a current solution available. So how does the designer know what the problem is? First the need has to be identified, this will give them an indication of what they need to do to make the current problem better. Next research will need to be done to ensure that they have the most effective way of solving this problem. This will then lead to the designer coming up with a range of different concepts which would now fit the brief. These concepts can then be analysed to ensure that the most effective concept is carried forward. The design is then discussed to ensure it is capable of embodiment and the manufacturing process is laid out. This is vital as it will need to be suitable to be sent for manufacturing. Once manufactured the product can then be available for the customer. This process is the product life cycle. However not all problems are easily solved, some involve a large amount of trial and error. For example, the Sinclair C5. This product was designed to provide a successful electric vehicle to the market. Sir Clive Sinclair did produce this however there were some major design faults that came with this new electric vehicle. One being that the driver was so close to the ground, this flagged up so fatal health and safety issues. The first was that due to the vehicle being so low, other drivers on the road in larger vehicles were highly unlikely to see the user on the Sinclair C5. This would therefore mean driving the vehicle would be extremely dangerous. That’s before you take into account that all the fumes from other larger vehicles would just blast into the users face. This product only managed to last on the market for a disappointing 9 months.
Another big factor within the design process is concurrent engineering. This method enables the company to work simultaneously to develop a new product. This is achieved by engaging in multiple aspects of development concurrently. By achieving this the amount of time involved in getting the new product only the market is significantly decreased. One way of checking that the input from the user is correct is by putting the data through a DFA machine. This is often implemented in hardware or software to solve various problems. For example, checking the users input is valid. This will help speed the process up due to cutting possible faulty product. Concurrent engineering is a long-term business strategy, with long term benefits to business. Although it can be challenging to implement, the competitive advantage means that it is beneficial in the long term. It removes the need to have multiple design reworks, by creating an environment for designing the product first time round. So why would you adopt the concurrent engineering methods? These methods give the business competitive advantage due to reducing the time to market therefore will give that business an edge over their competitors. Another is enhancing the business’ productivity. Discovering early design problems means potential issues can be corrected soon, rather than at a later stage for example in the development process. Also, by doing this, this will decrease the design and development time. Therefore, making the product meet their customers needs in less time and at a reduced cost. There are a range of solutions available to support the introduction of a concurrent engineering strategy.
Also, value engineering plays a big part within the design process. Value engineering is a methodology where we try to find substitutes for a product or operation. The concept of value engineering originated during the second world war. This methodology has gained a huge popularity due to having the potential for gaining high returns on investment. This methodology is used in a vast range of businesses. From engineering, transportation and industrial equipment to health care. This process requires a deep study of the product and its purpose such as the raw materials it uses and the equipment needed. It also queries whether it is being used to its most appropriate and economical. By simplifying the processes, it requires this will reduce the manufacturing costs. At every stage of the manufacturing and delivery process there is an opportunity to find alternatives which will reduce costs in terms of material, process and time but also increase the functionality of the product. The different aspects of value engineering can be summarised into a sequence of steps known as a job plan. Value engineering in businesses helps to identify:
• The problem or situation that needs to be changed/improved
• All that is good about the existing situation
• The improvements required in the situation
• The functions to be performed
• The ways of performing each function
• The best ways among the selected functions
• The steps to be followed to implement the function
• The person who executes the function
It should be remembered that we are not seeking a cost reduction sacrificing quality. It has been found that there will be an improvement in quality when systematic value analysis principles are employed. Many vehicle manufacturers have active programs to reduce the number and types of fasteners in their product. This will therefore reduce inventory, tooling and assembly costs. Value engineering is also often used in premium forming processes. This is due to it being capable of eliminating hundreds of loe precision machining or drilling steps. Precision transfer stamping can quickly produce hundreds of high quality parts.
Another design methology is intellectual property protection. This enables you (the designer) to stop people from stealing or copying your work. This includes a range of different things such as:
• “the names of your products or brands
• your inventions
• the design or look of your products
• things you write, make or produce” 1
Therefore, my having a copyright, patent or trade mark gives you intellectual property protection. You can get some of these protections automatically however this is not the case for all of them and some need to be applied for.
Type of protection Example Automatic/Applied How long is the protection?
Copyright Art, photography, films, TV, writing and literary works, music, web content, sound recordings Automatic 70 years
Design right Shapes of objects Automatic 10 years
Trade marks Product names, logos, jingles Applied 14 years
Registered designs Appearance of a product including, shape, packaging, patterns, colours, decoration Applied 15 years
Patents Inventions and products, eg machines and machine parts, tools, medicines Applied 15 years
The protections however can have a number of owners and be sold or transferred. This therefore makes it easy to be protected fully.
Many benefits are gained from these intellectual property protections. The first is a benefit to the designer that they know they are legally protected from someone else stealing or copying their idea or product this means that if someone was to copy their idea the person/company whose idea it was originally would be able to sue the other person/business. This would therefore enhance the market value of the business. This will also enhance export opportunities due other companies not being able to produce the same product. This could therefore mean that you could you can use brands and designs to market goods and services abroad, seek franchising agreements with overseas companies, or export your patented products.
• Another methodology in design is Legal and Safety standards. “A standard is an agreed way of doing something. It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials.”2 This includes BSI, CE and the Kitemark. Firstly BSI, The British Standards Institution (BSI) is a service organization that produces standards across a wide variety of industry sectors. Its areas of practice and specifications cover management and technical subjects ranging from business continuity management to quality requirements. The BSI assists organisations wishing to achieve the European CE mark certification. There are a large amount of benefits of using standards, this includes improving the company’s performance, by following standards these promote a culture of continual improvement. Reducing risk, by using the standards this can help the company identify risks and minimize them. Also becoming more sustainable, by helping you to look closely at how much energy and resources you are using this can help save money, improve your reputation whilst also benefiting the environment. Next is CE marking, is a “declaration from the manufacturer that a product complies with the essential requirements of the relevant European health, safety and environmental protection legislation”3 The CE marking on a product also indicates to government officials that the product can legally be placed on the market within their company.Not all products must have the CE marking. Only those that fall under specific categories are required to provide a CE mark. There are a large amount of different products that fall under these categories. Some of this includes toys, machinery, household refrigerators and freezers and lifts. ” The CE marking is a kind of trade passport for the European marketplace: it allows the manufacturer to freely circulate their product throughout the 30 countries of the European Economic Area (EEA).” Therefore, this is a huge benefit to the company. Also due to the requirement change there are now only one set of requirements and procedures to comply with in designing and manufacturing a product for the entire EEA, this therefore makes it easy to ensure that your product complied with all the requirements in the whole European Economic Area.