Utilizing a New Product Manufacturing Checklist for a Smoother Production Cycle
Standing on the precipice of success, with volumes of market research and design intel but with no concrete steps for turning ideas into reality, is a common experience for startups. However, new product manufacturing does not need to be a mystery, nor must you solve a riddle to decode the process. Simply walking up to a manufacturing company and handing them a CAD design is not going to be enough, but there are several solid steps that, when followed, can lead to successful production cycles.
✔ Create a Product Requirement Document
Every product, even in its earliest stages of design, goes through the design process with attached expectations. In addition to the fundamental expectations of what the product does, and who to market it to, other intangibles associated with your product must be communicated in great detail to all of your product stakeholders. Some of these details should include:
- The overall look and feel of the product, including tactile feel, color schemes, or user interfaces.
- In-depth marketing plan, including data around targeted industries, consumers, and any associated demographics.
- Durability in the finished product and of the materials being used in production.
This gives your manufacturing partner—as well as investors and project stakeholders—a concise list of objectives that need to be accomplished. Also, the product requirement document will give you an easy way to sort through potential manufacturing partners by allowing you to quickly eliminate those that do not align with what you are striving to achieve.
✔ Develop Component and Bill of Materials Specifications
Many will recommend that you separate these into two specific categories. However, they are very closely related, and since the design and specifications of your components will be directly tied to the bill of materials, it makes logical sense to pair these two together. The bill of materials will be a comprehensive list of the components in your product, while component specifications dive in a little deeper to help others grasp the intricacies behind items that require a finer degree of attention.
The specifications in a bill of materials are essentially an inventory of the parts contained within your product. This will help to determine the overall manufacturing cost, as well as potential material and assembly efforts, helping you to better establish certain goals. Retail costs will be directly related to the cost and assembly of the items in your bill of materials. The costs of the parts and the efforts to assemble the product should not exceed 25% of your projected retail price point.
Component specifications will utilize the same information with the bill of materials, but with a deeper attached analysis. Having the ability to communicate concise component specifications is especially important when a product contains parts or sections that are highly reliant on staying within a tolerance range. An engine is a prime example of an area that would require component specifications, and can also include items such as heat or pressure tolerances on parts or modules.
✔ Perfect the Prototype
Breathing life into a product idea will help you to prove out, or enhance, the first two items on this checklist. This makes building a prototype a good next step. But prototyping an idea is not as easy as it sounds, especially when you consider the different available options:
- Digital, or a virtualized, version of the product.
- A more rudimentary representation that demonstrates only one or two key features.
- An in-depth, working replica of the final product, including all available features and aesthetics.
Each of these prototype options has its own unique place in the manufacturing world, and each introduces even more questions that need to be answered. Regardless of the prototype that best fits your product, a rapid prototyping strategy is a perfect choice for smoothing a production cycle. This strategy opens you up to cutting-edge manufacturing prototyping options that will be valuable tools in streamlining the manufacturing processes for your new product.
✔ Defined Manufacturing Processes
By this point, you should have a precise list of product requirements, an accurate breakdown of material and production costs, and a working prototype. You may think that you are ready to go. But there is still one last step that needs to be accomplished before you send your design to a small-scale manufacturing partner. Your project team still needs to put all of the production pieces together to create one, flawless, manufacturing runbook.
Accomplishing this involves you working with your partner and their team to create a step-by-step list of manufacturing processes that will be repeated for each item produced. By outlining these processes beforehand, you and your manufacturing partner establish important quality and performance checkpoints that are routinely monitored and unedited. Having this defined plan in place allows all parties to make proactive changes where necessary, and before any impact is seen by the customer.
✔ Remove the Guesswork from New Product Manufacturing
No matter how in-depth a checklist is, there will still be issues that pop up out of nowhere that will require close attention and manufacturing expertise to solve. Selecting a manufacturing partner that can offer valuable guidance in all project areas, from concept to its first production run, is a valuable asset that warrants consideration. They not only will get you to the finish line but will work with you to keep the production of your vision running smoothly.