Product and Service Design

The way a product or service is designed affects its appeal for customers; it also affects how easy or expensive operations will be. Design has become a critical aspect of product development for many companies even old line manufacturer of products such as appliances and tools. Today, customers often think how a product looks is just as important as how it works.

However, some product designs are difficult to execute properly. Somebody attempted an unconventional type of ski from steel, skiers began snapping them up delighted with their flexibility and tight grip of the snow. However, producing the skis turned out to be a nightmare and many pairs had to be scrapped or reworked. Expenses mounted and the company failed to meet promised delivery dates. A small design change allowed more generous manufacturing tolerances. After the tooling was adjusted to accommodate the design change, the modified skis were produced and the company that year for the first time made profits.

To prevent such problems in the first place, a growing number of businesses are using design for manufacturing and assembly (DFMA). In the past many engineering designers fashioned products. The watchword today is simplicity; making the product easy and inexpensive to manufacture.

DFMA often requires restructuring operations, creating  teams of designers , manufacturers and assemblers to work together. They collaborate on achieving four objectives of product design.

The degree to which a product or service can actually be produced for the customer within the firm’s  existing operational capacity. The sum of the materials, labour, design, transportation and overhead expenses associated  with a product or service. Striving for simplicity and few parts keeps product and service designs within reasonable costs. The excellence of the product or service,  the serviceability and value that customers gain by purchasing the product.

Reliability is the degree to which customers can count on the product or service to fulfill its intended function. The product  should function as designed for a reasonable length of time. Highly complex products  often have  lower reliability because more things can go wrong.

An Automobile manufacturing company is taking such criteria into account in its new product development process.  Previously the development process was built around five  teams organized by vehicle type. Each team had its own budget and often created its own highly unique body  frames , suspension, brakes, engines and transmissions. Now, teams are based on the vehicle’s basic platform and the goal is to share parts, systems and engineering across all vehicles. Teams have access to information from finance, engineering, purchasing, manufacturing and so on so that car development teams think in terms of cost, required resources and quality as well as design innovation and artistry, avoiding problems down the line.

The design of services should also reflect cost, quality and reliability. However, services have one additional design requirement: timing. Timing is the degree to which  the provision of a service meets the customer’s delivery requirements. Recall that a service cannot be stored in inventory and must be provided when the customer  is present. Banking by machine,  pumping your own gas and trying on your own shoes are all ways  that organizations provide timely service, which is important in today’s time pressured world. Some service firms, including banks medical centres and retailers have worked with cutting edge and taken the help of a design firm to help them design better consumer experiences.


The purchasing of supplies, services and raw materials for use in the production process known as procurement has increased in importance as an operations issue. On an average, a manufacturing  company spends  50 to 60 per cent of its revenues to buy materials and supplies. For example, auto manufacturers spend about 60 per cent of revenues on material purchases, food  processors about 70 per cent and oil refineries about 80 per cent  and the percentage keeps going up. Expenses for materials, supplies and services  also represent a huge expense for service companies. Having the right materials of the correct design quality is essential for the smooth functioning of the production process.

The internet and business to business (B2B) commerce are having a tremendous impact on procurement. Purchasing department employees can now use the internet to search for new sources of materials, place orders, request bids via B2B market places and participate in online auctions. Employees have quick access to more information about availability and cost. They can often submit purchase orders online and track the status of orders over the web, cutting down on operating costs and speeding up the procurement lead time. For example, by eliminating purchase orders and moving procurement online where employees ordered from suppliers that offered the company a discount. Whether one is looking for paper clips, jet engines or consultants, more and more companies are using the Internet to control and streamline the procurement process.

  • Much of this important information comes back to “know your customer.” If you really know the customer, the product or service design has a much better chance of success.