Design and costs


The lab is the place where cost control starts. If our design itself is cost conscious, the assembly becomes cheaper. Like quality, costs are built into design. Almost 70% of the eventual cost of a product is decided at the design stage itself.

To begin with, the development process can be geared to meet only the customer needs, and little else. All frills can be eliminated. The cost consciousness of the design should be carried to procurement and manufacturing operations by using low-cost components and production methods. Lastly, the product must be off the drawing board quickly, and should be produced in such a way that it does not need to return to the lab. Designing should be accelerated to cut the development costs. However, there is a trade-off sometimes when development process is speeded up, product performance could suffer and vice versa. The factory should turn out a product that performs what it promises, within the cost parameters set and must reach the market before competition does.

In the market, it must make money. Success lies in how a company transits from the chaos of the invention to the daily discipline of the production department. It should be remembered that 80% of costs are committed at the design stage. Even when the market wants a product with enhanced features, it does not ignore product-price equation you give and that which your competition gives.

Computers and design

Currently computers aid the designing process. The state-of-the art CAD software has reduced the time to finalize a product’s design. The software has 3-D capability. CAD has moved into rapid prototyping too. Real prototyping is time consuming and expensive. BHEL builds parts with components tested by computers. A turbine’s butter-fly valve, tailor-made for each turbine, is tested by simulating the environment in which the valve will function, and by permutations and combinations of the design parameters under different conditions. Another model tests the valve in its interface with other components of the turbine. Thus prior to manufacturing, the product is tested under different conditions. The product development then including manufacturing is completed n four months. Computer software enables product design flexibility. Many companies use optimization technique, stimulating operating conditions, through a large number of input variables such as weight, performance, aesthetics, price, reliability, noise levels, maintainability, delivery, logistics, tooling and machinery. The modeling responses are recorded for different product designs. After several alterations, using different mix of inputs, the best least-cost design can be chosen.

Spectra Scooters of TVS-Suzuki

It is very essential to assess the exact customer wants and needs it forms the foundation of the brief the marketing department presents to the design department. But the designers have their own logic. Spectra is a 150 cc scooter of TVS with 4-stroke engine. Custom habits were studied and drivers were filmed. It is necessary to match the product features with customer needs.

Whenever customers demand a lower cost for the product, the company can take the product back to the drawing board and re-design the product by employing value engineering.