The prototype is all done and it seems to work well. Now, how do you get the prototype manufactured reliably and at a reasonable cost? If you’re like a lot of small companies, this is not something you do all the time. Finish Line has done more than one thousand projects for more than 300 small companies and we have learned a few things in the process.
1) Do a Design Verification Test (DVT). Just turning your prototype on and seeing the lights flash is not good enough. Each requirement (you did complete a requirements document, didn’t you?) should be verified through a test, inspection, or analysis. You should use an engineering team that did NOT do the design to do the DVT because “group think” often blinds the team from looking in the right places.
2) Make sure your documentation is in order. Manufacturing can/should only do what is documented—so called “drawing compliance.” If it is important, it should be written down. Don’t expect your CM to design the product for you. If you’re in doubt about your documentation, call us and we will be happy to review it for you.
3) Do some field testing. Show it to customers, let them use it to run it through its paces in an as real world environment as possible. We are always amazed at the learning that comes from early field trials, and the earlier this happens, the sooner these issues can be resolved
4) Choose the right CM. There are lots of great CMs out there, but that does not mean they would be great for this product. Do your due diligence and understand what makes a good partner for you. This will be a long-term relationship that each side will have to make an investment in.
5) Do not ignore red flags. Any failure, issue, oddity, etc., should be fully vetted in the early stage of product launch. Find the root cause of failure and implement corrective action before you go any further.
A working prototype is a great first step, but it takes careful planning and a lot of work before your prototype turns into a product that can be manufactured successfully.
BTW, if you find yourselves being pulled into the next project before you have time to finish this one, give us a call—we can help.
Steve Owens – CTO A Better Way for Small Companies to Develop Products
Ph: 603 880 8484
94 River Rd | Hudson, NH | 03051 Click for Product Development White Papers