4 Ways Lean Product Development Can Optimize Design

Muthukumaran Kanniappan February 12, 2015

Lean_Product_DevelopmentLean product development, is a product cost optimization (PCO) practice intended to minimize time-to-market and open new opportunities for cost efficiency during early design stages. The very way you optimize design and prepare your products for mass development can be modified for greater production efficiency, and the profitability gains that come with it.

In this article, we look into four ways your company can implement lean product development during early design to greatly limit overall product costs later on.

1) Simplified Design and Development Between Engineers

During the early design stages of manufacturing, companies typically undervalue the influence certain PCO strategies, such as lean development, can have on bottom line cost. Inefficient manufacturing and part use, often the result of poor communication between multiple engineering teams (as well as the technologies they use), can be largely dealt with through lean development practices.

Lean design, engineering and development is ideal for companies that have their product values directly influenced by high overhead and labor costs. In these cases, implementing any of the following lean practices can help you lower product cost during the design stage of manufacturing, and give your products the market edge they need to sustain profits:

  • Modular design
  • Cross-product-line synergy
  • Utilization of shared capital equipment
  • Platform design strategies
  • Potential for parts standardization or value engineering
  • Matching product tolerances to process capabilities

Simplifying the way your company designs new products and uses resources to create those products has a ripple effect on overall product cost; it sets the stage for efficiency throughout your entire supply chain, from design to engineering and development.

2) Improved Design Continuity for Faster Time-to-Market

The biggest advantage that implementing lean product development provides is in the way it simplifies tasks at various manufacturing stages. “Lean” development is just that: a leaner, more simplified approach to product design, which has positive implications on cost and product profitability.

It’s estimated that as much as 70% of total product cost can be influenced during early design stages. Lean development is, in this sense, the practice of controlling product cost before products even reach the factory floor.

3) Leaner Products for a Leaner Design Process

As essential components within manufacturing, the parts and equipment used in creating products should also be configured around key “lean” objectives. Consider how efficiently you transport parts and products throughout your supply chain, or the automated systems you feature to maintain high volume product lines.

Is there any potential for PCO by reducing the amount of parts used? Can certain tasks, parts or equipment be standardized? Also consider your current labor and non-recurring design costs, as these are elements of cost your company can strongly address through implementation of lean practices.

When designing your products, evaluating each of the following can help you identify ideal lean practices for reducing overall product cost, and expanding your current profitability:

  • Common parts between product lines
  • Common raw materials
  • Potential for part count reduction
  • Design simplification
  • Prevalence of quality defects
  • Scrap materials during design
  • Batch processes

4) Long-term Waste Reduction During Manufacturing

Additionally, lean product development helps manufacturers in bustling industries sustain market share by largely reducing waste. Lean development, when implemented during early design and development, helps businesses eliminate wasteful processes throughout the supply chain. This includes waste due to:

  • Product defect risks
  • Over-production
  • Waiting
  • Non-utilized resources
  • Product and part transportation
  • Inventory tasks
  • Product motion
  • Excess processing

Lean development practices, implemented from early product design to eventual development, can be decisive in the profitability of your products. Lean development significantly reduces the amount of time it takes manufacturers to develop and introduce new product lines, which provides key market advantages your company could be using to sustain revenues against competition.

The simplification to design that lean development brings can be instrumental in the time-to-market of your products. Lean practices can help your company take advantage of lost opportunities in:

  • Revenue and product profitability
  • Market share
  • Potential for premium charges as a market leader
  • Lowered per part product cost

In today’s highly competitive marketplaces, growing manufacturing companies need every advantage they can get to maintain strategic edge over competitors. Lean product development makes it not only possible, but entirely feasible, to increase the profitability and time-to-market of your products.


Topics Business Transformation Time to Market Product Cost Optimization Product Development Solutions Lean Manufacturing