The shortening of development times is the number one issue in the R&D departments of the German engineering industry. The potential for doing so is enormous: project analyses by Staufen AG show that the time from product idea to market launch can be cut in half.
The R&D departments of engineering companies are increasingly subjecting meth-ods of working and processes to scrutiny. This is because they are being forced to respond more flexibly to customers’ wishes and to adapt more quickly to local mar-kets. No longer developing everything from scratch but instead using well-proven modules is the new motto in this process. Recipes for success can, for instance, be found at Toyota: today about three quarters of any new car developed by the Japa-nese company already consists of tried and tested components from current production which have been used for years in a whole variety of different models. If they follow this example, engineering companies have already reached an important milestone on the road to halving their development times – according to the experts’ calculations. “Small and medium-sized engineering companies have also recognised that modular product structures are crucial to future economic success, just as platform strategies are,” says Dr. Andreas Romberg, Senior Partner at Staufen AG consultancy. “That is why modularisation strategies are among the key subjects being looked at in R&D departments.” For designers this means ensuring that they are not continually reinventing the wheel in their development work. Products should be modularly structured right from the outset. This enables companies to respond more quickly to special customer demands while at the same time achieving economies of scale. “Up to now development work by engineers in medium-sized German companies in particular has been too reliant on gut instinct, and too uncoordinated. There is a lack of systematic direction in taking the idea forward to product launch,” says R&D expert Romberg. Two thirds of new developments therefore end up being completed later than planned. What is more, there are incorrect results which lead to budget overruns. Only six out of every 100 “official product ideas” end up being turned into successful products. The Best Practice Day in Darmstadt on 4 and 5 June 2013 will be a platform for leading experts in lean management to present the current state of research and to enter into a dialogue regarding its practical implications. For more information about the event, please visit: http://www.best-practice-day.com