Hidden from view to most travellers on the Design Highway, the productization chasm looms into view just as the pinnacle of Mt. Volume Production seems obtainable. Many a valiant design project has cracked on the rocks below like a gull dropping an oyster.
To cross the productization chasm we need a bridge. And the best way to build a bridge is to start from both sides and work toward the middle.
For design folks, this means thinking about production early on, designing manufacturability in from the get-go, thinking about test and process and quality and yes, the dreaded S word, supply chain. It means being proactive, doing tolerance analysis before assembly problems are flagged, conducting DFMEAs (Design Failure Mode Effects Analysis) early on. It means talking to manufacturing.
For manufacturing folks, it’s actually not just saying, hey design guys you have to follow our rules. It’s about understanding the nature of the design process understanding that first prototypes are meant to be tested, broken, and redesigned (see We design, we test, we break things). It means taking he time to understand the product functionality and also its market positioning. Productizing a million-piece-a-month consumer product is vastly different from productizing the transmission of a pickup truck. And it means talking to design.
For both sides understanding and often times compromise are needed.
As for us, well, all too often we get called in after the bridge fails or when no one even considers the need for a bridge. Good for business maybe but we’d far prefer to be involved early on, helping both sides bridge the chasm.