I will present a report addressing the project in terms of the Innovation Cycle for product development. This shall cover the definition and evaluation of the products, their form, market and manufacture in terms of the Product Innovation Major Steps, which include:
Needs: What needs should the product fill?
Ideas: What different products could satisfy these needs?
Selection: What ideas are the most promising?
Manufacture: How can we make the product in commercial quantities?
Product Innovation involves the introduction of a new good or service that is new or substantially improved from previous versions. Innovation is not just about new products, it is a whole new approach to business.
The novel synthetic fibre that I will analyse is Nylon with main uses in clothing and footwear.
Nylon is a commodity chemical as it is produced in high volumes and yields low profits and so it has a low added value. There is no large scale need for chemists and engineers in commodity chemicals.
What needs should the product fill?
The product should fill the customer's needs and to find the needs of the customer, we need to do market research and ask the customers directly what they require through questionnaires or interviews. This is known as primary research as answers are directly answered to the companies needs.
Once loads of information has been collected, the customers needs have to be interpreted and taken into consideration. This information can then be used into product specifications and therefore products are produced depending on customer needs.
For example, customer needs for the manufacture of Nylon to produce leisure clothing.
o Light weight
o Wear resistance
o Long lasting
o Easy to wash
o Easy to iron
Specifying a benchmark would be one of the final stages in the needs. The new developed product must meet up to standards with either existing products or an idealised product. If this is not the case then and the benchmark cannot be achieved or surpassed, then it is not worth developing the product.
What different products could satisfy these needs?
The next step in the innovation cycle is to generate ideas. Most of the source of ideas comes from the:
> Development team. These people research into the product into great detail and most of the ideas are generated by the developing team.
> Customers. Questionnaires and interviews are analysed and a different view of ideas are produced. The interviews and questionnaires can be very important as the customers will be the ones who buy the products at the end and they may also be using similar or existing products. Although questionnaires can sometimes be unreliable if not enough data is collected.
> Competitors. Useful data can be obtained if you as a company are selling similar products.
> Consultants. These are often not as useful as customers or the development team.
> Literature. This will have a large range of views and if researched into properly, books, patents and trade information will produce some excellent ideas.
Product development teams generate ideas by brainstorming which is a group exercise and mind mapping which is usually done individually.
In developing a product, it requires up to one hundred ideas to find an idea which is really worth going for.
To reduce the amount of ideas we have to only the good ideas we have to organise ideas into specific categories which may require more brainstorming. The more ideas are organised, the more we would be able to realise if they are strengths or weaknesses in organisations.
What ideas are the most promising?
From all the ideas we have generated, we only take very few good ideas to take forwards for production. To select these few good ideas to take forward we need a Screening Criteria which would select the best ideas. This selection process now would require scientific and engineering judgement. These are:
o Safety - Make sure that the product (nylon) would be safe to produce and wear.
o Low environmental impact - Make sure that nylon produced clothes and any by-products are not dangerous to the environment
o Low cost - Make sure that the method of producing nylon is the cheapest with the highest return for money
o Minimum risk - Make the manufacture of nylon economically feasible
o Engineering ease - Make the manufacture of nylon technically feasible
After the screening process and choosing the best ideas, we now need to do a risk assessment. This will identify and catalogue all risks of producing the product (nylon). Eliminating the risk will be the most important thing and then we can compare quantitatively the terms of the cost and time.
Risk management also need to be put in place as to reduce risks or possible risks before proceeding, or accepting the risk and proceeding. This decision is based entirely upon management and the best option will be chosen for the organisation at that time.
How can we make the product in commercial quantities?
At this stage we are now ready to decide how to produce the product. We have the chemical product we need to manufacture; we have identified customer needs and generated enough ideas to fill this need.
When considering the manufacturing process we need to take into account:
o Raw materials
o Demand for supply
o Time taken for product to reach the market
o Size of plant
o Operating and capital costs of plant
After the manufacturing costs of the product (nylon clothes), we need to consider the packaging. This should be:
o Waterproof to prevent water ruining the nylon
After the packaging, we can finally sell the product. To get the product out onto the market we could:
o Advertise in clothes shops
o Advertise on TV
After advertising, the product would have reached out to a far reaching population.