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Detail Design: Product Development Outsourcing Considerations, Design Standards, Research and Investigation

Essentials Product Development for Engineers


Product Development Outsourcing Considerations


Outsourcing parts of the design development process may be an option. Examples include analysis, calculations, simulations, testing, research, as well as elements of 2D and 3D CAD design engineering, depending on your internal knowledge and capacity. You may want to carefully consider control of data and technical documentation. Do you need to think about intellectual property to ensure you retain exclusive rights to anything valuable you create? Additionally, how do you propose to manage the flow of information in and out of your organisation?



Outsourcing to other suppliers who specialise in particular manufacturing processes, is an option design engineers may select for parts or assemblies. Establishing the quality and service credentials of such a supplier is critical. Supplier visits are encouraged, as are case studies and examples. Test the market with quotations for the same part or assembly. Also understand the logistics. Do they deliver and if so, how quickly?

At the design stage it is also worth establishing how technical information would get to the supplier. 2D drawings or 3D data? Email or fax? What lead times can you expect? Are there local companies who can fulfil your requirements at a competitive price? Alternatively, do you need to look further afield for suppliers; if so are they reliable? You may wish to evaluate a number of suppliers against a range of key criteria like those mentioned above.



Design Standards

Detailed design of any product is likely to have to conform to certain standards. Design engineers should have access to standards, as these will set the parameters to which they will design. Alongside standards, there may be procedures, protocols, legislation, directives and rules, which govern what is and isn’t permissible; or at least provide guidelines to assist development tasks.

Businesses may have their own local standards. Almost certainly there will be industry standards that apply to your sector. Find out which ones are relevant and understand how they apply to products in your field.

Do your competitors’ list standards their products conform to? Which national and international standards and directives also commonly apply? Importantly, complying with certain standards is often a pre-requisite to selling your products on to larger manufacturers, as part of their supply chain. In addition, the same applies with the supply of any product to the public.


Engineering Standards Explained 



Research and Investigation

The Detailed Design phase will typically involve some element of research. Design Engineers will investigate aspects of the design for a greater understanding, prior to recommending a solution. Research sources are numerous and include:

  • Online sources
  • Other engineers, technicians and experts
  • Literature and published information
  • Supplier visits
  • Research organisations including test houses, academia and engineering institutions
  • Conferences and seminars
  • Technical libraries

In addition, the level of investigation will vary depending on your initial level of understanding and how much knowledge you require to progress. Testing, modelling and verifying ideas and solutions will involve research. As will investigating technologies, systems and bought-in (turnkey) solutions to the technical problem you are trying to solve.

Start by being clear about what your objectives are. What do you need to know and why? How will the information assist your product development activities? Who needs to know? What is the scope of your research activity and when do you need answers by?

Product Development Outsourcing


Next... Physical Prototyping and Working with your Hands


Back to Essential Product Development 


When was the last time your business developed a NEW product? ...Or is 'Product Development' too far removed from your core Production Engineering activities?

Does your firm have a clear product development process, with a number of new products released to date? ...Or alternatively, do you think bread and butter production engineering is really what matters? Tell us about your product development experiences...

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