State of Design: The Canadian Report 2010
Table of Contents
- PD&D Drivers
- PD&D Investment
- Intellectual Property Rights
- PD&D Service Industry
- Employment and Skills
- PD&D Innovation
- Final Remarks
- Annex 1: Tables
Product Design and Development (PD&D) Innovation
Canadian firms are changing the way they conduct PD&D to better respond to the challenges of product innovation; as a result, firms are improving their business performance. Innovation in the PD&D process is captured in two ways: the adoption of advanced PD&D technologies, and the use of new PD&D processes. For the purpose of this report, advanced PD&D technologies include virtual product development and rapid prototyping, and PD&D processes include concurrent design/engineering, cross–functional design teams, and e–based design/engineering processes.
- Virtual product development (VPD) refers to the use of simulation software or services throughout the PD&D process.
- Rapid prototyping refers to the use of additive fabrication technologies that facilitate the construction of a 3D model of a physical object directly from a computer–aided design (CAD) file in a relatively short amount of time compared to traditional prototyping methods.
- Concurrent design/engineering refers to design and engineering activities conducted simultaneously — rather than sequentially — with design work and other developmental processes.
- Cross–functional design teams are defined as groups that include people from all relevant functional areas responsible for PD&D, with customized teams often assembled on a per–project basis.
- E–based (online) design/engineering consists primarily of a service derived from an e–sourcing–based solution. Items can include electronic forms and custom programs. This involves the use of electronic techniques to carry out business transactions, including electronic mail or messaging, internet technology, electronic bulletin boards, purchase cards, electronic funds transfers and electronic data interchange.
Advanced PD&D Technology Adoption
Virtual product design (VPD) and rapid prototyping enable firms to perform faster product iterations to meet shrinking time to market windows. Notably, the top adopters of advanced PD&D technologies are industrial product sectors, as opposed to consumer products. The adoption of advanced PD&D technologies and the technology mix vary greatly by industry.15 For example, the use of VPD technologies in the aerospace industry is more common than rapid prototyping. For this industry, VPD includes digital preassembly and 3D build simulation — much more efficient than large–scale physical mock–ups (Figure 17).
Conversely, the use of rapid prototyping technology is more common in the industrial electronics industry. The ability to conduct rapid prototyping with key partners — including suppliers — is essential for market leadership. Rapid prototyping allows the construction of physical prototypes quickly, depending on part size and complexity, which traditionally can take weeks or months.16
PD&D Process Adoption
Compared to the adoption of advanced PD&D technologies, the adoption of organizational processes across industries is more consistent. The top three industries with the highest adoption rate of cross–functional design teams are motor vehicle, motor vehicle parts, and industrial electronics (Figure 18).
The top three industries with the highest adoption rate of concurrent design/engineering processes are the motor vehicle, industrial electronics, and aerospace sectors. Different decision–makers in the PD&D process — for example, product designers or manufacturers — have their own sets of requirements to fill, while maintaining the overarching objective of maximizing end–user satisfaction. Concurrent design/engineering, as a more cost–effective and efficient design method, essentially facilitates the optimization of different design parameters, such as product performance and product manufacturing cost. E–based design or engineering is an emerging process innovation that helps leverage cross–functional design teams and concurrent design/engineering, interconnecting global supply chain partners. Although the adoption of e–based design is currently lower than other PD&D processes, it is expected to be more prevalent in the near future.2
Benefits of Advanced PD&D Technology and Process Adoption
For this report, reduced time to market (defined as the time required from conceptualization of a product idea to readiness for distribution) and improved satisfaction of client needs were chosen as key business benefits resulting from adopting advanced PD&D technologies and processes. These two dimensions quantify the extent to which advanced PD&D technologies and processes enable firms to react to top PD&D drivers: a firm's response to pressure to meet changing customer preferences can lead to improved satisfaction of client needs, while the firm's response to shrinking time to market windows can reduce that firm's own time to market.
As a result of adopting advanced PD&D technologies and processes, 84 percent of Canadian manufacturers on average are seeing significant improvement in the satisfaction of their client needs and 66 percent are reducing their time to market.15
Advanced PD&D technologies can help firms improve the satisfaction of their client needs in two ways. The technologies can be used to validate design in the early stages of the PD&D process to detect errors and flaws, and they can be used to prevent miscommunication of design concepts — especially with increasing product complexity and cost pressures.17
Across Canadian manufacturing sectors that adopt advanced PD&D technologies, improved client satisfaction is more commonly achieved as a business benefit than reduced time to market (Figure 19). Advanced PD&D technologies and processes also generate more conventional benefits such as new product features and improved product quality. Of advanced PD&D technology and process adopters, 87 percent report a significant improvement in product quality and 67 percent report improvement in new product features.Footnote J
Size of Firm Analysis
Compared to large–scale businesses, fewer small– and medium–sized firms (SMEs) are adopting PD&D processes.Footnote K For example, large firms are 28 percent more likely to utilize concurrent design/engineering techniques compared to small firms and are 41 percent more likely to use cross–functional design teams (Figure 20). SMEs are less likely to implement concurrent design/ engineering since the process is most effective when applied to long and complex PD&D cycles — an attribute more common in large firms. As a corollary, SMEs also adopt cross–functional design teams less as it is often a prerequisite for concurrent design/engineering.
Interestingly, the adoption rates of advanced PD&D technologies are similar between small, medium and large firms (Figure 20). The main reason for this is the recent introduction of more cost–effective solutions accessible to SMEs. Rapid prototyping has become more cost–effective through the introduction of affordable 3D printer technology, which can be one–tenth the cost of more sophisticated rapid prototyping options.2 Also, affordable virtual product development technologies are available including cost–effective visualization, simulation, and 3D collaboration tools.2
The adoption of advanced PD&D technologies is less prevalent than PD&D processes in general. Since PD&D is done collaboratively with many supply–chain partners, each partner must adopt the same process to coordinate successfully. However, it is not necessary for all the partners to adopt advanced PD&D technologies since a limited number of PD&D project contributors are usually responsible for prototyping and virtual product development.2
Small–, medium–, and large–scale Canadian firms perceive similar business benefits from adopting advanced PD&D technologies and processes. Regardless of business size, over 80 percent of Canadian firms report a significant improvement in the satisfaction of client needs and product quality (Figure 21).
However, a greater proportion of SMEs report a reduction in time to market (Figure 21). Reducing their time to market helps SMEs further enhance their lead–time advantage on which they rely more to protect their IP compared to patents, confidentiality agreements, or secrecy.2
- Footnote 10
See Annex I for a detailed breakdown of PD&D technology/process adoption and benefits.
- Footnote 11
Small–, medium–, and large–scale businesses are defined as companies with 20 to 99 employees, 100 to 499 employees, and over 500 employees, respectively.
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