Engineering Services – Product Development
“We need a new _____!” “I’ve got this great idea!” “What if we made _____?” “Customers are asking for _____”
. . . just a few of the statements that start the process of bringing new products to market. Do any of these sound familiar?
When you browse at a store, do you ever think about the effort it takes to get that widget from first idea to on the shelf? Do you wonder “Who thought of this?” Or ponder the time and cost that went into it?
There’s a lot . . . design, prototyping, testing, manufacturing, packaging, etc. . . . before it goes on the shelf. The process is Product Development. Read This Article as an overview of the process and as a guide for those embarking on the journey. The essence is summed-up in this diagram.
The process starts with an idea or a vision, and ends, hopefully, with an awesome product. The important essence of “Developing” is iteration. We think about it, configure it, challenge it, then evaluate the response and start again. These loops start in our thoughts, but later transform to the electronic (CAD) and eventually the physical (prototypes). And, it all starts by formulating the new idea. It’s coming up with the idea, configuring thoughts, challenging the thinking, then revisiting the ideas with new mutations.
This happens in cognitive processes as we experiment or create anything new. We usually don’t even realize it — like following a recipe in the kitchen. Or, doing almost anything for the first time?
Our Product Development Kitchen
The process is really quite natural, but it has a lot of choices. When developing a product for market, you can waste time and money if you muddle around — just like when cooking when you don’t have a specific direction.
The product development process is similar to creating yummy things in the kitchen. It works with a recipe because you’re following steps others show, and you know the sub-processes like measuring ingredients and mixing. Even if you’re making up your own new recipe, you already know the main steps and have a pretty good idea about how to borrow from other recipes and things you’ve previously done to be successful.
That’s us, except our kitchen is the lab. We do Product Development. With nearly 30 years of success, we know a little about it. In the kitchen it’s cooking. In our lab it’s Product Development — with us as the master chefs that love making new “recipes” for you. Oh, it takes a little more than 40 minutes in the oven to bring it out perfect 🙂
Fitting the Process
Examples of our work are seen on nearly every page of this website. They’re in the Product Design Slide Show, and the fiddly images placed for decoration.
Our job is to assist in creating and mutating ideas, then to think through the details (also called design). We then challenge them with prototypes and testing to see how it goes. That’s how we learn, then we iterate (through the cycles) to perfection.
Using the kitchen metaphor, we’ve been cooking for a long time. We know how to measure, what to mix — and what not to mix. We’ve been helping customers for a lot of years, so we very aware of potential pitfalls, hurdles and money wasters. That comes with experience.
Case Studies and Examples
How have we helped others? From inventors to huge corporations, we’ve helped many folks move good ideas through all the various stages of Product Development and into production. Of course there are too many to discuss, however here are some samples in the form of Case Studies:
Case Study: Better Shifting For Bicycles
For many years Synthesis did all the design, engineering and product development for WickWerks cycling components. It started by realizing that front shifting is one of the least developed areas of the bicycle, and improving it would make a better ride experience.
We created technology for faster shifting chainrings, then proved it in numerous bike races including many World Cup wins. The technology is now available on a wide range of chainrings. We also created other innovative cycling products . . . like the Z-Rings, the Fit Link Adapter, the Juniors Solution, and the Sentinel, Dual-Side Chain Catcher . . . all invented and developed here at Synthesis.
For more information, the Engineer’s Case Study on Full Service Engineering gives a more complete summary of the effort as well as the results.
Case Study: Artistic Expression
The artistic appeal of a license plate frame can easily mask the technical effort and innovation behind it. This image shows just a few of many frames as examples of how Synthesis provides much of the design, engineering and product development on which the art shines.
The beauty of this work comes because the eye is captured in the fun and fancy, overlooking the blend of manufacturability, optical illusion (so it looks like more than it is), 3D effects, and legal limitation requirements. The elegance is in the careful blend of all the demands. License plate frames that we do represent much more than just a pretty picture.
Case Study: Tiny House Trailer
When it comes to building a house, a solid foundation is required. And, when the house must survive the rigors of towing on the road, there is even more to consider while engineering the foundation.
Check out this short post on Tiny House Trailer Design as a case study in product development and engineering with conflicting requirements. Creativity is a key to success, and there is a lot that goes into the design of a mobile foundation. ( You can also get the plans here if you want. )
Case Study: Custom Machines
The applications of product development go beyond the things set out for sale as we normally think of it. Sometimes it’s for Custom Machines for factory automation or special tools to accomplish a specific task. While the quantities are usually quite small ( like 1 or 2 ), the tasks to build and successfully deploy specialty equipment are all product development.
The Synthesis Difference
Yes, the process for Product Development is pretty natural. So, why hire Synthesis to help? There are 3 important reasons:
We know the road by participation in a lot of industries for a lot of customers. Of course, every time is different, and every new product idea is different, but there are similarities. Reliance on our experience gives you an edge with each new venture, and we’ll help guide through potential pitfalls.
A close companion of experience is knowledge. We all learn as we go, and we pay attention so we can bring greater knowledge and experience to each new customer and each new project. In everything we do, we bring our knowledge to enhance your success.
The single most constraining aspect of Product Development is cost. It’s not cheap to develop, nor is it cheap to manufacture new products, so knowing how to make good decisions along the way is key to controlling cost. See Experience and Knowledge above. We’ll help you think through the cost options to find ways of minimizing this aspect of your new development.
Experience, Knowledge and Cost are closely connected in product development. As noted in Approaching the Green Line it’s a quest for the optimal path. A good mix of Experience and Knowledge is key to success with Cost and, more importantly, for successful product launch.
It’s true, engineering services like Synthesis are not cheap, so there better be a Return on the Investment. That ROI comes with guidance around money and time sucking obstacles. It also comes through acceleration to production. If our help gets you selling widgets 6 months earlier, that’s a lot to justify hiring us. Oh, and don’t forget the jump you get with your customers — and on your competitors. That may not have a measurable in dollars, but it’s huge in company success.
Accelerate Your Product Development
Everything that we see and purchase comes either from nature or from some sort of manufacturing. Sometimes in small ways like chopping vegetables for a salad, or in much larger processes like the production of a car. The Product Development process is the way in which ideas transform into actual “things” to use, to sell, and to buy. Classically, it’s the process of taking ideas market.
Synthesis is all about helping people with product development — whether on a small piece of the process in an Engineering Consulting role, or by assisting with the complete process start to finish. That’s what we do.
If Product Development is in your future, it’s wise to get assistance with experience. Working with Synthesis is one way to accomplish that as a Lever To Boost Your Bottom Line.