Investment in product design for greater cost reduction applies to many production industries. But, one of the great ironies of rotational molding—a good illustration—is that the primary benefit of low-cost molds is also the reason most investors are not willing to invest in good design. Perhaps this mindset originates from the simple fact that mold is tangible. After investing money in a mold, the result is a physical thing that can yield production parts. If the mold can be created with minimal design at the lowest possible investment, why should there be an additional investment in product design?
Mold is a tangible product ultimately producing parts while design plans are often CAD files which often never seen or understood until the product is molded. This paradox discourages most investors from considering any additional investment in a well-designed product. Unfortunately, this shortsighted approach frequently leads to inferior costly products that are sometimes unsafe as well as unreliable.
Others avoid investing in design by simply copying products that have been a market success. Although these justifications for minimizing investment in design may appear to make good business sense, they are actually poor business decisions.
Clearly, poorly designed products are more costly than well-designed products. Higher costs are typically incurred from the poorer overall quality, lower production yields, high labor costs, higher rates of return due to premature failure, liability suits due to product defects, and usually many more parts.
Production efficiencies are compromised due to excessively tight tolerances, numerous secondary operations, complex fixtures, and rework that are directly related to poor design. Premature product failures can often be traced to incorrect material specifications, excessive stresses, lack of environmental considerations or improper assembly specifications…all resulting from poor design.
Why Ordinary Product Design is a Costly Decision
The most amusing products are literally copies of the originals on the market. These clones are superficially identical to the original but they lack the inherent qualities that are integral to the original. These include specific details related to tolerances, parting lines, surface finishes, tool quality, color, graphics and fine details that are part of the overall production operation. The omission of basic design and engineering considerations in a copycat clone often results in a low-cost inferior product that ultimately fails in the market.
Good product design is not simply developing a 3D CAD model of a plastic part. It requires creative thinking, imagination, a complete understanding of the product and its use as well as the end user. Good design also requires careful consideration of parameters that must be evaluated and prioritized based on engineering principles, as well as aesthetic and ergonomic parameters.
Good design requires an understanding of the materials, their environments of use and a basic understanding of the manufacturing steps required to produce a quality product consistently. Simply generating a complex 3D shape using some CAD program is not designing, it is simply drafting.
Well-designed products will yield higher profits and greater cost reduction if they are manufactured with the same integrity that was invested in the design. This concept is part of an overall business philosophy firmly based on integrity, quality, ethics and value.
It doesn’t make economic sense to invest in good design if the entire business is not well designed. It should be remembered that nothing in life is free, everything comes with some price tag.