Why are we always late?

Years back I managed a smaller engineering product design team, which was 1 of 4 global teams totalling some 260 development engineers. Our team was assigned a variety of jobs, ranging from complete products to minor sub-components design. The global master projects office maintained a simple visual progress tracking system, called pilot charts. Our projects usually progressed well, initially, but invariably tended to fall behind in the later stages of the allocated time plan. I regularly had to make uncomfortable reports to the global group’s master planner.

Continue reading “Why are we always late?”

Affordance and Design

Spending 2 years using the train door on the left, getting off at my intended stop became an unconscious routine procedure for me. It never failed. Then on my first day visiting a new client, I travelled on a different line by the train in the middle. Guess what happened – I failed to open the door and missed my stop! Thanks to having read Don Norman’s book ‘The Design of Everyday Things’ I do not blame myself for being the idiot. Now this week, on yet another rail line, I came across the door control design on the right.

Continue reading “Affordance and Design”

The problem with standards

A standard defines a set of requirements or an acceptable level of attainment; or it can be a specification that assures compatibility between interfacing systems. The extent of recognition of a standard varies from International, adopted across the world, to independent norms that are subscribed to by members of an association or particular industry.

Continue reading “The problem with standards”

Medical hearables for hearing loss

There are good reasons for wanting to alleviate middle-age hearing loss (HL):

    • People with untreated HL are twice as likely to feel left behind in job and salary prospects[1a].
    • People with untreated HL are 2.5 times more likely to suffer major depression disorders[1b].
    • Untreated middle-age HL is a factor that contributes 9% of dementia[2].
    • Untreated HL costs the UK £25.5 billion (US$32 billion) each year[3].
    • Untreated HL costs the world community at least US$750 billion each year[4].

Yet, most people with HL do not get hearing help. Here is why.

Continue reading “Medical hearables for hearing loss”

Emergency Ventilators

Respiratory care ventilator for pandemic emergencies, such as the COVID-19 Coronavirus. The concept is low cost and mass-producible from off-the-shelf components that are readily available at national levels. The Ennomotive Open Innovation Hub for Engineering has developed the concept into a clinically effective lung Protective Volume Control SIMV ventilator. Ennomotive can provide interested producers with the final documentation and conformity assessments to medical device standards, or they can have the ventilator produced. The final OxyVita ventilator won the prestigious prize for best initiative in Health Technology 2020, awarded by the Spanish minister of health.

The individual device has a component cost of just £400 (GBP), or Euro460 or US$500. It can be produced for less than Euro1,000. Continue reading “Emergency Ventilators”

Are we there yet?

The aim of NPD project management is to develop the product within time and budget constraints, while also assuring that the design work is complete. There are risks from a NPD team not recognising an over- or under-design. Releasing a new product late and over budget, due to a tendency of making endless low value-adding refinements to the design, is practically just as bad a releasing a sub-standard design too early. Continue reading “Are we there yet?”

Navigating solution space

Solution space is abstract, multi-dimensional and non-convex. The space contains known and partially explored optimum solutions, which are illustrated here as hilltops. Areas of solution space are inaccessible to us, either because someone else have established the Intellectual Property Rights to it or because it represents a ‘void’ in our own design or production capabilities – i.e. the solution depends on a materials or technique that is outside our organisation’s skills set. Continue reading “Navigating solution space”

Evidence-based decision making

Decision making is the forming of a causal argument that a chosen alternative will result a certain future outcome. The quality of a decision is largely dependent on the accuracy and relevance of the information on which it is based – as well as being free from subjective bias in reflecting the true needs. When poor quality or biased evidence is used for decision making, the proposed alternative will risk producing an ineffective or adverse outcome. Standards, such as ISO 9001 on quality management and ISO 16355 on QFD, therefore calls for factual decision information. Continue reading “Evidence-based decision making”

Engineering vs Art

Product design is about applying engineering and arts in creating or improving function, usability, ergonomics or aesthetics, to make products more marketable or their production more efficient. For purpose of illustrating the engineering and art domains’ contributions to the customer perceived value, we are for a moment taking liberty in adapting Kano’s work into a value diagram containing a Maslow self-actualisation need. It serves to illustrate relativity between engineering and arts. Continue reading “Engineering vs Art”