A Conceptual Framework in Lean

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National Conference on Design for Product Life Cycle, Feb 17-18, 2006, BITS Pilani

A Conceptual Framework for Lean New Product Development
G. Anand

Rambabu Kodali*

Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering Group, Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, Rajasthan 333 031, India, anandg@bits-pilani.ac.in
*Professor and Group Leader, Mechanical Engineering Group and Engineering Technology Group, Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, Rajasthan 333 031, India,
proframbabukodali@yahoo.com, rbkodali@bits-pilani.ac.in, Corresponding author

ABSTRACT
Recent years have seen great strides in the reorganization of manufacturing around the lean manufacturing (LM) philosophy. The prime reason being that in most of the markets, demand has slowed or declined and the cost competitiveness of an organization has considerably increased due to competition. LM has paved the way for improving the competitive position of an organization by drastically reducing the wastes in manufacturing. Similar condition prevails in the field of product development and manufacturers have become more concerned about the efficiency in developing new products. They have been facing profitability problems due to the high costs of developing and manufacturing many new products or product variations. These organizations have recognized that effective product realization requires flexibility and leanness across the whole process of design to manufacture. The advocates of lean philosophy have already emphasized on the application of lean principles organization wide, but due importance was not given till recent years. Now, researchers have started applying the principles of LM to product development process and are inundating the literature with topics like wastes in product development process, tools and techniques, barriers etc. But none of them have discussed about a systematic framework for making the existing product development process leaner. Hence in this paper, an attempt has been made to develop a conceptual framework, which will try to provide a comprehensive structure or a guideline for the organizations to make their product development process leaner. Key words: lean new product development (LNPD), framework, lean manufacturing (LM) 1.

Introduction

The new product development (NPD) process has a great influence on the outcome of product, both technically and economically. It is precisely in this process where the customer’s ideas and speculations are conceptualized into a physical model, defining his/her needs and requirements into form, function, fit, procedures, drawings, and technical specifications. Developing new products faster than competitors do is a formidable strategic weapon to succeed in increasingly turbulent markets. But it is a daunting task as the nature of product design process is quite complex because of the following reasons:

• It involves thousands of decisions, with numerous interdependencies and a large number of participants are involved, such as product managers, development engineers, service engineers, market consultants and representatives from top management in addition to customers and suppliers. Each category of professionals has a different background, culture, and learning style

• Trade-offs between multiple, competing design criteria must be made throughout the design process, often with inadequate information and under intense budget and schedule pressure • Early design stages are notoriously hard to evaluate and control against progress milestones because of the lack of physical deliverables such as drawings. Further, it is difficult to measure the amount of work completed and remaining on any given task in the project

• New product development projects extends over a period of years and are increasingly subject to uncertainty because of the pace of technological change, the rapid shifting of market opportunities, and the inability to keep pace with relentless pressure to reduce time...
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