Engineering Design Reviews in New Product Development

Steven Spielberg

A design engineer is responsible for an entirely designed product to be delivered to meet the product specifications. Design reviews are an essential component of the design process of new product development. A cross-functional team must be formed to provide input on the product. This team should be comprised of members with different areas of expertise: engineering, marketing, sales, manufacturing, sourcing, and quality. The team is guided to review the current design and provide feedback to improve the product. The original product specifications are considered to ensure the product meets those guidelines. Design reviews are held at different milestones throughout the project to ensure the design stays on-track with the product specification.

Quality and reliability of the new products are evaluated in the design reviews. Purchased parts and self-manufactured parts must be held to certain quality level specifications set by engineering to ensure a quality end-product. Life testing, as well as other validation testing, authenticates the design before the release of the product for sale. Certain agencies, such as Underwriter Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and the European Commission (CE) provide standards to test products for safe consumer use. Third party test laboratories are used to certify the product to these standards.

Can the product be manufactured and in a profitable fashion? The new product must be thoroughly planned in order to be manufactured efficiently. Design for Six Sigma should also be utilized to ensure quality lean manufacturing. Cost out initiatives are used to increase profit margins. Quality must be priority during cost outs to ensure warranty costs do not arise due to a lower quality end product.

In the design review process, a safety assessment of the product is completed. The team should evaluate any safety concerns regarding the current design in manufacturing and for the finalized product. If the product does not meet safety requirements, the team needs to find ways to modify it. Considerations need to be made to determine whether or not the validation testing will prove that the product design is safe for the end user.

Design reviews need to be focused around the original product specifications set up by the project. The cross-functional team should have periodic design reviews through the life cycle of the new product development. Frequent reviews prevent “scope-creep” and aids in keeping costs of development on budget. The team meetings need to be kept on topic, and all ideas need to be thoroughly examined by the team. An action item list, which documents all steps throughout the life cycle of the project, needs to be kept up to date to list all ideas and concerns from the design review meetings.

The design engineer must keep the project on time and on budget. Keeping the design reviews on topic with the team improves the effectiveness of improving the design. Scoring the different ideas on improvement of the design weeds out the ideas that should not be incorporated. Design reviews are a necessity in new product development and need to be utilized effectively and frequently.

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