Integrating Product Design and Production: Designing for Time-to-Market


Abstract: This paper presents a methodology that incorporates production concerns at an early product design stage to reduce its time-to-market. The dependencies between the product and the production system have been explored, and methods to improve the fit between the two are being developed using design theory, manufacturing knowledge, queuing theory and trade-off analysis. This methodology would provide the design team with tools to estimate the production time of a new product and to indicate appropriate changes to the design and production system early in the product realization process.

Introduction: The 1990s have seen the emergence of the customer as the dominant factor in the manufacturing enterprise. With ever decreasing product life cycles the time-to-market has gained equal importance with the cost of the product. The ability to integrate a new product into an existing manufacturing system is a major factor in determining the time-to-market. The main factors influencing the production time are the production quantity, the available capacity of the production system and the selection of appropriate materials and processes for the various components of the product. To reduce a product’s manufacturing and assembly times, these aspects must be considered in the early design stage, when it can have the maximum impact on the product cost and time-to-market. The design for time-to-market (DFTTM) methodology considers the expected state of the production system at the time of new product’s introduction in the selection of materials, manufacturing and assembly processes at the early design stage.

When the design team has a preliminary product structure and rough sketches of its parts, candidate materials, manufacturing and assembly processes must be selected. These selections should be made such that the materials and processes for the different parts and subassemblies are compatible with each other and satisfy the design requirements [1]. Since the design is still at its conceptual stage, detailed engineering drawings are not available. Thus a tool is needed that would utilize the high level design information available at this stage to estimate the product’s time-to-market. The tool should be able to capture the design information with minimal effort on the part of the design team, provide them with reasonable estimates of the time-to-market and indicate where improvements to the design can be made to reduce its manufacturing and assembly times.

Research Objectives:

The DFTTM methodology enables the product realization team to answer the following questions in the initial stages of the product development process: Can we make it on time? What can we do to make it faster?

The methodology is being implemented in a system that allows the design team to:

System Architecture: The software system shown in Figure 1 includes the following three subsystems:

Figure 1. System architecture


  1. E. B. Magrab. Integrated Product and Process Design and Development, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 1997.
  2. N.P. Suh. Principles of Design, Oxford University Press, New York, 1990.