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01-06-2014 | Issue 2/2014

Advances in Manufacturing 2/2014

Approaching lean product development using system dynamics: investigating front-load effects

Journal:
Advances in Manufacturing > Issue 2/2014
Authors:
Alemu Moges Belay, Torgeir Welo, Petri Helo

Abstract

Competing with successful products has become perplexing with several uncertainties and transmutes from time to time as customers’ expectations are dynamic. That is why manufacturing firms exhaustively strive to look for a better competitive frontier using well-established and innovative product development (PD) processes. In this paper, we would like to answer three research questions: (i) What would be the effects of front-loading in PD? (ii) Can we improve our PD process endlessly? (iii) When is the critical time that the firm should take remedial action for improvements? As a contribution to the vast numbers of improvement methods in new product development (NPD), this paper investigates the effects of front-loading using set-based concurrent engineering (SBCE) on cost and lead time. Models are developed and treated using a system dynamics (SD) approach. We assign a hypothetical upfront investment for SBCE and compare its effects on total cost and lead time of the development process. From the research, it is found that the total cost of PD is reduced almost by half—although the front loading is higher in order to encompass multiple design alternatives. The total product lead time is reduced by almost 20 %. The model reveals the critical time for improvement of the PD process. We use SD tool (e.g., STELLA) for simulation and visualization of the complex PD model, using SBCE as one of several strategies to front-load activities in the NPD process.

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