Recognizing and Exploiting Success Potentials of Tomorrow

To increase the innovative strength of industrial companies we developed methods and procedures which are structured in four levels (see 4-level-model).

4-level-model for future-oriented Business Management

Focus on the Product Development Process

The core of our tasks is the product development process. This process ranges from the product idea or business idea to a successful market entry and covers the activities product planning, product development and production system development. The production system development contains in principle the manufacturing process planning and production process planning according to AWF/REFA respectively. In our experience the product development process cannot be seen as a stringent sequence of process steps. This is more an interplay of tasks, that can be subdivided into three cycles

3-cycle-model of Product Design

The first cycle: From the success potentials of the future to the promising product design

This cycle characterizes the steps from finding the success potentials of the future to create the promising product design, what we call the principle solution. There are the four major tasks foresight, product discovering, business planning and conceptual design in this cycle. The aim of foresight is to identify the potentials for future success, as well as the relevant business options. The methods used here are such as the scenario technique, Delphi studies and trend analyses. The objective of product discovering is to find new product ideas (if necessary also additional attendances) to exploit the detected potentials for success. In this phase we apply creativity techniques such as the Lateral Thinking of de Bono or the well-known TRIZ on the one hand. On the other hand we utilize our technology planning concept, e.g. technology roadmaps for a systematic creation of product ideas. The business planning initially deals with the business strategy, i.e. answering the question which market segments should be covered, when and how. The product strategy is then elaborated on this basis. It contains information on setting out the product program, on cost-effective handling of the large number of variants required by the market, on the technologies used and on updating the program over the product lifecycle. Additionally, a business plan must be worked out to make sure an attractive return on investment can be achieved.

The second cycle: The Virtual Product

This cycle covers the three phases domain-spanning Conceptual Design, domain-specific Concretization and System Integration. Within the last phase the domain-specific results are integrated into one overall solution. In this context the creation and analysis of computer models are an important part, which leads to the widely used term Virtual Product and Virtual Prototyping respectively.

The third cycle: Virtual Production/ Digital Factory

The product and the production system have to be developed alternately. This is in particular necessary for complex products. For example for mechatronic products, which can be distinguished as an integration of mechanics and electronics in a confined space, already the product concept is affected by the considered manufacturing technology. This prompted us to arrange the production system development and product development in parallel.

In the further course of the third cycle of the production system development the four main aspects process planning, work planning, working appliance planning and production logistics have to be concretized further. In this process partial models (representations of the arranged aspects insight a computer) occur, which have to be integrated to a coherent system of partial models. 

The depicted  model of cycles needs an efficient management of data, which represents the partial models of the product development and production system development. Thereby the partial models of the product development have to be integrated with the models of the production system development. The horizontal arrows in the model of three cycles emphasize, that the product conception has to be dealt with the conception of the production system in a closely interplay. In the context of the domain specific concretion (design and composition) there is also a close reference to process planning. This interplay between the product development and the production system development has to be supported by the data management.