Conceptual Product Development in Small Corporations

Abstract: The main objective of the thesis “Conceptual Product Development in Small Corporations” is by the use of a case study test the MFD™-method (Erixon G. , 1998) combined with PMM in a product development project. (Henceforth called MFD™/PMM-method). The MFD™/PMM-method used for documenting and controlling a product development project has since it was introduced been used in several industries and projects. The method has been proved to be a good way of working with the early stages of product development, however, there are almost only projects carried out on large industries which means that there are very few references to how the MFD™/PMM-method works in a small corporation. Therefore, was the case study in the thesis “Conceptual Product Development in Small Corporations” carried out in a small corporation to find out whether the MFD™/PMM-method also can be applied and used in such a corporation. The PMM was proposed in a paper presented at Delft University of Technology in Holland 1998 by the author and Gunnar Erixon. (See appended paper C: The chart of modular function deployment.) The title “The chart of modular function deployment” was later renamed as PMM, Product Management Map. (Sweden PreCAD AB, 2000). The PMM consists of a QFD-matrix linked to MIM (Module Indication Matrix) via a coupling matrix which makes it possible to make an unbroken chain from the customer domain to the designed product/modules. The PMM makes it easy to correct omissions made in creating new products and modules. In the thesis “Conceptual Product Development in Small Corporations” the universal MFD™/PMM-method has been adapted by the author to three models of product development; original-, evolutionary- and incremental development. The evolutionary adapted MFD™/PMM-method was tested as a case study at Atlings AB in the community Ockelbo. Atlings AB is a small corporation with a total number of 50 employees and an annual turnover of 9 million €. The product studied at the corporation was a steady rest for supporting long shafts in turning. The project team consisted of management director, a sales promoter, a production engineer, a design engineer and a workshop technician, the author as team leader and a colleague from Dalarna University as discussion partner. The project team has had six meetings. The project team managed to use MFD™ and to make a complete PMM of the studied product. There were no real problems occurring in the project work, on the contrary the team members worked very well in the group, having ideas how to improve the product. Instead, the challenge for a small company is how to work with the MFD™/PMM-method in the long run! If the MFD™/PMM-method is to be a useful tool for the company it needs to be used continuously and that requires financial and personnel resources. One way for the company to overcome the probable lack of recourses regarding capital and personnel is to establish a good cooperation with a regional university or a development centre.