Increased productivity by improved information flow in the NPD Process

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master Thesis
Glykeria Pantazi, Evdoxia
The project is carried out as a case study at an international company that is responsible for manufacturing premium construction equipment, with its head quarter in Gothenburg. The presented study focuses on the New Product Development (NPD) process and especially on the Concept Development study phase that takes place in the plants of Arvika and Braås. The outcome of the Concept Development phase is to provide the later phases of the NPD with a design drawing that includes the first changes for the update of an already existing product or for the development of a new one. The design drawing that is a CAD model will be passed on to the phases of the NPD until it will reach the industrialization and realization phase. Along the process new updates will occur to the design drawing but the Concept Development phase is responsible of setting the base and exploring if the changes or new features to be implemented to the new product are possible. The study examines the Concept Development process in terms of variation and noise factors that influence the information flow between the different departments that are involved in that process. The factors with high contribution to the information flow were determined through interviews, observations through meetings and design reviews and the use of ideas generation tools. The basis theory of the project was the foundation of Six Sigma (SS) which have been used as a guideline to arrange the next steps. The aim of the project is to determine the critical-to-quality factors that is creating variation in the information flow of the concept loop of the Concept Development process, as well as to examine how alternations in the data visualization in the concept loop can stimulate discussion that will possibly lead to the free up of time in the departments of design engineering, quality and manufacturing engineering. According to previously conducted studies in the company, the welding process has been mapped and the concept loop was identified together with the recognition of inconsistency between the communication interactions between the departments. The findings of the study lead to the identification of the critical factors responsible for the variation in the information flow which were: (i) lack of information sharing (ii) not fully understood and integrated cross-functionality and (iii) lack of common language and point of view. All of the above mentioned, has a connection with data visualization, although it is not an obvious observation, and it has been investigated by the study how a change in the data visualization can pose as a conversation starter and change the point of view of the discussion and provide a start from product oriented point of view to a more process oriented. To examine that, a pilot study has been carried out based on the analysis from an on-going thesis study in order to examine the effects that a different data visualisation can have. The project demonstrated that a change in that domain can be a conversation starter and influence the point of view. It has also indicated possible factors that can enhance the cross functionality concerning the procedures the company has already in place for NPD project execution. One of the most beneficial were the possible use of the different representation from the pilot study in the processes of the company for the closing of the feedback loop in the Concept development phase and the possible economic profit the company will possibly enjoy.
Materialvetenskap, Produktion, Maskinteknik, Materialteknik, Materials Science, Production, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering
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