There is more to design and product development than just coming up with a possible product design. The most basic yet most rigorous phase in production is product concept generation.
Concept generation is an integral part of manufacturing because it is where the blueprint of the design is laid down. Aside from ideas and insights, it involves deep probing, testing, and validation, making the product aesthetic and functional.
In this post, we look at how you can do product concept generation using scientific techniques, get to know what concept generation is, its importance, and the stage-by-stage processes of concept generation.
Processes and advantages of using such techniques are also squared down for you to learn how to develop products like a pro.
The term concept generation is very much used in business strategic plans and product development. As a production phase, it is that stage where the client’s idea is put into a brainstorm.
Descriptions for specifications, and an outline of a step-by-step, detail-by-detail sketch or render of what the product will become is also generated in concept generation.
In the succeeding sections, you will get to know more about concept generation, what it is, and how it could impact your production mechanisms.
What is Concept Generation?
In the advent of technology, most producers now veer away with concept generation and go immediately to computer mediated designing.
However, seasoned production companies would tell you that the transition between sketched concept generation to renders would give a more precise and well-thought design than skipping it altogether.
Thus, to define, concept generation is a product development strategy used by designers, engineers, and producers to bring new insights into a rough draft.
For example, you already have the idea of design. Through concept generation, it becomes a reality via CNC machining, renders, 3D models, or even traditional sketches with descriptions via texts.
Concept generation is a vital area in manufacturing. According to Tech Target, product development without concept generation may lead to design deadlock.
The reason for this is that concept generation allows a pool of alternative ideas whenever design harmony is not achieved in brainstorming.
Importance of Concept Generation
Concept generation is not included in product development and in the overall production scheme for nothing. In the production industry, the following are the key benefits and importance of concept generation.
In concept generation, there is a diversity of ideas, and experiences in various production stages. Designers and engineers get down to generate a product concept with the end that it would be both aesthetic and functional.
With these, concept generation allows greater design flexibility in production since it enables the incorporation of various specs and modifications before rendering product prototypes.
Rapid Idea Flow:
Another importance of concept generation in production is having a rapid idea flow. According to Tufts University, the ‘popcorning’ of ideas with the brainstorming of various experts tends to lead to 70% more functional and well-thought products.
This is the main reason why seasoned producers would recommend not to veer away from concept generation.
You just would not know what functional product could be made from someone’s Eureka moment while brainstorming in the concept generation phase.
According to Smart Storming, the collaboration which happens in concept generation results in a polarized design.
This means that the group of designers and engineers, when they have focused into one product design, start working as one, hence, becoming better in modifying, refining, or upgrading a product.
Collaboration is essentially the key behind successful concept generation. Polarizing the design in one, harmonized whole, is the objective of collaboration, and is the cornerstone of concept generation.
In concept generation, everyone must keep up. With dozens of ideas per minute, the chance of potentially creating a highly aesthetic and functional part is expected, according to The Design Society.
For instance, what one member of the team lacks, the others can complement through team effort. When one idea does not work, faster idea generation can be achieved in groups.
As such, overall, increased productivity is present because there is no ideal deadlock.
This is perhaps the most important of all when it comes to the production industry. Although considered a rough draft, concept generation already lays down the materials, build, and initial look of the product design.
Through concept generation, designers and engineers already have a range of materials and specifications to build on. For example, they can take one and test the material first before incorporating it in the final design. From there, modifications take place.
Tuning up and refining are also lined up, all thanks to the predetermined specifications brought by concept generation.
Of course, these are only some of the importance of concept generation in production. As a matter of fact, these are general advantages of concept production. Nonetheless, if you would take these all in, you can easily infer how impactful concept generation is for your company.
Phases of Concept Generation
As straightforward as it may seem and as simple as you might think it is, concept generation follows steps that you should not miss. The following are the phases in concept generation which you should be familiar with.
This is considered as the most important phase in concept generation. One company even dubs this stage as the bedrock of the whole process. It is very imperative to master this stage and not to mess this one up.
Say that a client with a product idea comes to you. The client wants the idea to come to life. To properly execute this phase, you should be able to do the following:
1. Needs Assessment:
First, you should ask your client, how did you come up with this idea? Second, why go for this product? Third, what problems in the product would you want the team to solve for you?
Once you asked them these questions, you have now identified the client’s needs. And once you have identified what the client wants, you are also now ready to proceed to the next stages of concept generation.
2. Product Review:
As soon as you have consulted with the client, it is time to brainstorm with the group. Tell the team of the client’s idea and product concerns up to the last, minute detail.
Have the team review the feasibility of the product. Lay down a rough draft of the image of how the product is supposed to be like.
A common mistake among product developers, designers, and engineers, is not documenting product details as they go through the design process. It is easier to reinforce the design, modify or refine it if all the previous blueprints are easily accessible.
As Fractory says, a product design history file is important to store as it provides key reference on where, how, and why a specification, part, or feature is changed.
Product Development Stage:
This stage of concept generation involves a core group. This is where collaborative work becomes hardcore.
Every insight that will be incorporated in the product design must be consulted with the design team. To make it more solid, the following steps must be followed under the product development stage.
Through research, comparative analyses, benchmarking, and best practices in production can be extracted. You need to understand that some manufacturing companies are way ahead of their time.
It is best to learn a thing or two from them before you jump onto design and production without any backup plan, or troubleshooting plans in mind. Also note that researching is not a one-man job. The more research is done, the better insights the team can come up with.
In the brainstorming phase, researching is supposedly done. With the data or benchmark information that you have in hand, you can now consult thoroughly with the team as to how you can bank on this information to create a trademark product.
The downside of brainstorming is that there are a lot of ideas that would sprout every second. As such, it is important to have a sorting mechanism for you to land on the most helpful insights possible.
Speaking of sorting mechanism, knowing which data or insight to incorporate in the product design is the whole idea behind concept realization. In here, ways of separating useful information from those that are already cliché must be employed.
1. Idea and Information Review:
This is the part where the design history becomes important. Most times when the concept generation comes at a deadlock, the best place to restart is to rummage from the information which you have discarded at first.
Tufts University suggests that out of this previously discarded information, choose five of the best and most feasible. From there, test their applicability to the product being designed.
Incorporate this process cyclically in the brainstorming phase whenever your team comes at a design deadlock.
2. Idea Ranking:
Note that before this phase, you already inventoried the top five ideas which you are either working on, discarded previously and are now useful, and more. Out of these inventories, you must rank them in terms of applicability and practicality.
In idea ranking, get the input of each team member. Once there is a consensus, realizing the concept behind the product would come easily breezy.
3. Product Design:
At this point, you now have a working inventory of the top ideas. Before going further into product design, you must have at least a finalized top three idea for each of the parameters you have set.
Once you have narrowed down what you want, it is time to engage into product design. Present the top three ideas the team came up with to the client. When the clients have chosen the concept, concept generation is done. The next phase is either CNC machining, CAD rendering, or 3D prototyping.
Others would tell you that there are at least six steps in concept generation. However, these steps could be systematized into three major steps with specific sub-steps.
The only gist here is that these three steps we have mentioned here are indispensable to concept generation. Hence, you must be familiar with what these steps are and how they are employed chronologically.
What Are the Sources of Concept Generation?
If you think that research and brainstorming are the only sources of concept generation, then you are wrong. Some of the best sources to generate product concepts are through employees, online reviews, customer testimonials, distribution lines, focus groups, even competitors.
Is Concept Generation Now the First Phase in Product Development?
Concept generation is not a new concept. In the new product development process, Asana reports that concept generation is indeed the first phase of the product development process.
In some companies, brainstorming, testing, prototyping, and validating are also now integrated in concept generation.
What Are the Next Stages After Concept Generation?
As a rule of thumb in business plans and strategies, the next stages after concept generation are the following: concept screening, concept testing, modification or refinement, marketing strategy, product development, and then the production proper.
Is Market Assessment and Marketing Plan Essential in Concept Generation?
Of course. The production industry is a large market. As such, it is also important to integrate market assessment and a working marketing plan. Where else could you introduce these than at the first part of production which is concept generation, right?
Kemal’s Complete Injection Molding Solutions
From concept generation, prototyping, to injection molding, it is important to have a reliable manufacturing company to consult with. Fortunately, you can check out Kemal Manufacturing’s complete injection molding solutions.
With their decades-long reputability, you can depend on Kemal to offer injection molding products, services, and solutions for your needs. With precision techniques and an expert pool of designers and engineers, Kemal is here to cater to your injection molding needs.
Concept generation is imperative in the whole production process. As a part of the production process, concept generation is important because it is at the core of design, laying down the blueprint of what a product will become.
For these product insights to be realized, a step-by-step process must be followed in concept generation. This includes the preparation stage, the product development stage, and the realization stage. Fortunately, since it is a collaborative process, insights become limitless.
Because of the limitless potential of concept generation, it brings about increased productivity, rapid idea or design flow, and the design harmony or polarity. These benefits are essential in keeping a uniform, aesthetic, and functional product design.
Taking it all together, product concept generation is very much needed in production because it creates the blueprint by which the entire design of the product shall be anchored on. So, what are you waiting for? Get those sketch pads, and gather the team up for some quality concept generation for your products.