A reader asked what he should pay attention to when he starts to work on a new product in order to avoid a very large “dumb tax” in the future.
This is a good question, as there are many activities to undertake that will help your product be compliant and have quality and reliability that reaches or exceeds your and your customers’ expectations once it has been produced.
I recently wrote about the typical NPI process we follow with clients and its many constituent activities in this post: Going from 1 Prototype to Mass Production directly is Dangerous
There are 3 key topics you need to focus on. I’ll introduce them here and provide you with additional information on each so you can get informed before you start designing and developing your product in earnest.
3 topics you must work on when you start a new product design
Here are the three topics you need to work on when you start to design a new product. They will help you prevent expensive issues down the road.
If early failures are going to be very expensive for your company (maybe you offer a warranty, maybe you will count on favorable product reviews for more sales…), you need a plan, and you need to do some reliability testing to see where the weaknesses of the designs lie.
Learn more about product reliability planning and testing in these resources (here and on the various Sofeast group blogs):
- Product Reliability Testing | 7 FAQs – You probably need to do product reliability testing. Otherwise, you may have no idea how soon the product will fail and how it will fail, and that might cause you serious issues in the marketplace. Here are answers to 7 FAQs we get.
- Why Product Reliability Testing Is A MUST During Product Design [Podcast] – Did you know that designing for reliability starts during the earliest stages of your new product launch project? Renaud and Andrew explain why here along with some great advice for what to include in a reliability test plan and common issues to avoid.
- Product Quality and Reliability Issues: Typical Classification – What are typical product quality and reliability issues, when do they occur in the product’s lifecycle, and who might be responsible for them?
- Product Design Reliability Drives User Safety – I watched a nice video where the team from Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos’ hobby and side business) explains how they designed their series of prototypes. It is a great example of validation of a totally new product that can have a catastrophic safety failure.
- How To Do Product Reliability Testing? – An amazingly detailed guide written by our in-house product reliability expert and new product development manager, Andrew Amirnovin, which should be your first port of call when learning about product reliability testing.
- Do You Need a Customized Reliability Test Plan? – Reliability and compliance testing help you assure that products reaching the market can be sold and will be safe, thus lowering your risks as the importer of losing your investment and/or getting sued. Can you get a plan ‘off-the-shelf’ and go with that, or do you need to invest in something more customized?
If you intend/hope to make the product in large quantity, or if early failures are going to be very expensive, you need to have a quality plan and a test plan by now. You will need to run those tests on the prototype, and it will help you make the plan more specific.
Here are some quality resources (here and on the various Sofeast group blogs) to dive into:
- Quality Assurance In China Or Vietnam For Beginners [eBook] – Get started with this helpful eBook from Sofeast that introduces what you need to know about QA if you’re new to importing.
- Quality and Compliance of Imported Products – You want to make and distribute products that are at the right quality standard and comply with the regulations of the countries of sale. But what do “Quality and Compliance” mean, in practice?
- Quality Control Plan: Defining Expectations Before Production – Let’s look at the three types of quality control plans: The product quality control plan to include in a contract with a Chinese supplier, the QC plan for a new product being brought to market, and the process control plan that decomposes production in each process step (often called control plan).
- How Quality Planning Drives QC and Process Improvement – What does quality management consist of? Planning, QC, and improvement. Here is what importers need to consider when setting up a quality assurance program for the products they manufacture in China/Vietnam.
- Example Quality Assurance Plan (for an electronic product) – A Quality Assurance plan will cover all of the above, but how do we structure it for inventors, hardware startups, and SMEs who work with us at Sofeast? Here’s an example.
- What Are Quality Standards? [Podcast] – Renaud explores what quality standards are here. There are different levels, from most basic to advanced…you’ll see how, together, they keep everyone aligned and reduce quality risks from early in your cooperation with a supplier.
- How To Set Up A Process Control Plan [11 Steps] – Your process control plan takes the form of a document that outlines the activities to be taken throughout the production process (for example, performing inspections or checking that the process in question is performing within its required parameters). Learn how to set it up here.
You need to think of potential safety issues that come with your product, based on foreseeable use. And, of course, you need to know what regulations you will have to comply with. If you are not sure, some companies can do a pre-certification review to assure product compliance.
I’ve written about product safety before in these resources (here and on the various Sofeast group blogs):
- Why Product Safety, Quality, and Reliability Are Tightly Linked – Put more effort into assuring the quality and the reliability of your products and it will greatly contribute to their safety. Here’s why and how.
- 11 Common Electronic Product Certification And Compliance Requirements – Let’s take a look into the real world of 11 common compliance requirements for electrical/electronic products and gain further insights into their meanings, methodologies and test requirements in this extremely popular post.
- Common Compliance Gaps & Loopholes With ‘Made In China’ Products [Podcast] – Renaud is joined by Clive Greenwood, an expert in product compliance, to discuss the issues with compliance most importers face, because many people buy products from China (or elsewhere) without checking if they are compliant with their country’s rules and regulations.
- How to Check Material Quality To Ensure Product Safety – Some thoughts on how safe Chinese materials are and how to check them.
- Why Design Defects Are Behind Many Quality/Safety Issues – There is a tendency for inexperienced importers to blame suppliers for all quality and safety issues that come up. However, when something goes wrong it may well be that manufacturing or design defects are the cause.
- Who’s liable for product safety, buyer or manufacturer? [Podcast] – Renaud and guests will dispel some assumptions about who’s liable for product safety and show you how, if you’re an importer, you really need to focus on product testing, compliance, and safety as the penalties can be very stiff indeed!
As I mentioned in one of the posts shared above, quality and reliability contribute to a safe (and compliant) product, so focusing on these topics is a must for importers who’re designing and developing a new product. Indeed, you may choose to instruct your designer to focus on Design for X principles that optimize your new product for these 3 focus topics and this starts the design process off with your goals firmly in mind.
What difficulties did you encounter when designing and bringing a new product to market? Did you end up suffering from problems because one or more of the three topics mentioned here were missed? Let me know your experiences and any questions you might have by leaving a comment or contacting us, thanks!
Don’t forget that you need to make sure that your product design is mature before you start developing it, prototyping, testing, etc.