TUTCRIS - Tampereen teknillinen yliopisto


Incremental innovation method for technical concept development with multi-disciplinary products



KustantajaTampere University of Technology
ISBN (elektroninen)978-952-15-2326-7
ISBN (painettu)978-952-15-2306-9
TilaJulkaistu - 29 tammikuuta 2010
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG4 Monografiaväitöskirja


NimiTampere University of Technology. Publication
KustantajaTampere University of Technology
ISSN (painettu)1459-2045


Product development and innovations play an essential role in enabling enterprises to be continually competitive and profitable. However, even though numerous processes and methodologies have been developed for creating new artefacts; there is a paradox with regard to their applicability in industry; business drivers in industry strive to extend the life cycle of products with incremental development, while the main focus in literature strongly emphasizes the introduction of new products. In addition, the context of innovation in the language of business has become more of a marketing slogan than something that really does represent newness or differentiation from what has been before. This may be confusing for a product developer, who struggles with numerous contradictory stakeholder aspects and requirements. Being crucial to the product origination process, developers search for practical methods and tools to evaluate, compare and justify their selections and decisions on various technical issues. The challenge facing developers is daunting as they must have the capability to interpret needs and requirements into a technical format and introduce innovative solutions. Successful opportunity identification, idea creation and innovations form a path whereby an enterprise can keep its position in a marketplace. However, continuous technological development in different disciplines and their implementation into one technical system has challenged generic product development methods because product functions are now often executed with complex sub-system integrations. The increasing number of developers and disciplines in product development teams therefore calls for a better means of communication in order to share information about how total function behaviour can be accomplished. The approach of this study is technical and has been initiated from a product developer’s point of view. The problem and challenges inherent to incremental development are presented and are set against the theories and methods in the relevant literature. A constructive research method is applied to develop an understanding about product value creation, multi-disciplinary concepts and innovation. Based on industrial case studies, a new method has been developed to enable a more systematic method of opportunity identification and idea creation for the incremental development of multi-disciplinary technical concepts. The core of the new method is the identification of the function execution chain, which, in particular in multi-disciplinary products, may involve numerous consecutive events in different sub-systems and disciplines. The opportunity identification explores the possibilities to change the operating principle of the technical transformation processes by utilizing integrations that come from several disciplines. Ideas and innovations are generated by individuals and an explicit idea generating method is implausible. The method presented here deeply acknowledges the necessity of human creativity during the innovation process. However, the intention here is to enable the use and sharing of existing information in a development team to be utilized as a context sensitive stimulus to identify possible seed ideas for innovations. The approach of the study and case studies comes from a manufacturing company, whose products are multi-disciplinary and tailored materials handling equipment at the static concept stage. The applicability of the newly developed method has shown promising results and thus requires further evaluation and development for other types of products and technical systems.


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