Product & Process Development

In today’s global competitive and dynamic business environment, the key question is: How should a manufacturing company, one that is primarily based or operates in a high-cost country like Norway, be positioned to become a future winner? The only meaningful answer to this question is to dramatically improve its product and process development capabilities, i.e. the collective set of activities, including  ideation, invention, development and production, needed to bring to the market place a new product that provide more value to customers than alternative offerings. Therefore, a successfully integrated product and process development process represents a fundament for creating a match between an unmet need or problem (customer want), its solution (technology and thing), the human knowledge needed, and the commercially successful use (of the solution) in the market place.

The scope of Research Area 3: Product and Process Development includes methodologies, tools and practices within the fields of New Product Development and Product Innovation.  The overall goal is to create improved understanding of core components and underlying characteristics associated with successful product realizations, including company practices and processes as well as external enablers – ranging from ideation through product development, product launch, delivery, reuse and the total life cycle. The activities are assembled in Work Package 6 Product Realization, which includes the following tasks:

  • T6.1. Enablers for product realization capability and business performance
  • T6.2. Implementation of lean-PD into existing, multidisciplinary and dispersed PD teams

The former includes developing a model for effective New Product Development, along with a major survey in Norwegian manufacturing companies for verification of the model and the impact of various components. The latter includes studying the implementation of so-called lean product development practices in selected companies. These tasks are complemented by research activities complemented by three PhDs and one postdoc. The research activities include studying product development practices in Norwegian manufacturing companies with the goal of establishing best practice.  The first PhD has been focusing on structured methods for continuous improvement in product development and product launch stages, hence supporting both tasks in WP6.  The focal point of the second PhD includes research on how companies can increase competiveness through sustainable product development. Both these PhDs are scheduled to finish in 2012. The third PhD started fall 2011 and will focus on studying product innovation practices with a particular emphasis on early phases such as ideation and concept generation. In the postdoc project, a management perspective has been taken to identify enablers that enhance innovation practice in companies by establishing and reinforcing a culture for innovation, including team behavior, cooperation, and learning, hence supporting especially Task 6.1.