Whether in the industrial sphere or other sectors, many start-ups are keen to present their finished solution as quickly as possible. But such a strategy often forces project leaders to forego key considerations such as cost and reliability. Adopting an MVP strategy (Minimum Viable Product) will help you to limit such risks.
MVP involves prioritising the speed at which your product is developed, helping to reduce your time to market. For this, forget all about a perfect, fully-finished product and focus instead on a simplified version. Leave out everything other than its essential features, those which are central to your product. This will reduce both your time to market and your development costs.
Start-ups are now aware of the benefits of bringing out an initial product with limited features, but they don’t always think of applying this same concept to the process itself.
Think streamlined, think process
Can the MVP concept be extended into the industrial sphere? Imagine we were to implement a minimum viable process (MVPc), i.e. a streamlined process capable of performing the task. This approach, which involves beginning with a minimum process and developing it over the course of the project, is actually quite common in the business world. The first people involved in the project will be highly-qualified and will be given little in the way of assistance. As production volumes increase and with a need to reduce costs, operators will be given more assistance from robots.
Follow your market and repeat!
Early production must be completely overhauled as the project progresses and volumes and costs change.
This iterative approach is the only way to limit the tricky investments that start-ups have to make. There are many examples of this involving mechatronic products. In mechanics, for instance, plastic parts can be made using 3D printing, followed by machining, moulding, etc. But it isn’t enough simply to list these solutions. You need to be aware of the relevant costs and constraints for each of them. A given solution might be the best option for one stage, only to be found to be unsuitable as quantities increase.
In electronics there is a wide range of iterations for cable bundles: manual/automatic brazing, manual/automatic crimping, etc. An in-depth knowledge of the technical and economic differences between these solutions will help to engage the next iteration.
Designing processes means making compromises
The design and development of processes has a significant impact on timeframes and costs, meaning these have to be factored in when choosing solutions in order to strike the best possible balance at each stage of the project. If a process is expensive but necessary for a product, could the product be redesigned? If a process takes long to design and execute, could a suitable alternative be found for a limited period of time? You have to weigh up the pros and cons in terms of client value and profitability. You can, of course, decide to opt for voluntarily negative profitability, when you know that your manufacturing process is too costly for the quantity you are looking to produce, but you also know that, in the medium to long term, the volume effect will offset any losses.