Your idea is becoming a reality! The funding has arrived (just in time…), the focus groups loved the concepts, and the prototypes are finally working (mostly). It’s time to get working on the production version and start selling. But here are some steps that if skipped can significantly delay production:
1.) Skip the Requirements Review: Everyone knows the requirements…don’t they? After all, they’ve been working shoulder-to-shoulder for months and months. So there is no need to go over the detailed requirements and waste days of precious time. But a mis-communication between disciplines can cost months of redesign and an inventory of useless products. Have the requirements been recorded somewhere, spelling out exactly what the product will do and will not do? A great place to start is the Advertising Brochure, or the proposed video demonstration of the product. Make sure the designers agree with the sales team! Add to this the environmental specificationsâ€”indoors, outdoors, battery and power ranges, rain and humidity, countries of distribution. Is there a warranty, or any expectation of ongoing support? Does the hardware contain hazardous materials that require special handling for recycling? Does the software require training, periodic upgrades, support for multiple languages. It is a good idea to get everyone involved together for a few days to review one more time exactly what the product is and is not. Then, of course, schedule Design Reviews for both the Hardware and Software, to make sure they meet the Requirements!
2.) Ignore Safety Concerns: If the product is aimed at children, then the safety reviews are probably already built in to the design. But if the product will be used at home, it is still a good idea to have an outside review by experts to make sure that it can meet today’s expectations. Get Underwriter’s Laboratories or the equivalent involved before you release the design to production, or else a redesign may be required.
3.) Ignore the FCC: If the designers are well versed in meeting the FCC regulations for radiated and conducted emissions, then there is a good chance your product will pass the testing on the first pass prototype. If they are not, or you are taking chances with a 2-layer pc board and some microprocessor circuitry, then a preliminary scan at an authorized FCC test facility could prevent a last minute redesign. Any device with external wire ports for chargers, sensors, Ethernet, or USB is likely to fail the first time unless the designers are highly experienced.
4.) Handle with Care: Everything works great; the hardware team has tested all the hardware functions, the software team has checked and rechecked the software. What could go wrong? Actually, nothing can go wrong, as long as only skilled people familiar with the product do the testing. But in real life, users drop things, leave them in a hot car, bring them from a cold car into a humid house, zap them in a dry house, spill liquids on them, plug in attachments in the wrong order, push buttons in the wrong order, and charge devices during a thunderstorm. And in the factory delicate boards get handled carelessly, mistakes happen in assembly, programming gets interrupted, and on and on. It pays to abuse your product before you start shipping, to make sure it has robust software and hardware. If your team can tell lots of ‘war stories’ of how factories and customers broke things, then you know what to do. If not, consider bringing in some outside expertise to point you in the right direction.
5.) Last Minute Shopping: The most common delay to Production is not having all the components needed. These can be the electronic parts that go on the printed circuit board, accessory cables and chargers, printed manuals, packaging materials, factory test and programming setups, software licenses, and trained personnel to handle it all. An earlier Design Review should have listed the components that are at risk for long lead time or single source, and contingency plans made. Design changes near Production should be evaluated for delay risk. Close contact with the factory personnel will ensure they are ready, and their own checklist is complete.
MSRK Design can help you with any or all of these important tasks to help you get into production with your great idea.