Five Ways To Turn R&D Into Production
It’s no coincidence that the most successful and innovative organisations are also the leading investors in research and development (R&D). One of our former customers, Dyson, unveiled plans last November to invest £1 billion in R&D with Sir James Dyson explaining: “Our growth is fuelled by technology and we are thinking long-term but we must relentlessly invent – that’s why we are investing in our research footprint in the UK”. We at Fascia agree that continuous investment in development is key to remaining an industry leader. To do this, we apply the following five steps to every project during the early R&D phase:
Invest - Research and development in any organisation requires funds to acquire materials, build prototypes, conduct trials and studies, and to pay the wages of the employees working in R&D. Many companies set a target of around 3 per cent of sales to invest in R&D.
Stay focused - Regardless of how much we may choose to spend, these funds need to be concentrated around your “big bets” and projects with a high probability of success. For instance, if you were to invest £100,000 into 100 different projects that leaves £1,000 per project – not enough to get you anywhere. By contrast, if you invest that same money into your top five ideas, the £20,000 per project will enable you to identify the one or two that you are going to launch into the market.
Think outside the box, but weigh up your options - As new technologies develop, electronics manufacturers look towards the most appropriate user interfaces for their products. They are left to weigh up whether to continue to use tried and tested products, such as membrane keypads, or put their faith in new applications like touchscreen technology. However, the latest shiny technology may not be the right choice. For instance, membranes are often more durable, resistant to bacteria, cost effective, and also provide businesses with a greater opportunity for custom design, so be careful not to be attracted by the shiny lights of the new kid on the block.
Turn to specialists - At Fascia Graphics, when we are faced with a challenge in the R&D phase of a project, we first involve our technical engineers, but we also utilise the expertise of our suppliers. Our approach to sourcing the best materials and adhesives in the industry, means that we also have the most skilled and knowledgeable experts to turn to for advice and guidance whenever required. Their input can be invaluable, proposing solutions which will inevitably save both time and money.
Ensure that you can test and prototype quickly - In virtually any technology or product development realm, there is a natural need for the design team to have the ability to prototype and test ideas. To do this, you need to ensure that your teams have access to the right equipment so you can test and prove theories and ideas. The active word here is access. This is not to say that you should invest all your money in a state-of-the-art 3D printer for every office, or spend all of your cash reserves on a special piece of machinery that you will use in rare circumstances. But it does mean you should invest wisely in new equipment as well as provision time and capacity within your standard production for the ability to develop prototypes. This is particularly useful when you’re developing a complex product. For instance, we recently worked on developing a form of embossing for a customer that had never been done before. As prototyping comes with a no upfront tooling costs, it can be considerably cheaper, and also this allowed us to produce a number of prototypes for the customer to test.
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