Post 436 – by Gautam Shah
A product is born through improvisations, and rarely through sudden ‘eureka discovery. During the last few centuries, a series of products has been ‘improvised’ upon the existing ones. Many of these products were very successful ones in the market, and to remain steps ahead of competitors had to be continuously upgraded. One needs to be aware of how others are innovating with radical technologies, styles, additional functional provisions, compactness, energy efficiencies, superior handling, ease of repair and servicing. And one had to absorb these and deliver it fast.
One of the Technics of Design or the Design Process is Redesign or Re-engineering. Most products, however claimed to be original, are only improved versions of some existing thing or a Redesign. This is a well accepted design process for products’ development. It has perhaps, a little less relevance in design processes of unique or first ever systems, such as Civil structures and Architectural entities.
Manufacturers need to design new products and launch them before their competitors do. Redesign or Re-engineering is used for product development for Automobiles, `white goods’, office equipments, etc. For this markets are continuously surveyed to find out the features that make certain products leaders in the market. An attempt is made to absorb and improvise such features. As one is working with a successful subsystem, the chances of its failure are less. Redesign generates a product in its new Avatar.
Redesign addresses to deficiencies of aging technologies, fast changing tastes and varying operative conditions of products. It gives very specific clues which new features are accepted, and which are the emergent styles and technologies. It also allows faster incorporation of new technologies, as offered by inventors. New products are launched with minimum changes to existing tools and plant. Workers only need to upgrade their skills, and new employees or new training schedules are not required. The improvised product has slight familiarity with the existing range, and as a result comfort of acceptance is high.
Redesign practitioners operate with notions that:
● A whole system is divisible into subsystems, each of which can be improvised.
● These subsystems can be improved in-house, but technologically better solutions can be developed by others, so identify them and collaborate to resource such emergent solutions.
● It is more efficient to redesign or re-engineer a known system, then go into basic research to discover a new entity.
● A product of redesign process has fewer chances of failure, because one is improvising upon a working system.
● Transfer or absorption of new Technologies is very fast.
Redesign processes have few negative features. Redesign processes require many field surveys for identification of a market leader product. The field data is often so enormous and with minor or rare variants that it may require complex statistical processing. Very often feedback from consumers is subjective in nature. There is a distinct danger for the design leader/ team to get entangled in the data collection and interpretation work at the cost of essential design clarity and creativity. Redesigned products have to be very careful about infringing intellectual property rights of others. It is also extremely difficult to secure patents, copyrights, etc. for such fast developing line of products.
Organizations, that deal in very competitive markets, prefer redesign processes as it allows them to continuously update their product with minimum of risks.
Japan perfected the process and achieved distinctive product design solutions in early 1960s. Sony music system Walkman has evolved from such efforts. At that point of time taped music systems were very bulky and weighed very heavy. To enjoy the hi-fi sound quality outdoors it had large sized twin speakers (these were often called Ghetto or Beachfront blasters). A new Walkman delivered the sound directly to the ears, through earplugs as speakers. The tape decks had open spool type tapes, but the Walkman had smaller cassette type tape system. The compact unit now worked on micro motors operated by smaller batteries (lasting eight instead of two hours). It was a redesigned entity that became a very innovative product.