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Lean: A Product Development Perspective

Vijay Katti, G. S. Prakash


Over the past decade, a lot of focus has been laid on reducing waste in the manufacturing process. Concepts of standardized work, Just-in-Time, and quality tools have improved the manufacturing process largely. This, however, seems to be not enough for winning the global market where the consumer’s expectations are changing very rapidly, and rapidly changing technology. This makes the manufacturer who is quick to market and exceeds the customer expectations in terms of quality, cost, and features and at the needed time and location, successful. Therefore, the focus now is not only on the manufacturing processes, but also on how the products are developed. The efficiency and agility in the product development (PD) are a key deciding factor in the success of a company. Lean from a PD perspective looks at two aspects. The first being reducing waste in the development process and the second one being adding value. Reducing waste and increasing value are equally important to be successful in the market. Therefore, lean in PD requires to be seen as a framework of different practices and methods, rather than looking at it as a mean to reduce waste or a cost-cutting initiative. The Lean Product Development System consists of principles, modules and activities that define the entire system for PD. This system supports the new PD process at the companies to efficiently develop the new products. Though there are some adaptations from few companies, there has been very limited research done on the lean system for PD. This paper attempts to explore the applicability of Lean principles from a PD perspective and some tools and methods that can be used during developing new products.

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