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An improved product development process is the key to a resurgence in US ability to develop technologically innovative products. Superior Product Development presents lessons learned by firms whose high-value, robust, timely products have been technical and market successes for students of engineering and business as well as business persons, researchers, and consultants in the field of product development. These lessons - the essential elements of superior product development practice - have been synthesized into a Product Development Process Model that may be used as a process template for professionals or a project handbook for students.During the 1980s, the competitiveness gap between US and foreign competition became truly pervasive. Although US-based firms have regained their world market leadership in most industries, US engineering firms continue to lag Japanese and European competitors in the ability to design and manufacture technologically innovative products. Foreign competitors have not beaten US firms with high technology, but with basic design and engineering practices.
In many cases, US product development efforts are too slow, too expensive, and too often fail to create products with the features, performance, and quality that customers want.Some US firms have responded successfully to the product development challenge presented by world class competitors. The authors have studied actual successful product development case histories involving the development of complex, innovative products. These firms have combined the engineering, manufacturing, and parts purchasing functions into single teams that value the successful production of a high-value product over all other functional objectives.
Clement C. Wilson is Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Michael E. Kennedy is Graduate Research Fellow. Carmen J. Trammell is a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science. All at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA.