Innovation is a never ending source of potential breakthroughs for manufacturers. There are so many benefits that come along with turning a good idea into a successful invention that it’s no wonder many manufacturers are constantly designing their new products from scratch to benefit themselves within their particular field. But many manufacturers aren’t aware of how to optimize this process so that they waste the least amount of money and get the most benefit. For example, a large number of manufacturers don’t invest much time or money in creating prototypes.
Prototyping is a unique asset for manufacturers when it comes to realizing a specific market goal. It’s no secret that the companies which don’t neglect the prototyping stage of innovation are often far better off than those who do. It makes them better prepared to take on the new challenges that can arise. The following are five reasons why prototyping has a positive effect on your bottom line.
Learn Accurate Requirements
Manufacturing projects designed around innovation have a tendency to spiral way out of control when project requirements are not fully understood. Most companies will hire focus groups and conduct interviews to get information on the requirements of their potential products, but this can often be inaccurate.
By prototyping to give focus group participants a real product to interact with and touch greatly increases the usefulness of their feedback. Their responses will tend to become far more detailed, which is what saves money in the long run. Furthermore, when you near the end of the innovation process and are running a final round of focus group tests, you will need prototypes anyway, so why not make their development a priority even earlier and use this type of valuable feedback to improve a product as much as possible before it reaches the final stages of innovation?
Solve Design Conflicts
Depending on how many engineers are working on a project and how confident they are with respect to their abilities, there are bound to be a lot of design conflicts in which one engineer has a differing opinion from another regarding how a product should be built, particularly when electronics are involved. This is no doubt a sign that you have a good team of enthusiastic engineers, but it can also slow down, and sometimes even derail, the design process.
Prototyping can provide your engineers with a way to test and prove or disprove their theories and, therefore, move the process along much faster.
Early Failure is Less Expensive
Failures are not the favorite part of any manufacture’s innovation process, but they are bound to happen. Rather than having a disaster like a PCB failure happen in the later stages of development, it’s much more beneficial to fail early. In this way you can test out ideas before investing too much money.
You’ll Have More Time to Learn About the Technology
Forcing yourself or your team to design an actual prototype is how you learn about all the challenges to success and their potential solutions. When you’re able to anticipate the challenges you will face, you can adjust to address them before releasing a new product. You certainly don’t want to release a product only to discover a challenge you could have predicted and then wish you had implemented a certain feature.
File Patents Quickly
The longer you take to file a patent on your idea, the more chance there is of it getting stolen and your having to enter into a costly lawsuit or legal battle. If you develop a prototype, your idea is no longer just intellectual property, and you can get a patent on it, which is much harder to dispute in court.
The road from conceptualizing a product to commercializing it is very long and filled with many twists and turns, as well as plenty of obstacles to overcome. For manufacturers who want to gain an advantage in the manufacturing process, early prototyping can create one of the biggest advantages you can have over your competition. Having early prototypes allows the opportunity to flesh out ideas, anticipate challenges, and fail early, so you don’t end up failing when it counts.
Indeed, its not surprising that top manufacturers invest heavily in prototyping as a way to achieve better legal standing when it comes to patents and ultimately making far more money than the cost of early prototypes.