ABOUT PROOF-OF-CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT
Much of the work and effort I have been involved with is proof-of-concept development. Many times it is not known whether a product concept will work or is practical, and it is difficult to gain confidence in the theoretical projections of feasibility. In these cases it is essential to rapidly develop a proof-of-concept model that can perform the desired function in the real world environment. This must be done in a competent and repeatable manner. A rugged field testable breadboard allows project concepts to be evaluated and proved-in in a real world environment. Sometimes, in the process of this type of development, it is learned that the original concept is flawed and will not work as conceived. However, as a result of pursuing the development, new ideas surface that result in feasibility of the project. If the original concept cannot be salvaged, that in itself is very valuable information, and the sooner and most cost effectively that can be determined, the better it is for all concerned.
Proof-of-Concept vs. Design-for-Manufacture Development
A design-for-manufacture model is built from a design intended for manufacture of the product. A proof-of-concept model is built to demonstrate and prove-in the features of the product in a rapid, economical and rugged manner.
Why are Proof-of-Concept Models Important?
In most companies, the design of a product for manufacture involves many people with diverse skills and talents. The challenge is to manage those skills effectively such that a manufacturable and profitable product results in a reasonable and predictable time. This sort of effort is much more manageable if the major unknowns have been determined. Then, clear objectives can be defined with a reasonable expectation that they will be met. A factor that has been termed "creeping featurism" interferes setting those clear objectives. In other words, the definition of the product is being constantly revised as the product is being developed.
A proof-of-concept model gives marketing something to work with and shape before the design-for-manufacture phase begins. I firmly believe, that for most products, skipping the proof-of-concept model is costly and results in a product less suited for the marketplace, even given tight time-to-market requirements. The problem is that most large organizations are ill equipped to do proof-of-concept work. The disciplines necessary for good proof-of-concept development conflict with the set of disciplines necessary for good design-for-manufacture development. In many cases 80% of the proof-of-concept model are directly translatable to the design-for-manufacture model.
Are Proof-of-Concept Models cost effective?
Unfortunately, many times it is successfully argued that the two operations be combined. Why waste money with a proof-of-concept model when what is wanted is a design-for-manufacture model as soon as possible? This is a good question. When the product and the technology are well defined, a proof-of-concept model may well be a waste of money. However, if you are expanding technology in your product line and pushing the frontier, a proof-of-concept model is very cost effective. In a design-for-manufacture model, the designer is constrained in many ways, and each decision must be thought through thoroughly to assure a manufacturable and cost effective design. This is essential to design-for-manufacture and precisely contrary to an effective proof-of-concept design. The proof-of-concept model allows the opportunity to explore new technologies that would be foolhardy for the design-for-manufacture model. Also, there is a different mindset for the proof-of-concept developer and the design-for-manufacture developer. It is hoped that the design-for-manufacture developer will be conservative, orderly, and will pay close attention to detail. With the proof-of-concept developer, the focus will be on function, timeliness, and verification. The proof-of-concept model doesn't have to be perfect or manufacturable, it has to prove the concept in the minimum amount of time. Most of the time, the proof-of-concept model can be readily translated into a design-for-manufacture model with a minimum of effort and usually with significant improvements as a result of the experience gained.
TELI is skilled at proof-of-concept model development. TELI has the skills, the tools, and the mindset to effectively produce proof-of-concept models.