“Connecting early on with our customers enabled us to thoroughly understand their current and future requirements.” —Wil van den Boogaard, director of operations, Nordson EFD
Formalized process cuts new product development time by 50%
Until recently, Nordson EFD, like a lot of manufacturers, developed new products using processes that were not structured and requirements that were often not well defined.
In 2007, the maker of precision fluid dispensing systems changed that, adopting a common language, a library of tools, and standard work processes and best practices that today help Nordson bring more customer-centric products to market faster and more efficiently.
In place for a year, Nordson’s New Product Development (NPD) Process has proved itself and earned Nordson EFD a 2011 PM100 Award for Innovation Mastery. Not only is time-to-market more than 50% shorter, but sales-to-forecast predictions are more accurate. In addition, fewer design iterations are needed, and initial product quality has improved.
The NPD Process involves all areas of the organization—senior management, manufacturing, engineering, marketing, sales—and often includes vendors. A cross-functional project team with a full-time project manager and its own “war” room is dedicated to each new product. New product ideas are generated and confirmed through customer visits made by engineers, market research personnel, and product line managers.
“Connecting early on with our customers enabled us to thoroughly understand their current and future requirements,” says Wil van den Boogaard, director of operations at Nordson EFD. “This knowledge, combined with close cooperation between our marketing, engineering, operations, and sales departments, enabled us to achieve shorter time to market and increased product acceptance at launch.”
A phase/gate strategy used initially by the Nordson NPD management team to define each phase and deadline for establishing the NPD Process itself continues to be used to keep new product projects on track and within budget.
Financial tools are applied throughout the product development process, as is rigorous testing using Six Sigma tools, risk analysis, and time-to-market studies. Continuous financial review and re-evaluation of the new product’s status at every gate focuses efforts on the products most likely to deliver the highest returns. As a result, products that once might have taken years to bring to market now arrive significantly faster, sometimes in a matter of months.