The Importance of Concept Generation

By: Ehsan Abedi
Product Designer, Product Design

28th November 2018

Home » Ehsan Abedi

In a modern world, people are often overloaded with information and new products. Effective concept generation allows for the exploration of new ideas that are both novel, commercially successful and of value to the user.

Concept generation is a vital part of the engineering design process. This comes early on in the product design or design engineering process and is essentially a procedure that begins with a range of technical requirements and user considerations. It ends with a multitude of product concept designs.

There were several interactions I had throughout the recent Engineering Design Show which highlighted the importance of concept generation within the modern design process. In a conversation with a manufacturing company based in Hong Kong, they expressed their frustration with receiving part designs which were often incompatible with each other or whole products that are almost impossible to manufacture without significant modification. With better implementation of concept generation and selection, these issues would be less likely to be encountered at such a late stage in the design engineering process, saving companies time and money.

This was further highlighted in Steve May-Russell’s talk on design thinking where he demonstrated that for every 50 concepts there are 10 that successfully meet the whole design brief. Of that 10 it is likely that only 2 would go on to be the successful product.

These interactions clearly indicate the job of a designer is not only to rapidly generate a range of feasible product design concepts but also have the ability to effectively select and develop the best concepts further.

The next time you find yourself tackling a problem ask yourself, “how many alternative ways can I think of solving this issue?” and then think which idea is most effective. It is unlikely to be the first one that popped into your head…

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In a modern world, people are often overloaded with information and new products. Effective concept generation allows for the exploration of new ideas that are both novel, commercially successful and of value to the user.

Concept generation is a vital part of the engineering design process. This comes early on in the product design or design engineering process and is essentially a procedure that begins with a range of technical requirements and user considerations. It ends with a multitude of product concept designs.

There were several interactions I had throughout the recent Engineering Design Show which highlighted the importance of concept generation within the modern design process. In a conversation with a manufacturing company based in Hong Kong, they expressed their frustration with receiving part designs which were often incompatible with each other or whole products that are almost impossible to manufacture without significant modification. With better implementation of concept generation and selection, these issues would be less likely to be encountered at such a late stage in the design engineering process, saving companies time and money.

This was further highlighted in Steve May-Russell’s talk on design thinking where he demonstrated that for every 50 concepts there are 10 that successfully meet the whole design brief. Of that 10 it is likely that only 2 would go on to be the successful product.

These interactions clearly indicate the job of a designer is not only to rapidly generate a range of feasible product design concepts but also have the ability to effectively select and develop the best concepts further.

The next time you find yourself tackling a problem ask yourself, “how many alternative ways can I think of solving this issue?” and then think which idea is most effective. It is unlikely to be the first one that popped into your head…

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Further Reading

A Look Back in Events: Engineering Design Show 2018

A Look Back in Events: Engineering Design Show 2018

By: Ehsan Abedi
Product Designer

24th October 2018

Home » Ehsan Abedi

The Engineering Design Show (EDS) exhibition was packed with over 220 exhibitors offering different areas of expertise and services. Being Plextek’s first time attending the show as exhibitors we were keen to show our creative and technical capabilities, observe how the industry is changing and exemplify how we can help others adapt to these changes.

Power of being genuine

As designers and engineers at Plextek, we are rarely involved in selling our capabilities but this proved to be of our benefit at the engineering design show. A lot of industry events are filled with slick salesmen who can sometimes intimidate or detract attention of designers, engineers and others looking to solve their own problems. As individuals untrained in selling, I found that by simply being our natural selves we felt that people at the show could chat to us genuinely and naturally on a range of matters.

We had great pleasure in meeting many like-minded engineers and designers which we hope to collaborate with. And they themselves faced a massive variety of problems, in everything from developing new wind farm technology to difficulties in intricate medical device development.

Breadth and depth in design & development

Plextek’s capabilities across the whole design and development process and history of working in a diverse range of sectors mean that we were able to interact with a lot of people at the show and think which experts within Plextek would be able to help them overcome their specific issues.


So how is the design engineering industry changing?

With a diverse range of exhibitors, workshops and conferences at the Engineering Design Show, it was possible to make observations on how the industry is changing.

Rate of change

Many people I met at EDS thought that the current rate of technological change is beginning to exceed our ability to adapt. This signifies how important it is for companies to implement a collaborative approach and ensure they are able to evolve and adapt to these rapid changes.

Automation

The technology on show at EDS demonstrated some of the major advances being made in automation. There was a range of mechatronic devices on show and it is easy to see how these technologies could be implemented within robotics and for the automation of more production processes.

Newer and more effective rapid prototyping technologies were also on show, which are continually making it cheaper and easier to rapidly design and test ideas to help inform the usability of the final products.

User Centric Design

Whether it is a small component being optimised for assembly or a final product optimised for comfort and usability, user centred design is clearly becoming more prevalent.

Designers in close contact to users are likely to build a sense of empathy for their users and hence develop more pleasing products.

The implementation of user centred design methods means products: reduce misuse, are safer to use and meet a user’s expectations and requirements. This in turn can lead to increased product sales and a reduction in the costs incurred by customer services.

Source: http://www.engineering-design-show.co.uk/gallery/

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The Engineering Design Show (EDS) exhibition was packed with over 220 exhibitors offering different areas of expertise and services. Being Plextek’s first time attending the show as exhibitors we were keen to show our creative and technical capabilities, observe how the industry is changing and exemplify how we can help others adapt to these changes.

Power of being genuine

As designers and engineers at Plextek, we are rarely involved in selling our capabilities but this proved to be of our benefit at the engineering design show. A lot of industry events are filled with slick salesmen who can sometimes intimidate or detract attention of designers, engineers and others looking to solve their own problems. As individuals untrained in selling, I found that by simply being our natural selves we felt that people at the show could chat to us genuinely and naturally on a range of matters.

We had great pleasure in meeting many like-minded engineers and designers which we hope to collaborate with. And they themselves faced a massive variety of problems, in everything from developing new wind farm technology to difficulties in intricate medical device development.

Breadth and depth in design & development

Plextek’s capabilities across the whole design and development process and history of working in a diverse range of sectors mean that we were able to interact with a lot of people at the show and think which experts within Plextek would be able to help them overcome their specific issues.


So how is the design engineering industry changing?

With a diverse range of exhibitors, workshops and conferences at the Engineering Design Show, it was possible to make observations on how the industry is changing.

Rate of change

Many people I met at EDS thought that the current rate of technological change is beginning to exceed our ability to adapt. This signifies how important it is for companies to implement a collaborative approach and ensure they are able to evolve and adapt to these rapid changes.

Automation

The technology on show at EDS demonstrated some of the major advances being made in automation. There was a range of mechatronic devices on show and it is easy to see how these technologies could be implemented within robotics and for the automation of more production processes.

Newer and more effective rapid prototyping technologies were also on show, which are continually making it cheaper and easier to rapidly design and test ideas to help inform the usability of the final products.

User Centric Design

Whether it is a small component being optimised for assembly or a final product optimised for comfort and usability, user centred design is clearly becoming more prevalent.

Designers in close contact to users are likely to build a sense of empathy for their users and hence develop more pleasing products.

The implementation of user centred design methods means products: reduce misuse, are safer to use and meet a user’s expectations and requirements. This in turn can lead to increased product sales and a reduction in the costs incurred by customer services.

Source: http://www.engineering-design-show.co.uk/gallery/

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Further Reading