How to Use a Product Design Specification to Maximise Your Chances of Success

Creating a product design specification with open book and colour samples

Preparing Your Product Blueprint

At D2M we understand what it takes to propel your innovative ideas from concept to market with speed whilst managing your risk. An important step in this journey is developing a product design specification, as this helps you to ensure that every unit is made to exact standards — and that you maintain high quality across batches. It is also critical to avoid expensive mis-communication with your manufacturing partners.

With large capital expenditure, there’s a lot at stake if you don’t get it right. Fortunately, D2M has developed a streamlined system that helps to identify potential bottlenecks so that you aren’t caught off-guard later when in production. We also provide specs that are closely tailored to your needs and outline critical standards that your products must adhere to.

In today’s blog we explain the nature of this document in more detail, what it involves, and what the benefits are for you. But first let’s start with a simple case study.

Product Design Specification Case Study

Equerry is a product that shines shoes fast and without mess. It has a battery, motor and polish tube inside. The specification didn’t need to dimension every part of the casing because the CAD files provide that detail anyway. But it need to list out the various components and detail which parts were to be made in what material and also the specs for the internal components. For example the torque (turning power) of the motor, the gearbox ratio so that the brush spun at the right speed and the details of the materials for the bristles. Boar hair would have been premium but expensive and so a suitable synthetic alternative was specified.

Without the detail in the specification the manufacturer might have provided the product with a battery than ran out after only one shoe cleaning session; they might have put a rough ugly surface finish on the product rather than the aesthetically pleasing satin finish that we specified or they might have quoted for a basic cardboard box rather than the beautiful presentation box that helps Equerry become a gift purchase.

The trick with a product design specification is to specify just enough information that you get the right quality product back without restricting the manufacturer too much so that your cost are too high. Again using Equerry as an example, we could have specified a particular German made motor rather than simply specifying the correct torque. That choice would than doubled the unit cost but giving the manufacturer the option to find a local supplier with a similar power motor we met the client’s cost expectations.

The specification also mentioned the required motor life and quality assurance testing that was required to ensure that the motor selection was still at the required quality standard for a premium product. You can buy Equerry here: Equerry Shine Website

What is a Product Design Specification?

Creating a product design specification with open book and colour samples

A product design specification or PDS (also known as a manufacturing specification) is a comprehensive document that provides detailed instructions on the creation of your product, whether it’s hard goods (like tools, handheld electronics, or kitchen utensils) or textiles such as garments or bags. It’s effectively your product’s DNA.

If your project is pre-dominantly made of metal, plastic or wood, the document will provide comprehensive detail on these materials, assembly instructions, tolerances, and finishing details like coatings or paints. For textile-based products, the document will cover fabric types, stitching techniques, label placement, colour codes, and washing instructions.

The cost varies depending on the level of product complexity, but you can expect to pay between £1500 and £4500 for a basic manufacturing specification. Our own service is an agile, cost-effective solution that ensures all the vital components of your product are meticulously communicated.

Why This Service is Crucial for Your Project

40% of products survive in the market, and only 60% of those generate revenue, according to the Marketing Research Association. This shows why it’s so necessary to get things right the first time around.

A PDS can help you to achieve:

  1. Consistency Across Production Lines. Every product iteration should reflect your vision. Specs ensure that your product is replicated accurately across batches, maintaining a consistent quality that will impress your customers.
  2. Clear Communication. Product design specifications are presented in the universal language of clear unambiguous drawings, for the most part, addressing potential misunderstandings and capturing nuances so that you can work effectively with manufacturers both at home and overseas.
  3. Cost Management. Use your specs to define cost ceilings for both raw materials and production processes, avoiding costly reworks and revisions, and preventing overspend in areas that don’t affect your bottom line.
  4. Ensuring Compliance and Safety. Our specs define safety, performance, and compliance requirements to ensure that your final products meet internal and regulatory standards without exception.

Why Opt for a Basic Specification Over a Detailed One?

D2M’s basic service is designed to help you communicate your concept without overburdening the manufacturer with excessive detail. Often, you know that you can safely do without the exhaustive and costly minutiae of every possible dimension and drawing. It’s not uncommon that manufacturers rely on a provided CAD model or the textile prototype.

What’s different about our basic manufacturing specification service is that it’s centred around you—your needs, your ideals, and your product’s success. We’re here to ensure your project has a clear, succinct, and well-defined roadmap. It’s a pragmatic method for avoiding planned and unplanned downtime, controlling your budget, reducing waste, and hitting your deadlines.

Find out more about how we can help your create a manufacturing specification for your product.

What Does the Process Involve?

Discussing the product design specification with a client

Step 1: Preparation and Data Collection

The first step in the manufacturing specification process focuses on gathering comprehensive details about the intended product. This involves:

  • Client Consultation: We start with an in-depth discussion to understand your ideas and your requirements for the product. This consultation provides insight into ad hoc changes and clarity as to your expectations regarding the manufactured product. Batch sizes, quality level, durability, warranties and product life are all part of the conversation.
  • Material and Component Identification: Based on the analysis, we identify suitable materials and components. For apparel, this could involve selecting fabric types, threads, zip, and more. For hardgoods, this might involve determining the best materials for durability, aesthetics, and functionality, or reviewing the best options for your surface finishes.

With these details established, it’s time to structure the data in a straightforward, concise format that can be easily understood by your contacts at the factory.

Step 2: Drafting the Manufacturing Specification

This stage is dedicated to translating the gathered data into a comprehensive document that manufacturers can rely on:

  • Bill of Materials (BOM): The BOM lists every material, component, accessory and process required to make your product. It includes part names and numbers, product descriptions, and quantities. Having this information helps you avoid the risk of material wastage or supply chain delays.

For apparel, it might include fabrics, buttons, threads, and embellishments. For hardgoods, it would typically detail parts, screws, and adhesives. A multi-level BOM (also called a parent-child BOM or indented BOM) shows the relationship between components, subassemblies, and assemblies.

  • Technical Details: The specs include technical sketches that depict the product from various angles. These sketches, typically created using tools like Adobe Illustrator for apparel or CAD software for hardgoods, help the manufacturer to make revenue-critical decisions..
  • Assembly and Construction: Your document will describe the steps, techniques, and standards expected in the assembly process. For garments, this might cover sewing instructions. For metal and plastic products, it might include exploded views. All instructions are clear and logical.
  • Quality and Performance Metrics: Specs establish the benchmarks for product quality and performance. This helps the manufacturer to quickly get to grips with your expectations and align their processes accordingly. If necessary, QA and QC specialists will conduct further work here.

Step 3: Review, Refinement and Finalisation

The concluding step ensures that the manufacturing specification is complete, accurate, and ready to send to the factory:

  1. Internal Review: Senior designers at D2M provide additional feedback, ensuring that the specification aligns with industry best practices and standards.
  2. Client Review: We present the draft specification to the client for your feedback. This collaborative approach ensures that the document aligns with your goals and expectations.
  3. Integration of Feedback: The team integrates your feedback and revises the specification accordingly, optimising it for accuracy and clarity, and perfecting the final document.
  4. Finalisation and Delivery: When we have settled on a comprehensive specification, we convert it into a professional, accessible PDF format. It’s now ready for manufacturers to provide relevant quotes.

Risk Mitigation

Product design mockup showing an exploded view

We know entrepreneurs invest a great deal of money into new product launches, but also their time, hopes, and aspirations. That’s why our manufacturing specification service was conceived with a firm objective in mind — to reduce the likelihood of manufacturing errors, helping you maintain your brand reputation.

By establishing standards and expectations, D2M makes sure that you are properly equipped for your negotiations with manufacturers. When your specification is sufficiently robust, you are in a stronger position to get the best value for your investment, without compromising on product quality or integrity.

Are you ready to exceed industry standards and eliminate production errors, while keeping firmly on budget and on schedule?

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Bonus 40min extended case-study video!