Visual quality and sustainability considerations in tolerance optimization: A market-based approach
Journal article, 2015
During the late stages of product development, dimensional tolerances are chosen to balance quality requirements with manufacturing costs. Designers typically judge how much variation in the product dimensions should be allowed while still maintaining the perception of high quality for the product or brand, but this is rarely based on a quantitative understanding of how consumers actually perceive variation and quality. Likewise, environmental sustainability priorities, which can also be affected by dimensional tolerances through production waste and product lifespan, are often chosen without knowing how such attributes are received by consumers. This paper presents a survey-based technique for understanding how tolerance and pricing decisions influence market demand and manufacturer profits, accounting for consumer perceptions of visual quality and environmental friendliness. A case study of a mobile phone design is explored, including variation propagation simulation, manufacturing cost and environmental impact estimation, online choice-based conjoint (CBC) survey design and administration, consumer demand model construction, and profit maximization for the markets in China, Sweden, and the United States. The results show how consumers make trade-offs in purchasing decisions when choosing among mobile phone attributes including price, environmental friendliness, and visual quality, and different scenarios are compared based on survey design, country of interest, and the company's global product strategy.
Design for sustainability