Your Complete NPI Guidebook Is Here
New Product Introduction (NPI) refers to the transition stage from design to manufacturing. It can be chaotic and overwhelming due to the amount of intertwined and sticky tasks it contains if you don’t carefully plan it out ahead. But don’t you worry about it with the help of this complete NPI Guidebook.
Please note that NPI for hardware products and software products are slightly different. In this article, we will focus on New Product Introduction for hardware products only.
New Product Introduction (NPI) Process
Typically, NPI has 4 stages, and ideally, they will happen linearly. Let’s go through them one by one.
Finalize DFM and confirm supply chain
Usually, NPI happens after the completion of the design phase. Before you speed up and move the project forward to the manufacturing process, make sure to take your time and conduct DFM.
The importance of DFM cannot be emphasized enough, not only because it helps you spend your money and time more wisely, but also it puts your product to the test of real-world problems, for example, features, and parts that cannot be mass-produced, before meeting your customers. Check out this article to learn how to conduct your DFM.
After you complete the DFM, you should have a clear understanding of all the materials and components you need for manufacturing. Now it’s time to find yourself some suppliers and build a supply chain for the approaching manufacturing process.
Define Manufacturing, Assembling, Testing and Calibration
In this stage, you will need to focus on preparing definitions and fixtures of manufacturing, assembling, testing, and calibration. Clearly defining all these parts will lay a solid foundation for the sample testing and validation stages and more.
Documentation during this stage is essential but underestimated too often. It serves the purposes as references and guidelines for your teams to check and follow through.
Build all the samples you need for testing
Typically, there are 5 types of samples you will need to create for the upcoming tests in the following phase including Engineering Validation Test (EVT) samples, Design Verification Test (DVT) samples, Production Validation Test (PVT) samples, Salesman samples and Certification samples. Before the validation phase begins, it’s better if you could have all the samples standby. Ask your teams to provide an estimated number of samples they will need for this stage based on various types of tests.
Test, test and more tests
As we mentioned beforehand, this phase is all about tests. The most common three tests people conduct are EVT, DVT, and PVT. Besides that, Certification test is of significance as well. Final Acceptance Test (FAT) is usually the last test to run in order to determine if the product has met all the requirements and specifications. At this stage, more and more companies tend to use “golden samples” sent by their manufacturing factories for the final verification that they fully understand your needs and are able to produce the products you want. If the “golden samples” passed your tests, congratulations, it could be the green light for your products to be mass produced.
This phase can be increasingly intensive especially when all these tests are more or less interrelated and can significantly affect each other. You might want to take some time to create your budget plan ahead of time because it costs a good amount of money to prototype the samples you need for the tests. Therefore, be prepared and patient, but also be quick.
After all the toss and turns, your product is ready to move into the mass production phase! Time for some champagne, or maybe catch up on some sleep? Not yet! You will want to maintain a good communication level with your suppliers as they could detect some defects that you failed to find previously. In the meantime, you should visit your manufacturers on a regular basis to keep track of the manufacturing progress.
3 Tips to Help You Build the Best NPI Practice
Now that we have reviewed all the major steps to complete the New Product Introduction process, here are 3 other tips that are helpful to you when creating and managing your NPI process:
Put together an NPI team
NPI team ≠ R&D team. A new product introduction process covers piles of tasks coming from various directions, and it’s just not realistic for you to expect all of them will be handled by only your R&D team. For an NPI team, it should usually consist of,
- NPI Manager: create an NPI project plan and drive and oversee the execution
- Product Design Engineer
- Supply Chain Specialist: Create Approved Vendors List (AVL)/ Approved Corporate List (ACL) for the new product
- Quality Engineer: Create material quality inspection criteria and checklists
- Manufacturing Engineer: Create Manufacturing Process Instruction (MPI)
- Technical Account Manager: Manage system hardware configurations, create Testing Process Instruction (TPI)
- Quality Assurance Officer: Oversees International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Quality Management System (QMS) compliance
- Sales Account Manager: Create Bill of Materials (BOM) in manufacturing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system per product specifications
For most startups, to build a team like this can be overwhelming. However, what it matters is not how many people on the team, but whether you delegate and complete all the responsibilities appropriately.
Compliance with regulations
No matter you are targeting locally or internationally, to ensure the compliance with all the necessary regulations is something you must keep in mind. It’s better for you to start planning based on your industry, product category, target market and maybe more factors at the early stage of the product development process. Below are some common organizations and regulatory bodies you need to pay attention to:
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Underwriters Laboratory (UL)
- European Conformity (CE)
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
- Military Standards (MIL)
Smooth and seamless cross-team communications
You can’t emphasize enough how critical good communications flow is because it is one of the most typical problems a lot of teams have encountered during NPI. Too many times, lacking good communications between engineers and marketing teams leads to vital insights not being delivered and products’ functional benefits missing out.
How is your NPI process going? Leave your feedback and questions in the comment section below. Good luck!
- Lu, R. (2016, March 15). 3 Common Pitfalls in NPI Process – New Product Introduction Process. Retrieved December 12, 2017, from https://premioinc.com/blog/3-common-pitfalls-in-npi-process/
- J. (2016, February 3). New Product Introduction in Seven Steps – the Beginning. Retrieved December 12, 2017, from http://www.learnitmakeit.com/new-product-introduction/