An empirical investigation into the use of product development in the educational furniture industry : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Technology in Product Development at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
An empirical investigation into the use of product development in the educational furniture industry is summarised in this thesis. New Zealand furniture manufacturers are facing increased competition from imported furniture and are also exporting more and more furniture. Developing new products is therefore important to the New Zealand furniture industry's growth. This research was based on a small furniture-manufacturing firm from Hastings, New Zealand called Furnware Industries Limited (Furnware). A product development process was developed to their specific needs by comparing their current product development activities with identified best practices in product development. Those parts of the current activities that worked well were amalgamated with the structured Stage-Gateœ process of Cooper (1998). This process was tested by using it to develop a Mobile Technology Education Workstation range for Furnware. The aim of the project was to develop a new product for Furnware to sell and to simultaneously test the developed process. Once the project was completed, an evaluation of the product development process used was undertaken. Several areas for improvement were identified and a revised process outlined. The use of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software was identified as another area of improvement that would assist both product development activities and existing manufacturing processes at Furnware. Consequently, a CAD package best suited to Furnware is selected using a structured process. The three main outcomes of the research were: 1. A product development process suited to Furnware. 2. A Mobile Technology Education Workstation range of products ready for launch, pending minor adjustments and testing. 3. A CAD software package suggested for use at Furnware.