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2.3 MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
Clients have an idealised view of the appearance and functionality of the products they are sourcing. Their product requirements vary according to their specific circumstances and experiences. When designers try to meet or surpass client expectations, variation results and the product will deviate from the client’s idealised view. This often results in frustration, disappointment and rework for everyone concerned. Consequently designers must understand the sources of variation affecting their products and the techniques and tools that they can employ to reduce the negative effects of this variation. This paper examines the factors influencing clients as they formulate their expectations. It investigates why product variation causes the final product delivered to the client to vary from that expected. A gap model is proposed that visually describes the variation and assists in its understanding. This model introduces the concept of gaps and it is these gaps that need to be closed so that the actual product tends towards the ideal product envisaged by the client. The paper also describes some existing approaches that are important for reducing the effects of variation and that help suppliers deliver what customers really expect.
Delaney, K., Phelan, P., Delaney, D.: A Gap Model for Understanding the Variation of the Real Product from the Ideal. IMC22: Proceedings of the 22nd International Manufacturing Conference, Institute of Technology Tallaght, Dublin, 31 August-2 September, 2005.