Virtual Collaborative Design

Virtual Collaborative Design

Aybüke Aurum (University of New South Wales, Australia) and Oya Demirbilek (University of New South Wales, Australia)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-563-4.ch095
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Abstract

As we enter the third millennium, many organizations are forced to constantly pursue new strategies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Examples include offering customers streams of new products and services, as well as continuously seeking to improve productivity, services and the effectiveness of product design, development and manufacturing processes. Consequently, new concepts, approaches and tools are emerging quickly as the globalization trend expands across the world. Product complexity, pressures to reduce production cycle time, the need for stakeholders’ contributions and multinational company as well as consumer requirements create the demand for sophisticated multi-designer collaborative virtual environments where product design can be shared and acted upon (Kunz, Christiansen, Cohen, Jin, & Levitt, 1998; Ragusa & Bochanek, 2001; Anderson, Esser & Interrante, 2003). Thus, researchers and practitioners recognize that collaboration is an essential aspect of contemporary, professional product design and development activities. The design process is collaborative by nature. Collaborative design fosters participation of stakeholders in any form during the design process. The design of a successful product is dependent on integrating information and experiences from a number of different knowledge domains. These domains include consumer (end-user) requirements, industrial designers’ professional design skills as well as manufacturers’ needs. This results in a product that performs at a functional as well as aesthetic level and that can be manufactured by the right process at the right price. End-user involvement is essential to product design, since products that do not achieve consumer satisfaction or meet consumer needs are doomed to fail (Schultz, 2001). Accurate understanding of user needs is an essential aspect in developing commercially successful products (Achilladelis, 1971). Hence, it is very important for industrial designers to gather the end-users’ needs and incorporate them into their designs. The involvement of manufacturers in the initial stages of the domestic product design process can lead to a dramatic reduction in a product’s development lifecycle time, also facilitating the coordination of the purchasing and engineering functions (Bochanek & Ragusa, 2001; Demirbilek, 2001). The increasing complexity of artifacts and the globalization of product development are changing research methodologies and techniques. A prime example of this includes the application of a virtual collaborative design environment (VCDE) for product design and manufacturing. This article focuses on the concept of virtual collaborative design. It describes a research effort to investigate cross-cultural collaboration in product development using online applications for domestic product design. The aim of this research is to investigate issues related to the virtual collaborative design (VCD) process, and to bring an understanding of stakeholder needs during the collaborative design process as well as to improve the relationships between end-users, designers and manufacturers. The article presents findings based on a survey study conducted with four different potential stakeholders: representatives of consumers, software designers, industrial designers and manufacturers.

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