SynProd – Synergistic development of mechatronic products in value-added networks

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Duration: From 2012 to 2015


  • Maren Gäde


Project Partners

Initial Situation and Problem

The efficient product development of mechatronic devices is of particular importance for the German industry. However, the increasing complexity of those products forces companies to align the product development process more strongly with the specific, individual customer expectations. In order to create an efficient but also flexible development process, the vertical integration and thereby the active participation of suppliers in the development process is indispensable. Unfortunately, the optimal design and coordination of cross-company product developments is often foredoomed to fail due to the established, traditional supplier relationships. In this case, uncoordinated development processes subsist which lead to inefficiencies such as time delays in the tendering and development process, imprecise forecasts of costs and delivery time, mismatches between product design and customer expectations or delayed error detection within the process. In turn, these inefficiencies usually entail cost-intensive corrective actions.

Objective and Approach

The aim of the project SynProd is to create an interdisciplinary methodology for the efficient configuration of cross-company product development processes. The vision of the project is to enable companies to instantly submit a realistic tender in respond to individual customer queries through substantiated estimations of development time and costs and resulting product functionality. To that end, already at early stages of the development process all potentials and restrictions along the entire supply chain, such as limited capacities or methods of manufacturing of the suppliers, have to be considered. The instant and continuous provision of relevant information throughout the entire network is another key factor of successful product developments. This is particularly true for the development of mechatronic products, where the components are strongly linked. Here, the prompt availability of information cannot only generate time and cost savings through the avoidance of unnecessary process iterations.  Rather, crucial quality improvements of the final product are also expectable due to an enhanced harmonization of its separate parts and components. In order to optimize the product development processes, the following steps will be performed during the project:

  1. Extensive analysis of the cross-company product development processes of the network considered as seen from the three perspectives “product”, “production” and “business management”
  2. Deduction and description of interdisciplinary requirements and dependencies within the product development process
  3. Integration of the three perspectives through a techno-economic methodology for the design of a relational system
  4. Development of appropriate combinations of methods for an improved network knowledge and information management
  5. Definition of guidelines concerning the network configuration and the generation of decision rules which will provide critical management support within the development process

For practical purposes, the created methodology targeting a synergistic development of mechatronic products will be converted into a prototypical software tool, named SynProd-Tool.

The main objective of the AIP is the configuration and development of eligible coordination and incentive mechanisms in order to increase the total efficiency of cross-company product developments. For the purpose of creating suitable incentives for each company, a valuation system for the additional benefit achieved through cooperation has to be developed. Here, the valuation method of total system efficiency has to cover both dimensions the degree of functionality of the final products as well as the cost effectiveness of the processes.