Skip main navigation

A Framework for Production Development

This article presents a common five-step framework used for developing new production systems and examines the idea of preparatory design.
© Luleå University of Technology

Developing a new production system is complex. By using a well-designed framework, this process can be helped.

Monica Bellgran and Kristina Säfsten, in their book Production Development, suggested a framework to help with production development. The framework has five steps:

  • Management and Control – This step involves securing investments for the development. It also involves planning the development. The step results in an implementation plan.
  • Preparatory Design – This step is about studying things such as previous production systems, production systems of other companies, current and future needs, and so on. It is here that we find out what we want our production to accomplish. We also find out different ways to accomplish this. The step results in a specification of requirements.
  • Design Specification – In this step we design our production system. This is often the most important step. First we do conceptual designs of production systems. We use the specification of requirements to get ideas for how these designs should look. Then we evaluate these conceptual, using the specification of requirements. We should chose one conceptual system after our evaluation. Then we do a detailed design of the chosen production system. This will result in a system solution.
  • Realisation and Planning – In this step, the production system is build. This will result in an actual production system.
  • Start-up – In this step, we start the production system. We also evaluate the system, using the specification of requirements, to see that it achieves what we want it to achieve. This results in a production in operation.

Because this is an introductory course we cannot go into too much detail here. The most important steps for this course is preparatory design and design specification. These we will describe in a bit more detail below and in the next step, and how you can make use of these steps in the course.

Preparatory Design and the Specification of Requirements

In the Preparatory Design step, we usually talk of doing two types of studies. The first is the background study. This study asks how our production system works, if it’s good enough or if it needs to be improved. We also need to observe other companies, to see what they do and if there’s anything there to learn from.

The second study is the pre-study. The pre-study investigates our expectations on the new system, what do we expect it to accomplish, and how will the changes affect our processes? This is also the stage where we want to try and investigate the future. How will the sector work, and how do we meet this? These studies will help us develop a specification of requirements.

From these two studies we can establish our specification of requirements. A specification of requirements tells us what to do, not how to do it.

Let’s say that we through our studies found that high productivity is important. We also found that most other companies with high productivity use a lot of automation. What should we put in our specification of requirements?

The answer: we should specify that our production system should have high productivity (what). We should not specify that we want a high level of automation (how).

Why do we do it this way? There are many reasons. The most important reason for this course is that we have seen that there are many problems with current production systems today. If we solve problems the same way we have solved them before, how can we make sure we do not repeat old problems?

The other reason is that designing production systems is a creative process (see the next step). By specifying how we should do something, we limit our thoughts. If we say what the system should do, we can find many different solutions to the same problem.

Before we look at an example of how a specification of requirements may look, we need to mention one more thing. As you can imagine, we will have many requirements. For example:

  • High productivity
  • Low environmental impact
  • Good work environment
  • Fast deliveries

Often we find that not all requirements have the same importance. The background and pre-study should tell you which requirement is more important. With this information you “weight” the requirements. For example, the most important requirements gets the weight 3, while the least important requirement gets the weight 1.

When we use a specification of requirement to evaluate something, we see how well our proposed system fulfils the requirements (again on a scale of 1–3, for example). When then multiply this score with the weight. For each proposed system, we sum the final score for each requirement. The system with the highest total score is the one we chose.

Let’s look at an example:

example of an evaluation process illustrated in a table where what we want to achieve is in the left column, an importance scale is in the middle, the value is on the right

You can think of this course as giving you knowledge for what to study in the background and pre-studies. In the next step, we will see how you can work Design Specification Step.

© Luleå University of Technology
This article is from the free online

Exploring Sustainable Production Systems

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now