University of Twente Student Theses


How to Create and Transfer Knowledge for the Development of Standard and Custom Products?

Zomerdijk, Simon (2010) How to Create and Transfer Knowledge for the Development of Standard and Custom Products?

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Abstract:This research is performed for Grisnich. Grisnich is a machine manufacturer that has been active on the market for almost 50 years. During this period several markets have been explored and different products were developed. During the last decade, however, product development has decreased and new products have barely emerged. In 2008 Tolsma Beheer B.V. acquired the company and a new management is appointed at Grisnich. Change needs to occur and developments need to be made according to the new management and that is why this research is done. Many of the employees working at Grisnich have been working there for over ten years, meaning that there is a lot of knowledge on how the current products are made and about the industry. That is why knowledge is chosen as a starting point for this thesis. Further questioning showed that there are two main forms of products at Grisnich: standard products and custom products. Basically, these are standardised products and custom products that need to be designed completely according to customer specifications. Since the development of both of these product types has come to a standstill this research will focus on using knowledge creation and transfer for the development of different product types. This has resulted in the following central question: How should knowledge for the development of standard and custom products be created and transferred at the engineering department of Grisnich to optimise the development process? Knowledge creation and knowledge transfer are the main concepts of this research. Looking further into these concepts revealed six important elements of knowledge creation and transfer: (1) knowledge stock, (2) knowledge network, (3) organisational routines and processes, (4) learning factors, (5) motivation factors, and (6) communication factors. This results in a total of seventeen factors that are important for creating and transferring knowledge. Not all factors are evenly important throughout the development process that is why they were linked to a process. A problem solving process with a creativity phase where ideas need to be generated, the second phase a rough selection of the ideas needs to be made and further research on the ideas in the form of a business model needs to be done, the final phase is about selecting ideas that need to go through for further development and prototyping. Linking the factors to a particular phase allows concentrating on particular factors at a particular point in time. Results on research on the current situation showed that no distinction is made between the sales process and the development process, making it impossible to relate it to the three-­‐phase process of the ideal situation. Looking at the individual factors of knowledge management shows that also no distinction is made between the different product types or high priority is given to the creation and sharing of knowledge. Main problems lie in the communication, network and understanding of the bigger picture. There are problems with the acquisition of new knowledge, determining proper solutions, two-­‐way communication between departments, redesigning of products, and quickly understanding new products. The current situation lies closer to the ideal situation for the development of standard products than it does to the development of custom products, with the current situation scored ideal on eight out of seventeen factors of knowledge creation and transfer for the development of standard products, while it scored ideal on only four for the development of custom products. Positive, however, was that there is knowledge available and changing the current methods can close the gap. Based on the factors that need to be improved in order to close the gap between the current and ideal situation a method for the development for standard and custom methods is created. Knowing that with the attraction of a new head of engineering knowledge about prototyping and later stages of product development is available the developed method focuses on the early stages of product development. This five-­‐step method ensures that first the goal or problem for the development of products is determined. Not only does this provide direction, it also shows when the process can be ended and the development of other products can start. Second it provides guidelines to organise (group) creativity sessions that allow iv the generation of ideas. For the development of standard products this needs to be done individually, while for the development of custom products it is done in groups. This allows optimal idea generation. Third, the ideas are reduced to a number so a maximum of two ideas can be appointed to the group members. Each group member, or individual in the case of standard products, makes a business model in the fourth step of the method. This business model forces the ideas to become concrete and allows to compare them to current products in the case of standard products and to see the potential in the case of custom products. It also makes it possible to compare the ideas to each other and see which one has the most potential. Comparing and selecting is done in the last step. Here the ideas that have enough potential or are a significant improvement can go through for further development. An additional benefit of this model is that it can be seen as a type of stage-­‐gate model. This allows evaluating different stages of the development of products, but also deadlines can be given for individual stages making sure that progress is made. Currently no deadlines are given; with as result that often development gets overruled by the daily routines. Concluding remarks of this research are that although the current situation is far from ideal, products can be developed with the current knowledge available and the suggested methods provided. This means that Grisnich should be able to create and transfer knowledge better in order to develop products more efficiently.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Machinefabriek Grisnich
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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