What is R&D in Manufacturing?

R&D stands for Research & Development. R&D refers to the activities that companies undertake in order to bring improved or new products to consumers with the aim of adding to the company’s bottom line. Companies invest huge sums of money in R&D, thereby assuming the risk of loss, in the search for substantial returns commonly known as profit. The initial investments in R&D are typically for researchers to first explore their ideas and then develop a prototype. This can be applied to brand new products, taking an existing product and enhancing the features and benefits, or finding ways to bring it to market cheaper.

What is R&D in Manufacturing?

It’s not just tangible products that are explored through R&D. Iteration also takes place in the service industry and in the world of technology. Technology plays an important role across the product and service boards as it continues to evolve. Researchers are constantly looking for ways to include technology in their products, in the manufacturing processes, and to bring self-service options to customers. In the manufacturing industry, technology can lower the cost of production or the overheads of a service offering. In turn, this also gives them a competitive edge, and boosts profitability.

Manufacturing R&D

The main focus of R&D projects in manufacturing is on innovation. While the idea is always to restrain manufacturing costs, the focus is on developing products that will bring convenience, and value to consumers. By researching and developing such products, manufacturers aim to outsmart their competitors and be the first to bring a product to market in order to remain competitive or grow market share.

While the primary focus of research and development is on new and improved products, researchers also examine ways to reduce manufacturing costs. To do so, businesses will streamline the complexities of manufacturing certain products. Lowering manufacturing costs can then boost the profitability of products at current selling prices. Lower manufacturing costs also allow for the sales price to be discounted, which broadens the appeal of a product. The outcome of R&D should be to make using or consuming a product easier, as well as enhance what products can do for the user.

R&D Focus

R&D in manufacturing focuses on four main areas.

Per Unit Processing Level Technologies

This area focuses on improving the manufacturing processes to improve productivity, quality, as well as eco-friendliness. Per unit processing level technologies R&D also takes new materials into consideration.

Machine Level Technologies

Research in machine-level technologies looks at creating new manufacturing machinery and improving existing equipment. The overall goal is to improve accuracy and throughput in order to lower the cost of production.

Systems-level Technologies

Systems-level technologies R&D looks in great detail at the systems used to enable the production process. This involves seeking advances and improvements to controls, sensors, cells, systems, as well as lines and their interconnectivity. It also extends to systems that connect a manufacturer to its suppliers and logistics providers.

Societal or Environment Level Technologies

Societal or environmental level technology R&D is concerned with promoting manufacturing competitiveness and workforce abilities. This can be done through improvements in ergonomics, health and safety, and education.

Additional Reading: R&D Tax Credits for the Manufacturing Industry

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