Tags: Project management design and development innovation

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Nano Cars to Driverless Tractors

Standards / Friday 7th of October 2016

In this weeks news, tiny machines win Nobel Chemistry Prize Click to see

When my son went to University a few years, they were already working on the concept of machines at the nano level, that’s less than a millionth of a mm delivering drugs to specific human organs. The Silver Screen explored the notion of moving around inside the body in “The Fantastic Voyage”. The opportunity in medicine is almost beyond comprehension.

And OK, there are Google cars and for us based in Milton Keynes, the epicentre of development of driverless urban pods.

All very exciting, but the actuality of robot tractors tilling and harvesting our fields, takes the concept to an altogether bigger scale. The bringing together of a fundamental source for life, food, with cutting edge robotics and GPS, that’s really exciting! See here for a test drive of a driverless tractor! 

But how would you manage the design and development of such projects, especially if inside an ISO quality wrapper. All of these projects require exemplary levels of quality control and change management. Key things to think about are,

Planning, Inputs, Outputs, Control and Changes, and repeat.

  • Consider how complex the project is. Whether there will need to be a staged development, gateways, go/no go decisions and what review points there might be.
  • What are the expectations and results of the project and how verification and validation of results will be done.
  • Who is going to manage the project and who has responsibilities within it.

Internal and external resources will require consideration, sourcing and how they interact. For example, we at Spedan find sharing platforms such as Dropbox really useful for collaboration in projects. Because, inherent in collaboration will be sharing documents, eg drawing and processes, You want to know where they are and what happens if they need changing.

Customers might have expectations from the design and development. Have they been involved with any changes or have they been informed. And of course there might be outside legislators or other “interested parties” who have an interest in what going on. Hinkley Point nuclear power station, or Heathrow Extension for example! Is there any information from previous or similar projects, which provides insight into issues or opportunities to improve on time or outcomes? 

There is a need to identify, review and control changes, (including ensuring their authorisation) made during, or after the design and development phase. Importantly and critical, that non-conformances are raised, reviewed and actioned to prevent reoccurrence or adverse effects. How often do we hear about unauthorised changes in projects leading to commercially damaging outcomes. The VW emissions scandal for one, is an example.

Design and development projects require positive leadership, careful thought and planning, attention to detail, but with an expectation that things might get delayed or go wrong. If all goes well, you might just have developed a company or industry changing innovation. Good luck and look out for a robot ploughing near you soon!