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The state of modern product design

It seems we are surrounded by bad product design, as hardly a day goes by without another product recall notice in the newspaper. Some of these recalls are from companies that should know better, and were once highly regarded for reliability. One wonders why this is the case, as we have better engineering tools than ever before for product development. We believe that the push for lower and lower price points (the China effect) with shorter and shorter product life-cycles has led to this phenomenon of lower quality products. For some examples see the images below. Although the engineering (computer) tools are better, the time is clearly not allocated to the critical areas of a product’s development, due to time and cost constraints. From a sustainability point of view this is less than desirable. All the talk about carbon foot-print and sustainability becomes meaningless when used products are being sent to the landfill in record numbers, i.e. when they are only 10 years old, or worse 5 years old (which seems to be where things are heading). It takes energy (i.e. creates CO2) to make products. To put this into perspective it takes approximately ten times the amount of energy to make a car than the energy the car will consume in its lifetime in petrol & oil. At some stage if the human race is to prosper it has to come to terms with this. Personal responsibility has to be the solution to this issue, and as some have suggested it has to be seen as cool to use old equipment (why not if it’s still doing the job).

Over production / consumption of poor quality product has to cease at some point in the future as the simple fact is that we live on a finite planet with finite resources. However at Design Smart we believe we are doing our part by using our significant engineering experience. This is because we know where to put the design attention into a product from the beginning, to achieve the best possible long term quality result with the least amount of engineering / design effort.

In support of the above blog see example images of components that have all failed in the field with little or low usage, these parts are all from products that we have owned in recent years. A little more care in Product design would have negated all of these failures. Also these images are accompanied with an image of the multitude of recall notices from the newspaper in recent times.