Manufacturing role in simple product development at a multiproject environment
This article concerns the role of manufacturing in the innovation process within a company environment characterized by simple products and multi-project development. The objective of this research was to understand the manufacturing management practices in product and process development. Three Brazilian companies from different business sectors - cosmetics, candies and shoes - were studied. Derivative projects are the main business of the innovation process in these companies. However, there are also some platform and breakthrough projects in each company at every period. Results showed that manufacturing plays an important role in the innovation process at strategic and implementation levels. One important finding was that co-location of research and development - R&D, marketing, and manufacturing units and staff may substitute co-location of project teams; another finding was that manufacturing may have a leading role in project definition, selection and management, whenever it is a dominant function at the company, defining the common language concerning products. When production is not the leading function in company parlance, R&D may take the role of translator, facilitating the required communication between manufacturing and other areas in the innovation process.