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Asynchronous Development Mode for the R&D of Product

By Zheng Shengkai, Director of R&D Dept. 1

Current condition and problems

Comen has developed diversified product lines and mature development mode. At the beginning stage, one team had to develop one product from inside out by their own, which revealed more problems like repeated development, low interoperability, uncontrolled development period, high material cost due to its variety, complicated production process etc. As a result, R&D work is even more demanding.

Asynchronous development mode

Asynchronous development mode is to separate technology development and product development, and to modularize complicated technology which then becomes a reliable common building block (CBB) after tested and verified by senior engineers, so that CBB can be used in product development. This mode greatly reduces development difficulty, shortens the period and keeps the schedule moving. R&D team can focus on developing the product itself and launch a new product faster and more satisfying.

CBB category

To realize synchronous development mode, a reliable and reusable CBB is the most important. In the last issue, my colleague shared the importance of CBB and how to guarantee its stability. So I will skip this part and talk about CBB category, as follows:

Common design module: including standard cell circuit (schematic diagram), standard PCB (like the existing core board, the under-developing multiparameter module and many small functional circuit modules), software standard library (like function code database, shared function library);

Material warehouse: all parts and components in the warehouse should be tried to use so as to reduce material types and the risk of use new parts;

Technical platform for general products: system structure, software system structure template;

General design proposal: for some function designs represented by no specific module, functional design proposal can be made to direct and restrain product functional design to guarantee the consistency of product design.

R&D organization structure

The core competitiveness of an enterprise is not the number of products it has, but rather its productization ability. The corporation between product center and technical center will greatly improve corporate productization ability. Let’s compare the existing organization chart and the one under asynchronous development mode.

The left chart is the current R&D organizational structure. The R&D Dept. sets up several project teams led by project managers to develop technology as well as product.

The right one is the structure under asynchronous development mode, which is divided into technical center and product center. Technical center includes mechanical group, hardware group and software group and can be supported by groups of UI, law and regulations, EMC and process craft. It is responsible for technology development and innovation, the establishment and improvement of CBB library, and forming committee of technical experts to instruct and evaluate each project by product center. Product center is responsible for developing specific products. It should create its own produce by using the fully-developed CBB, help to improve CBB by altering its function and accept the judgment of the use of CBB from the committee.

Gradually realization of Synchronous development mode

Any good mode can’t be accomplished overnight. Only by gradually altering and improving our current work, can we steadily and eventually transform to asynchronous development mode.

In 2012 Comen began to build software standard library and standard cell circuit for electrophysiological product line and achieved preliminary success. Especially in software, software standard library was basically built, which had been used in a number of new projects. In 2013, a special software&hardware standardization group is set up. Based on the existing products and the requirements of each project under developing, the group keep testing, evaluating and summarizing in order to improve the standard library. Eventually, the specific standards and functions of each CBB used in product development were confirmed, which saved repetitive development work. At the same time, we continue to improve the library during practice.

This transformation needs about two to three years. Standardization and project team are promoted at the same time and in a mutual way. When all basic common modules are standardized, R&D organizational structure can be transformed into asynchronous development mode. After that, product development will be highly efficient and qualified. The senior engineers won’t be drowned in some inefficient and repetitive development work, instead they can focus on technology research and development, contributing to our core technical reserves. To engineers, this could be much more fun and have more sense of accomplishment.

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