An integrated approach to evaluating conceptual design alternatives in a new product development environment
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As many companies have demonstrated over time, a conceptual design for a new product contributes greatly to an improvement in competitiveness, because it permits a reduction of costs, an increase in quality, and, often, a shortening of the time necessary to get the product on the market. That is why the evaluation of conceptual design alternatives created in a new product development (NPD) environment has long been very vital and a critical point for the future Success Of companies in fast-growing markets. These alternatives can be evaluated using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP), one of the most commonly used Multiple criteria decision making (MCDM) techniques. This technique is used to reduce the number of conceptual design alternatives after ranking them using the scores obtained from the process. Furthermore, another technique, simulation analysis integrated with the AHP, is also used to help decision makers (product engineers or managers) perform economic analyses of the AHP's high-score alternatives using data from the generated simulation model of a real-life manufacturing system in which the final alternative is produced. In short, the objectives of this research are: first, to use the AHP technique to evaluate conceptual design alternatives in a NPD environment; second, to use a simulation generator integrated with this technique in order to perform economic analyses for the AHP's high-score alternatives. Finally, the results of both techniques, simulation and AHP, are used in a benefit/cost (B/C) analysis to reach a final decision on the conceptual design alternatives.