Fast Cycle New Product Development - A Case Study


Charles H. Blevins and Rose Marie Jao

In 1993, a major contact lens manufacturer launched a new product that was 9 years in the making. At the time, such long cycle times were not unusual in the company, even for a relatively non-complex project. By 1994, the company recognized that it had to make dramatic advances in their contact lens manufacturing process in less than 2 years in order to compete in the disposable lens market. This would be a relatively complex project. How could they do that? This seminar will summarize some of the problems in the aforementioned 9 year project that contributed to the long duration, as well as describe the way in which this manufacturer was able to leapfrog their contact lens manufacturing process in just over 2 years by employing Fast Cycle Time (FCT) principles. For this project there were four key features that contributed to its success.

First was the commissioning of a dedicated multi-functional core project team whose members were individually and collectively responsible and accountable for all aspects of the project from cradle-to-implementation. Second was the strong manufacturing department (i.e., downstream) support of this project from the onset. Third was the freezing of all specifications and requirements early in the project. And fourth was the use of designed experiments (DOE's) which facilitated a dramatic improvement in the polymerization process, reducing the cure time from two days down to two hours with improved material consistency. Other features will be discussed as well as the many lessons learned (the hard way).

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