[en] Design flaws often become apparent at a time when the product is already in use and its development process, which in many cases includes extensive testing of parts, components and prototypes, is considered complete. Such flaws may reach from poor ergonomics to the total failure of the product. Often, especially when user safety is at risk, design flaws are so severe that companies are forced to announce a product callback. Petroski suggests that many (if not most) products, which we are familiar with today, have a long history of previously flawed designs . This implies that designers did indeed learn from design flaws in both senses of the word “learn”: discovering the flaw and utilizing the knowledge gained about it to find a solution. As far as discovering a design flaw is concerned, it can be assumed that the feedback from those who interact with the physical products in practice – the individuals who maintain, repair, recycle but essentially use the products – plays an important role. In their previous work, the authors pointed out hat this feedback information could not only be vital for identifying potential product hazards but helps designers to review the effects of their design measures and therefore to improve their products from generation to generation . In order to obtain a better understanding of how designers learn from design flaws, a mail survey was conducted that aimed at investigating company-, process- and product-related factors of this phenomenon and to answer (among others) the following research questions: • To what extent are design flaws of a company’s (or a competitor’s) product a driving force in the development of new products? • How do the designers of a company become aware of design flaws of their products? • How successful are companies in correcting design flaws? • How do successful and unsuccessful companies differ in terms of size, activity profile of their designers and characteristics of their products? • What are possible factors that influence the success in correcting a design fault?
Mechanical engineering Engineering, computing & technology: Multidisciplinary, general & others