US20080047861A1 - Product Development and Management Methodologies - Google Patents

Product Development and Management Methodologies Download PDF

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US20080047861A1
US20080047861A1 US11855248 US85524807A US2008047861A1 US 20080047861 A1 US20080047861 A1 US 20080047861A1 US 11855248 US11855248 US 11855248 US 85524807 A US85524807 A US 85524807A US 2008047861 A1 US2008047861 A1 US 2008047861A1
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product
engine driven
method
oem
common carrier
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John H. West
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West John H
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING
    • B63B35/00Vessels or like floating structures adapted for special purposes
    • B63B35/73Other vessels or like floating structures for pleasure or sport
    • B63B35/731Waterscooters
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING
    • B63B17/00Vessels parts, details, or accessories, not otherwise provided for
    • B63B17/0027Tanks for fuel or the like ; Accessories therefor, e.g. tank filler caps
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management

Abstract

Systems and methods for developing and managing a product are described. The development of the product includes configuring and constructing the product such that the product can be communicated directly between an end user and an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The system further comprises developing the product to satisfy the requirements of a common carrier as to content, shape, and size of parcels. For engine driven products, this development includes developing the product for isolation of consumable materials, such as fuel, oil, and/or batteries, during shipment of the product. Such a system provides for the cradle to grave management of the engine driven product by the OEM. Accordingly, the OEM avoids the expense and complication generally associated with maintaining or associating with an engine driven device dealers. Such a system also allows the OEM to more closely monitor and assess product performance and maintenance and well as warranty and financing protocols.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 11/695,360, filed Apr. 2, 2007, titled “Power System For Watercraft” which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 11/466,653 filed Jun. 5, 2006 titled “Prone Operator Position Personal Watercraft”, the entire contents of both of which are hereby expressly incorporated by reference into the present application.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates in general to the field of product development. More particularly, the present invention relates to development and distribution of engine driven personal use vehicles, such as personal watercraft, bicycles, engine powered two wheel vehicles, and the like. Specifically, a preferred embodiment of the present invention relates to a system of developing a product to comply with the requirements of a third party distribution network.
  • 2. Discussion of the Related Art
  • Historically, it was known in the prior art to develop a product that is maximized for manufacturing productivity as well as product robustness. It is further well established to develop a product based upon manufacturing cost as well as material consumption. After development of the intended product, a distribution modality is commonly determined and selected as a cost consideration as to how to efficiently communicate the product to the consumer. Although general consumer goods such as shoes and computers can be readily communicated to the consumer via common carriers such as UPS or Federal Express, other products, as determined by their composition, size, and configuration, are commonly refused to be transported by these delivery systems. Engine powered devices, because of their size, weight, shape, and inclusion of combustible materials, are one type of such a product.
  • Distribution of engine powered devices is commonly effectuated by contact carriers who distribute the manufactured and fully assembled products from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to a number of depot or dealer locations. This distribution modality can be readily observed every day in the transportation of cars and/or other engine powered devices via contract carrier and the proliferation of dealerships associated with specific OEMs. These dealers and contract carriers often operate independently of the OEM. Efficient operation of such a system requires relatively constant and generally uninterruptible communication between the OEM and the participants of the distribution chain.
  • Product development generally includes the configuration of a product and assignment of a distribution modality after the product has been designed. That is, the OEM will select the distribution modality as a function of who will be willing to distribute the product to a consumer. FIG. 3 shows such a system 10. After a products' conception 12, the OEM determines a manufacturing protocol 14. Such a protocol determination generally includes the selection and assignment of which components and assemblies the OEM can itself manufacture, and which components and assemblies the OEM will contract with others to provide. Upon acquisition of all of the necessary product configuration and construction systems, the OEM assesses and selects a distribution modality 18. The process of selecting a distribution modality generally includes consideration of: a) whether the OEM should internally control the distribution network or contract with third parties that provide such services, b) which carriers are willing to distribute the product, c) the relative cost associated with those parties who are willing to transport the product, and d) where and by whom the product will be displayed to the public, etc. Commonly, when the product cannot simply be transported by common carrier, selection 18 results in a selection between just a few contract service providers.
  • Having determined the product configuration and manufacture protocol 14 and selected a distribution modality 18, system 10 produces and distributes the conceived product in accordance with the decisions related to the product manufacture protocol 14 and the decisions related to product distribution 18. The existing business development methodology for the sales and service of motorized vehicles has traditionally followed this paradigm.
  • As an example, personal watercraft OEMs incorporate an intermediary or a dealer between the OEM and the end user or customer. The dealer channel is used by the OEM to inform and make the sale of product and accessories to the end user, take the necessary steps to prepare the product for delivery to the customer (dealer prep), effect delivery of the product to the customer, provide warranty service of the product, provide recall service, if necessary, and provide ongoing service to the customer. The dealer may also provide a market in used product. The dealer channel provides a convenient means for an OEM to easily inform and make the sale of product to individual customers distributed across large geographical territories. The dealer is also generally responsible for unloading product from the commercial carrier, make final preparations of the product for consumer use such as adding fuel and/or oil, making, installing, or servicing battery systems, and otherwise transporting the product for consumer delivery. The design of such products relies on point of sale personnel, or a local dealer, to accomplish these and other tasks. The size, weight, and configuration of the product often required some form of material handling equipment or multiple individuals to be involved in the unloading of the product from the commercial carrier or transporter. The end user generally could not accept receipt of such products at their ship-to address.
  • The dealership product supply protocol also separates the OEM from inventory and specific product control and performance feedback. If a product suffers an “infant mortality” while under warranty, the dealer channel commonly performs warranty repairs for the customer and charges the OEM for such services. In return for these and other services, the OEM generally provides a discount from list price on products, accessories, and service parts to the dealer. These discounts account for a portion of the revenue stream associated with operation of the dealership. In essence, the dealership network is partially supported by the OEM. Due to the requirements of engine driven products discussed above, the dealer network distribution channel has become the common business model for all motorized watercraft OEMs.
  • The dealership distribution network presents several additional drawbacks to the distribution of OEM products. The dealership network requires the placement of a third party, i.e., the dealer, between the OEM and the consumer. The dealer is frequently less motivated and/or not as well equipped as the OEM to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction. That is, if the OEM's product fails too often, the dealer may simply switch brands to maintain the vitality of the dealership. Such product shifting directly affects the success of the OEM's products and the OEM underlying business. The dealer channel also necessitates a number of additional resources to recruit and train dealers, establishing dealership order processing and accounts receivable systems, service training for dealership personnel, part ordering and logistics systems, provisions of service manuals and specialized service equipment, warranty tracking systems and dealer motivational expenses.
  • As alluded to above, dealership loyalty and/or solidarity is also an issue. Dealerships frequently carry a wide range of motorized products from multiple OEMs. The sales personnel associated with such multiple brand dealerships often lack an intimate knowledge of any one brand carried by the dealership. Such dealerships also generally lack the capacity to carry each and every product produced by each OEM. As such, such dealerships may not have on hand a specific product of customer interest as it would be implausible and impractical to have showrooms large enough and be financially liquid enough to cover the cost associated with stocking each product produced by each OEM. Such cross-brand product dealerships also often lack the ability to maintained service personnel skilled in servicing each individual product offered by multiple OEMs.
  • OEM distribution that relies on the dealership distribution model is also susceptible to unscrupulous dealership transactions. For example, if a field failure occurs under warranty, the OEM is at the mercy of accurate reporting from the dealership to determine root causes and confirmation that the failure is cover by an applicable warranty. Such occurrences can unnecessarily increase the OEMs operating expenses.
  • The dealership distribution model also suffers from untimely product manufacture-to-use intervals. That is, unsold dealership products may have defects that have not been recognized by the OEM because the products remain unused in the dealership's inventory. The time lag between initial manufacture and recognition of the defect increases the product pool that must be repaired or otherwise corrected. A recall initiated by the OEM to effect a product modification would have to cover both purchased product and the unsold inventory.
  • The dealership also complicates the stream of information with respect to feedback from the end user. Generally, a consumer who has a product issue or comment reports this feed back to the point of sale, i.e. the dealership. Accordingly, consumer feedback may not be accurately communicated to the OEM and may be filtered or otherwise discarded by the dealership. OEMs frequently require a warranty card or other product registration system such that the OEM is knowledgeable about the identity of end consumers and warranty responsibilities. The cost associated with maintaining such systems is not negligible and further increases the per unit operating expense experienced by the OEM.
  • Understandably, engine driven products could be communicated directly to a consumer but only with considerable additional expense. That is, the OEM would become financially responsible for supporting the personnel and equipment necessary for such a transaction. When many purchasers would only require a few actual machines, a wide market area must be penetrated to maintain the viability of the underlying OEM. Distributing the product would generally require transportation vehicles, such as trucks, and personnel physically able to deliver the purchased products. Although this would be an obvious variant to avoid a dealership network, the cost associated with maintaining such a system renders it impractical to start-up providers.
  • Accordingly, it is desired to provide alternate systems and methods of developing a product and communicating that product to a consumer.
  • SUMMARY AND ASPECTS OF THE INVENTION
  • By way of summary, the present invention is directed to development and management of engine driven products that overcomes one or more of the above mentioned drawbacks. An effect of the present invention is the ability to communicate such products directly to a consumer or end user without the involvement or establishment of a contract carrier, a dealership, or dealer network. A further aspect of the invention is to provide an engine driven apparatus that can be efficiently communicated between an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and an end user. As understood herein, an engine driven apparatus, product, or device generally includes personal use vehicles and specifically engine driven recreational vehicles such as personal watercraft and wheeled products, such as two-wheeled products like dirt bikes, and four wheelers. Although specifically directed to engine driven devices, it is also appreciated that the present invention is equally applicable to other consumer products such as bicycles, lawnmowers, all terrain vehicles, exercise equipment, etc.
  • Another aspect of the invention is to provide an engine driver apparatus that is ruggedized and reliable, thereby decreasing down time and operating costs. Another aspect of the invention is to provide an apparatus that has one or more of the characteristics discussed above but which is relatively simple to manufacture and assemble using a minimum of equipment. A further aspect of the invention is to provide an engine driven apparatus that can be easily broken down into constituent parts that can be configured for transportation by a common carrier.
  • In accordance with one aspect of the invention, these advantages are achieved by a method of developing a product that includes conceiving a general idea of a desired product. A commercial distribution network is selected for disseminating the desired product. The general idea of the desired product is then altered to satisfy requirements of the commercial distribution network. Such a method develops a product that can be efficiently and expeditiously manufactured, distributed, and serviced by an original equipment manufacturer.
  • Another aspect of the invention discloses a method of providing an engine driven product. The method includes manufacturing of an engine driven product in accordance with receipt of an order from an end user of the engine driven product. Shipment of the engine driven product is scheduled to be shipped to the end user via a common carrier. The engine driven product is constructed for separation into a power component and a frame component. The power component and the frame component are separately packaged into packages that satisfy shipping requirements of the common carrier. The separately packaged power and frame components are shipped directly to the end user via the common carrier. Such a method allows the original equipment manufacturer to avoid the cost and effort associated with maintaining a dedicated distribution system.
  • A further aspect of the invention discloses a method of managing a product that includes manufacturing an engineered engine driven recreational device. The engine driven recreational device is sold directly to a consumer. The engine driven recreational device is delivered directly from a manufacturer to the consumer and is serviced by personnel that are common to the manufacture of the engine driven recreation device. Such a system enables the personnel most intimate with a machine's manufacture to service the machine after sale.
  • The invention discloses a number of methods that have one or more of the characteristics discussed above but which is relatively simple to setup and operate. Such methods provide means for producing and managing product development, distribution, maintenance, and monitoring from inception to consumption of the device. That is, the original equipment manufacturer can efficiently monitor and maintain the product from cradle to grave. Furthermore, such methods facilitate the direct communication of goods and services between the manufacturer of the goods with the end user of the goods thereby allowing the original equipment manufacturer to control public interaction with the entity associated with the product.
  • These and other aspects and advantages of the present invention will be better appreciated and understood when considered in conjunction with the following description and the accompanying drawings. It should be understood, however, that the following description, while indicating preferred embodiments of the present invention, is given by way of illustration and not of limitation. Many changes and modifications may be made within the scope of the present invention without departing from the spirit thereof, and the invention includes all such modifications.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • A clear conception of the advantages and features constituting the present invention, and of the operation of typical mechanisms provided with the present invention, will become more readily apparent by referring to the exemplary, and therefore non-limiting, embodiments illustrated in the drawings accompanying and forming a part of this specification, wherein like reference numerals designate the same elements in the several views, and in which:
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a process of developing a product according to the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 illustrates a process of managing a product developed according to the process of FIG. 1; and
  • FIG. 3 illustrates a prior art process of product development.
  • In describing the preferred embodiment of the invention which is illustrated in the drawings, specific terminology will be resorted to for the sake of clarity. However, it is not intended that the invention be limited to the specific terms so selected and it is to be understood that each specific term includes all technical equivalents which operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose. For example, an engine driven product is discussed herein as an example of a product that is not transportable via common carrier due to package requirements imposed by the common carrier. That is, the weight and combustible fluids commonly associated with internal combustion engines generally requires that products so equipped be shipped via independent or contract carriers who have negotiated the risk associated with such products. Understandably, other products, whose end use configuration prohibits common carrier transportation, can be reconfigured and/or alternatively constructed to allow OEM management of the product directly with a consumer. Such alternative configurations and products are recognized as being equivalents of the claimed invention.
  • DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • The present invention and the various features and advantageous details thereof are explained more fully with reference to the non-limiting embodiments described in detail in the following description.
  • 1. System Overview
  • A product development system 100 is shown in FIG. 1 and a product management system 200 is shown in FIG. 2. The systems include features that are not necessarily mutually exclusive and that are configured to facilitate development and management of a product between an OEM and a consumer without intermediary participants.
  • 2. Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiments
  • Referring to FIG. 1, product development system 100 begins with a general idea of a desired product or general product conception 102. Product conception 102 generally includes considerations of consumers' wants, needs, and desires as well as manufacturing capabilities and abilities. For engine driven devices, and particularly engine driven recreation devices, product conception 102 generally includes consideration of engine system types and components, frame systems, and control systems and/or other operating/subsystem assemblies associated with the production of engine driven devices. The product configuration and construction is assessed (104) to ensure manufacturing capabilities and abilities. Having generalized the product configuration and construction (104), product development process 100 assesses available product distribution modalities (106). That is, process 100 selects a commercial distribution network desired to communicate, transport, deliver, or otherwise disseminate the desired product. The available distribution modalities (106) are reviewed and assessed to determine (108) whether a direct OEM to user product stream can be supported. Preferably, the review and assessment of the distribution modalities includes consideration of carrier acceptable parcel size, parcel weight, and parcel shape.
  • If product development system 100 does not support a direct OEM-user product stream (108), the development system 100 returns (110) to reassess the product distribution modalities (106). Once a OEM-user product stream is developed (112), product development system 100 determines whether the product configuration and/or construction (104) is common carrier compliant (114). That is, product development system 100 checks that the product configuration and construction (104) produces a product, or collection of assemblies, which form a product that satisfy common carrier parcel requirements. In other words, the commercial distribution network specifies a type of product and parcel configuration that is transportable. For example, product development system 100 ensures that the size, weight, configuration, packaging, and composition are compliant with common carrier parcel delivery protocols. Commonly, these protocols include specification on the types of products that can be transported via common carrier, the sealed containment of any fluids or fluid containing systems, and the weight and shape of individual parcels such that they can be handled by a single individual. Preferably, each of the parcels associated with a desired product do not exceed a weight of approximately 150 pounds or 70 kg, a length of 108 inches or 2.70 meters, have a combined length of girth of approximately 165 inches or 4.19 meters, a width of approximately 35 inches or 0.889 meters, or a height of approximately 24 inches or 0.610 meters. Preferably, each parcel does not weight more than approximately 70 pounds or 31.5 kg, has a length that is approximately 62 inches or 1.575 meters, a width that is approximately 27 inches or 0.686 meters, and a height of approximately 18 inches or 0.457 meters. Understandably, a total number of parcels associated with any given product will depend, at least in part, on the cumulative shape and size of the desired product as well as the desired dimensions of the individualized parcels.
  • In the event that product configuration and construction (104) is not common carrier parcel compliant (116), product development system 100 returns to assessment of the product configuration and construction (104). The return to product configuration and construction (104) necessarily requires the reconfiguration or reconstruction of product assemblies or subassemblies. Preferably, product configuration and construction (104) includes configuring the desired product to be broken down into a number of constituent parts such that the individual constituent parts can be individually packaged or otherwise configured to satisfy the common carrier parcel compliance (114). Such a protocol may alter the general idea of the desired product to satisfy requirements of the commercial distribution network. That is, the desired product may be configured to be broken down into a number of constituent parts, which may include one or more of an engine system, a frame system, and a control system.
  • Once product configuration and construction (104) has satisfied the common carrier parcel compliance (118), product development system 100 allows the OEM to proceed to product production (120) and produce a product which can then be shipped directly from the OEM to a consumer via a common carrier (122). Such a configuration also allows the desired product to be returned directly to the manufacturer or OEM from an end user via the same commercial common carrier distribution network. That is, the engine driven device, or systems thereof, can be isolated and segregated by the end user and returned directly to the OEM for servicing or other repair. Accordingly, product development system 100 is configured such that the desired product is maintained by an OEM for the life of the desired product from cradle to grave.
  • The cradle to grave OEM management of a developed product is shown in FIG. 2. The desired product is configured to be maintained by an original equipment manufacturer for the entire life of the desired product. Product management system 200 is particularly suited for providing an engine driven product and begins with the acquisition of customer order (202). Order acquisition (202) could be configured to be acquired by any of a number of modalities, e.g., including telephone, regular postal mail, e-mail, or in Internet-based order portals. For those OEMs that manufacture engine driven products, system 200 allows the OEM to receive an order directly from an end user of the engine driven product. For such engine-powered device OEMs, customer order (202) generally includes scheduling shipping of the engine driven product to the end user or customer via a common carrier. The OEM acquires, assembles, or otherwise manufacturers the components necessary for product production (204) based on customer order (202). Product management system 200 includes products that may require constructing the engine driven product for separation or segregation into a power component and a frame or hull component. The separated components are then separately packaged into packages that satisfy shipping requirements of the common carrier (208). Accordingly, the product produced is generally associated with common carrier compliant packaging requirements (208). The appropriately packaged product can then be shipped to a customer or end user directly from the OEM (210).
  • Upon receipt of the product, customer assembly (212) of the constituent parts or assemblies is required for customer use (214) and enjoyment of the product. Consumer use and enjoyment of the product is generally continuous (218) until the occurrence of a warranty issue or requirement for other repair or maintenance (216). Upon such an occurrence (220), the product configuration and construction allows for customer disassembly (222), customer repackaging of the relevant product portions with the common carrier compliant packaging (224), and return of the product to the OEM (226) via a common carrier. That is, the desired product is configured to be returned directly to a manufacturer from an end user via the commercial distribution network. Upon receipt of the customer device, the OEM performs the necessary or requested repair (228) and may optionally collect additional information with respect to product performance, use, and consumption. Having completed the requested service or repair (232), the OEM returns the repaired portions of the product to the customer (230) via the common carrier distribution stream for continued consumer use. Accordingly, product management system 200 allows an OEM to manage assembly, distribution and servicing of an engine driven product at OEM common locations. Configuring each of the power and/or frame components of the product to be able to be broken down into a number of smaller assemblies allows individual assemblies of the product to be communicated independently between the OEM and the customer. Furthermore, configuring the packaging to be reusable for return of one or more of the components of the product limits customer and OEM expense associated with exchanging product portions which require servicing or exchange. Furthermore, the direct exchange of product between OEM and consumer allows servicing of the product with the same personnel that manufacture or otherwise engineer the engine driven recreational device.
  • Specific embodiments of the present invention will now be further described by the following, non-limiting examples which will serve to illustrate various features of significance. The examples are intended merely to facilitate an understanding of ways in which the present invention may be practiced and to further enable those of skill in the art to practice the present invention. Accordingly, the examples should not be construed as limiting the scope of the present invention.
  • As an example, traditional personal watercrafts often include an engine and a power system that are supported in a hull. Although the nature of the manufacture of such traditional devices renders the systems generally separable, the systems of the apparatus are generally constructed to be separated only by highly skilled service personnel. Having chosen a distribution system that enables a direct OEM to consumer product stream, a product constructed in accordance with the present invention, such as that disclosed in co-pending U.S. Ser. No. 11/695,360, filed Apr. 2, 2007, titled “Power System For Watercraft” and U.S. Ser. No. 11/466,653 filed Jun. 5, 2006 titled “Prone Operator Position Personal Watercraft”, satisfies common carrier protocol and can be assembled by an end user of the product. The personal watercrafts disclosed therein are engine driven, configured to be broken down into a number of manageable components, and constructed to support an operator in a prone position. Understandably, these are but one example of the applicability of the present invention.
  • Preferably, the product is small and lightweight such that it can be easily shipped directly to the end user using common shipping methods such as UPS and Federal Express. It is preferably easily unloaded and transported by a single individual to its final use destination. The product has a simplified construction that includes a number of parts, such that the product can be broken down into constituent parts. Additionally, the breakdown and assembly of the product requires only a common mechanical aptitude without the need of any specialized skills or tools.
  • The personal watercraft disclosed in U.S. Ser. Nos. 11/466,653 and 11/695,360 include a number of connectable systems that are constructed to be communicated from the OEM to the consumer. Preferably, the hull, each sponson, the engine, the control system such as the throttle and steering control systems, and the jet assembly of the watercraft disclosed therein are fully removable and are constructed to accommodate the common carrier parcel specifications as disclosed above. That is, although more than one of the assemblies discussed above may be constructed to collectively satisfy the common carrier specifications, each assembly or system can be individually shipped should such a need arise. Preferably, understandably, the packaging schedule of the components of the assembly is intended such that each package can approach the tolerances specified by the common carrier thereby reducing the total number of parcels associated with any given system or assembly.
  • The ability of the watercraft product to be easily broken down into constituent parts renders the product suitable for servicing or other repair through a return to depot or OEM business method. The partial disassembly of the product includes separation of the primary power train module which reasonably includes the most common field failure elements such as the engine, its associated sub-systems, such as electrical and exhaust systems, the jet pump propulsion system, and the steering mechanism. For communication of the repairable elements between the OEM and the consumer via common carrier, features of the in-use configuration of the product may need to be removable from the product to satisfy common carrier requirements. That is, the engine driven product can include a removable fuel tank and a removable oil reservoir.
  • Preferably, product components such as the fuel tank, the battery, and/or an engine oil system are constructed to be easily removed from the watercraft. Additionally, other bulky items, that may collectively exceed common carrier size and shape restrictions, and which would not normally fail, such as flotation chambers and covers, are also constructed to be simply and efficiently removed from the product. The fuel tank and battery are easily removable to comply with hazardous material shipping restrictions. Preferably, an end user provides the consumable materials, such as fuel, a battery, and oil, which are barred from transport by the common carrier. Incorporation of an electronic fuel injection (EFI) system mitigates the requirement to drain a reservoir commonly associated with a carbureted engine. The EFI system and draining of a carburetion system ensures no fuel is contained in a product power system during transport. Such simplistic operations ensure that the consumer shipped portion of the product complies with common carrier parcel requirements as well as federal and state hazardous material shipping regulations.
  • For those engine-powered products provided with a crankcase constructed to contain a volume of operating oil, the engine crankcase is constructed to remain sealed during shipment. Alternatively, the product could also be provided with a removable oil reservoir. Such a configuration would allow the OEM to deliver the product directly to the consumer without hydrocarbon materials or with common carrier pre-approved hydrocarbon containing systems. Upon receipt, the consumer independently acquired and introduces the fuel and oil to the systems of the product. In the event that the product requires repair or other servicing, the user simply removes that portion of the product which requires service and returns it to the OEM. However, the consumable products associated with engine operation are retained by the user and are not shipped via common carrier except for that embodiment wherein the engine system includes a sealed oil containing crankcase.
  • The product shipping cartons or containers are also designed and constructed to facilitate multi-directional direct OEM/consumer product shipment. That is, the containers are utilized for both direct shipment of the product from the OEM to the customer and return shipment of portions of the product from the customer to the OEM and/or repair depot. Preferably, the packaging is configured to be reusable for return of one of a frame component and a power component directly to the original equipment manufacturer. A power train carton is further constructed to ensure the configuration of the power train system upon shipment. That is, the size and shape of the carton is configured to prevent the power train module or drive portion of the product from being packaged with the fuel tank and/or battery attached. Designing and constructing the product and respective systems to support a common carrier return to depot or OEM business method avoids the dealership distribution network as well as the expense associated with internally forming and managing an OEM specific distribution network. The systems also avoid the expense and complication associated with maintaining an amicable relationship with independent contract carriers.
  • The direct OEM/customer product stream allows the OEM to directly control the service and product delivered to the consuming public. The OEM maintained repair systems can be staffed by highly skilled technicians who are intimately familiar with the entirety of the OEM product line. The system alleviates the needs to constantly train dealership service technicians and provide them with the often costly service manuals, specialized service tools, diagnostic equipment, parts ordering support, and logistics systems since all of these resources would be OEM maintained. OEMs operating according to the disclosed systems also reduce the effects of online and telephonic help systems as the OEM's personnel maintain the in-field product.
  • An OEM supported and operated repair function staffed with OEM trained and highly experienced technicians, equipped with the specialized tools and equipment needed, and supported by the OEM parts inventories improves both a Mean Time to Diagnose (MTTD) and a Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) as compared to conventional dealership service methods. That is, the personnel responsible for trouble-shooting a product can often be instrumental in product design and development or closely associated or even closely located with personnel responsible for such functions. By implementing an OEM repair strategy, the MTTR can be measured in days thereby greatly enhancing the customer experience as well as the customer confidence in the OEM. In addition, the profit potential of the OEM would increase by the reduction in cost associated with establishing and maintaining a dealer service channel and the increased margins on parts and labor which now flow directly to the OEM.
  • The OEM management of repair and customer communications also enhances efficient product assessment. Infant mortality failures of in-field product can be quickly and easily identified because the inventory lag associated with the dealership network is avoided. The OEM can also readily diagnose and analyze warranty costs. Field failures can be quickly identified and product corrective actions can be quickly implemented thereby reducing exposure associated with warranty failure and diagnosis lags. OEM control of repair systems also affords the OEM the benefit of access to near immediate end user consumer information. Accurate records of specific failures and failure rates greatly assist continued product improvement and development. Cost margins on parts and labor normally flowing to dealerships would now flow directly to the OEM providing additional profit potential. Warranty service costs can also be easily tracked and accounted.
  • The direct return to OEM service method is complimented by a direct Internet enabled sales method to completely eliminate intermediaries between the OEM and the end user. The complete control of customer satisfaction is controlled directly by the OEM. The OEM trained sales assistants are in direct contact with the potential customer ensuring accurate and timely answers to queries and fostering the OEM/end user relationship. Information from other users or previous consumers can also be easily available on-line to provide real world feedback on the OEM and OEM products. The on-line direct interaction of the OEM and consumer ensure correct and timely ordering and ensures accurate shipping dates and times which further enhance customer confidence.
  • The ease with which the product can be manufactured, packaged, delivered, user assembled and operated uniquely positions the OEM of the engine driven apparatus to interact directly with a consumer throughout the useful life of the product. That is, the system is configured to allow the OEM to manage the product and the interaction between the consumer and the OEM from product conception to consumption, i.e. the products useful life or from cradle to grave.
  • The OEM/consumer direct product network reduces start-up expenses associated with new market entrants. For instance, a new company or new product could be rapidly launched throughout a large geographic territory without experiencing the delay to recruit, train and equip a dealership network. A national or international launch could be supported by a single web site and a single or limited number of OEM supported facilities or locations. The OEM can also easily control the trade-in and used equipment markets. Those OEM substantial enough to do so may also provide financial support for product purchases and the like. The OEM supported repair systems can also offer a final disposal and/or recycling service to the customer. Such services further enhance and diversify the OEM revenue streams. Accordingly, rather than being strapped with the hindrances of a dealership network, an OEM operating according to the present invention would readily appreciate the product and revenue performance associated with the direct communication of goods and services between the OEM and the end use consumer.
  • Therefore, a method of developing a product according to one embodiment includes conceiving a general idea of a desired product. A commercial distribution network is selected for disseminating the desired product. The general idea of the desired product is altered to satisfy requirements of the commercial distribution network.
  • Another embodiment includes a method of providing an engine driven product. The method includes manufacturing of an engine driven product in accordance with receipt of an order from an end user of the engine driven product. The engine driven product is scheduled to be shipped to the end user via a common carrier. The engine driven product is constructed for separation into a power component and a frame component. The power component and the frame component are separately packaged into packages that satisfy shipping requirements of the common carrier. The separately packaged power and frame components are shipped directly to the end user via the common carrier.
  • A method of managing a product according to a further embodiment includes manufacturing an engineered engine driven recreational device. The engine driven recreational device is sold directly to a consumer. The engine driven recreational device is delivered directly from a manufacturer to the consumer and is serviced by personnel that are common to the manufacture of the engine driven recreation device.
  • In sum, the inventive method is beneficial because it involves equipment specifically designed to be easy to package and ship to the end-user. The end user can then assemble and use with minor adjustments such as the addition of oil, gas, and battery power. This equipment is also easy to disassemble so that it may be packed and shipped back to the OEM for maintenance or repair. It is also then easy for the consumer to reassemble it once it is received back from the OEM.
  • An additional benefit from using the inventive method is that the OEM can increase its profit margin substantially because it has eliminated the middleman, i.e., the dealership. Alternatively, the OEM can reduce the price of the product because there is no dealer middleman. Of course, the OEM could do both reduce price and increase profit relative to OEMs that are forced to work with dealerships.
  • Although the best mode contemplated by the inventor of carrying out the present invention is disclosed above, practice of the present invention is not limited thereto. It will be manifest that various additions, modifications and rearrangements of the features of the present invention may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the underlying inventive concept. It is intended that the appended claims cover all such additions, modifications and rearrangements. Expedient embodiments of the present invention are differentiated by the appended claims.

Claims (21)

  1. 1. A method of developing a product comprising:
    conceiving a general idea of a desired product;
    selecting a commercial distribution network for disseminating the desired product; and
    altering the general idea of the desired product to satisfy requirements of the commercial distribution network.
  2. 2. The method of claim 1 wherein altering the general idea of the desired product includes configuring the desired product to be broken down into a number of constituent parts.
  3. 3. The method of claim 2 wherein the constituent parts include one or more of an engine system, a frame system, and a control system.
  4. 4. The method of claim 1 wherein the commercial distribution network specifies a type of product and parcel configuration that is transportable.
  5. 5. The method of claim 1 further comprising configuring the desired product to be returned directly to a manufacturer from an end user via the commercial distribution network.
  6. 6. The method of claim 1 further comprising configuring the desired product to be maintained by an original equipment manufacturer for the life of the desired product from cradle to grave.
  7. 7. A method of providing an engine driven product comprising:
    manufacturing an engine driven product;
    receiving an order from an end user of the engine driven product;
    scheduling shipping of the engine driven product to the end user via a common carrier;
    constructing the engine driven product for separation into a power component and a frame component;
    separately packaging the power component and the frame component into packages that satisfy shipping requirements of the common carrier; and
    shipping the separately packaged power and frame components directly to the end user.
  8. 8. The method of claim 7 wherein the common carrier dictates one or more of a parcel size, a parcel weight, and a parcel shape.
  9. 9. The method of claim 7 further comprising managing assembly, distribution, and servicing of the engine driven product at common locations.
  10. 10. The method of claim 7 further comprising designing each of the power components and the frame components to be able to be broken down into a number of smaller assemblies.
  11. 11. The method of claim 7 further comprising requiring the end user to provide consumable materials that are barred from transport by the common carrier.
  12. 12. The method of claim 11 wherein the consumable materials are further defined as one or more of gas, oil, and a battery
  13. 13. The method of claim 7 further comprising configuring the packaging to be reusable for return of one of the frame component and the power component directly to an original equipment manufacturer.
  14. 14. The method of claim 7 further comprising providing a removable fuel tank and a removable oil reservoir.
  15. 15. A method of managing a product comprising:
    engineering an engine driven recreational device;
    manufacturing the engine driven recreational device;
    selling the engine driven recreational device direct to a consumer;
    delivering the engine driven recreational device directly from a manufacturer to the consumer; and
    servicing the engine driven device with personnel common to the manufacturing of the engine driven recreation device.
  16. 16. The method of claim 15 wherein the engine driven recreational device is delivered directly from the manufacturer to the consumer via a common carrier.
  17. 17. The method of claim 16 wherein the common carrier specifies at least one of a weight, a shape, and a content of packages associated with the engine driven recreational device.
  18. 18. The method of claim 17 further comprising breaking down the engine driven recreational device into a power system and a frame system.
  19. 19. The method of claim 18 further comprising requiring the consumer to independently acquire consumable materials associated with operation of the engine driven recreational device.
  20. 20. The method of claim 15 wherein the engine driven recreation device is one of a four-wheeler, a personal watercraft, and a two-wheeled product.
  21. 21. The method of claim 20 wherein the personal watercraft is constructed to support a rider in a prone position.
US11855248 2006-06-05 2007-09-14 Product Development and Management Methodologies Abandoned US20080047861A1 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

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US11446653 US7426896B2 (en) 2006-06-05 2006-06-05 Prone operator position personal watercraft
US11695360 US7507128B2 (en) 2006-06-05 2007-04-02 Power system for watercraft
US11855248 US20080047861A1 (en) 2006-06-05 2007-09-14 Product Development and Management Methodologies

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US11855248 US20080047861A1 (en) 2006-06-05 2007-09-14 Product Development and Management Methodologies
US13896575 US20130247808A1 (en) 2006-06-05 2013-05-17 Personal Watercraft

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US11695360 Continuation-In-Part US7507128B2 (en) 2006-06-05 2007-04-02 Power system for watercraft

Related Child Applications (1)

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US13896575 Continuation US20130247808A1 (en) 2006-06-05 2013-05-17 Personal Watercraft

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