Before starting mass manufacturing of a consumer product, you need to manufacture three test volumes: EVT, DVT, and PVT. These tests help identify the risk of production errors and eliminate possible defects.
An engineering validation test, EVT, is a prototype production that mimics final design functionality. A prototype run is a low volume production of lower quality. It often combines engineering and design and aims to create a minimum viable product that's only a few steps of modification from achieving the final product for mass production.
During this stage, your engineering team will realize potential hardware defects and blend earlier prototype versions to create one that looks and performs something close to the product designer’s vision.
A design validation test, DVT, aims at testing the manufacturability of the product. You start by creating 50-200 products using the same production process you intend to use in mass production. Next, you test these units in all relevant ways to confirm their reliability and durability. At the end of this stage, you should identify and correct all possible production problems.
The production validation test, PVT, is performed after the products have passed the EVT and DVT stages and are deemed suitable for consumption. After this stage, your team embarks on the first official production. They also run a quality assurance, QA, and quality control, QC, to ensure the efficiency of your supply chain.
At this stage, your engineering team incorporates and optimizes the crucial functional scope of the product. They develop an engineering-level beta prototype containing all the functionalities of the intended end-user product. However, the prototype is a minimum viable option of the final product, designed review of functionality.
The product developed at this stage is used for lab-based user testing by a group of lead users. After successful testing, this group provides approval or feature changes required to move into subsequent development stages. These prototypes may also act as demonstration units in the team's first sales meetings.
Various tests are performed during the EVT stage depending on what your product does and the environment it works in. These may include:
The objective of running an EVT test is to test the functionality of the components you want to include in your product by carrying independent pre-studies of each part. During the above tests, the team will identify any issues that need rectifying before designing the final product.
Next, they use the existing components to produce prototypes with the expected vital functionalities. They then integrate the prototype with the proof of concept, PoC, to reach a fixed scope that your product can achieve at the end of the EVT. Finally, the team combines the look-like and work-like prototypes into one form factor, selects the main function features, and identifies any design issues that need fixing.
At this stage, the product starts to become genuinely industrialized. Unlike EVT, which focuses on the architectural level of the manufacturing, the DVT level aims at getting all the details right as the manufacturing nears mass production. During DVT, the engineers perform debugging and denoising to develop the first hard tool for every component to verify yield requirements.
The team produces between 50-200 products, sometimes more, and sends them for an in-house evaluation and final engineering changes. The team performs the following tests depending on your line of products:
The DVT phase aims to produce prototypes with full functionality using processes designed for mass production. These prototypes can be used for certification and identification of potential problems that need resolving before producing the final product at the end of this stage.
Once your product passes the necessary tests, you can also send some of the samples as beta units to potential customers and expert reviewers for a first-hand opinion of your products.
PVT is the final phase before mass production. At this stage, your manufacturing team doesn't involve any changes to the production design or production molds. Instead, they focus on finalizing the complex tooling for production.
The PVT stage optimizes and stabilizes the production and assembly line's speed, operation, and daily yield. Its success depends on the availability of all components, materials, and processes required in mass production. Your team determines that the final product meets the desired design and functionality requirements at the end of this stage.
This stage involves the following tests:
During these tests, the team performs risk management protocols to identify any weak points in your product, fix them, and test the product again. You can use at least 5% of the first production quantity for PVT. The objective of performing this final test is to verify mass production of the product and create sellable products.
This phase creates one last chance for your manufacturing team to tweak the production process. They can determine whether mass production is ready by stage-gating it into different red, orange, and green stages. The red in this case means that the team needs to perform some significant tweaking, orange means some minor changes, and green signifies that mass production is ready.
EVT, DVT, and PVT phases of product manufacturing take varying times. How long you take in each stage determines when you can mass produce your product. However, each stage is essential, and missing any details or making wrong decisions can reduce yield, increase manufacturing costs and lengthy delays.
Each stage is also necessary to produce a quality product that meets your customer’s needs. Even if you are not building a consumer product, you may want to consider using a validation-based phase-gate approach in your development. This approach ensures an optimal trajectory towards mass production and uses minimum resources.
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