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Perceived Quality in Dimensional Engineering: Making a First Impression Count

by Benjamin Reese, on Apr 16, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Perceived Quality in Dimensional Engineering: Making a First Impression Count


How the perception of a product's quality can be as important as the actual quality.

If words can be trendy then perceived quality is “in” right now. From engineering publications to water cooler talk, there’s a buzz. But perceived quality is just that – perceived. Unfortunately, this means it does not always translate into actual quality. A product may rate high in perceived quality, but have poor functionality or durability, for example. So why all the hype? Shouldn’t actual quality demand any design or production team’s full attention? Well, not exactly. Here’s why perceived quality matters and how your team can best take advantage of it.

First, let’s be clear: actual quality is important.

Vital, in fact. But regardless of whether a product’s appearance directly reflects its actual quality, taking it into account is important. Consumers use their perception of a brand and/or product to assist them in making purchasing decisions. And high visual quality does make a difference. Characteristics like fit and finish matter. Think of it as your first introduction to a customer: You only have one chance to make a good first impression. When it comes to presenting products to consumers, you better make sure it’s a good one.

So, how do we test the perceived quality of our products? 

More importantly, can we do this early enough to make changes to the design in case we find something that we don't like?

RTT Deltagen Add-on Presentation
3DCS RTT Deltagen Add-on Flash Presentation Output - clickable scenarios on the right to be viewed in 3D on any Flash supported device

Simulation software offers one avenue for companies to achieve perceived quality. For example, DCS has an add-on to their 3D Simulation software call 3DCS RTT Deltagen, which allows engineers to create 3-D, photo realistic assessments of fit and function assembly requirements and then play with variations on a visual level. This way, they can define, analyze and modify dimensional requirements before the design has solidified. Then by the time it is solidified, the product’s dimensional requirements will be directly in alignment with market quality perspectives. And it will all happen before perceived quality has the chance to negatively impact development or manufacturing costs – in terms of time and budget. This also means that the decisions made about the vehicles appearance don't arrive at a plant managers feet while the vehicles are rolling off the lot. Nothing like getting changes and modifications after production has already begun, am I right?



This is just a basic example. Imagine looking at the door to body gaps, and viewing a number of possible scenarios that fit within your design parameters. With one gap at maximum, and one at minimum, will it make your door look crooked?  

Perceived Quality studies are helpful in more industries than just automotive. Aircraft interiors, especially corporate jets and high end models, need to look as impressive as they are. After pouring millions into design and manufacturing to create an incredible product, there cannot be anything worse than having one interior gap off and a customer point it out.

Electronics have an ever increasing number of parts, creating more opportunities for mis-alignmnets, and even big companies need to be mindful of the impression their products give. For example, the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 phones. The Nexus 5 is a huge upgrade in specifications, but when released, had some poor feedback about its appearance and usability. Google issued a new device with alterations in an attempt to protect their product image. Basically, they created a better product than they had before, but with a lower perceived quality, and were suffering because of it. 

We posted a previous post about Fit and Finish with the iPhone. That article talks about Apple's efforts to make sure their product has an appearance to match its quality. This is true with all Apple products as well. The perception of their products, the way it feels and looks, boosts its reputation as a quality product. 

So, what are we getting at? 

It is key to check how the specifications of your product will look before building it. 

To do this, DCS recommends Specification Studies, or Spec Studies. These are possible in any version of 3DCS, and consist of tolerance scenarios that depict the extremes in your design that are still possible within your upper and lower specification limits. These are a quick and easy way to test your Perceived Quality. You can take one step further and use high-end visualization to get a clear picture of your product, taking into account variation from manufacturing. 

Mechanical High End Vis Study

Using a successful perceived quality process allows companies to make sure their product creates perceptions that reflect its actual quality. Then, on first encounters, consumers will answer affirmatively when they subconsciously ask themselves: Does this look and feel like a quality product? Then they’ll be pleased once they learn that the actual qualities meet their expectations. And they’ll have the chance to find out. Because you’ve made that first impression count.

Interested in more? Let DCS show you how you can take advantage of high-end visualization in your enterprise.

Click Here to Request your Free Demo today!

Topics:CATIA3DCSPerceived QualityTolerance Analysis


Engineering Talk - DCS's Blog on Quality and Engineering

Engineering Talk's focus is on discussing topics in dimensional and manufacturing quality to help inform professionals about current trends and technologies that are quickly becoming adopted in industry to combat common causes of manufacturing costs - scrap, rework. In addition, you'll find details about all of DCS's activities from webinars, events, articles, and software releases. 

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