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6.23 - The Product Design Specification


The Product Design Specification (PDS) differs from the design brief. The Design Brief says what is required and the PDS says how it will be delivered. Lately many design operations have used Quality Function Deployment (QFD) to link the user wants to the manufacturing processes to make the product. To assist with that work we have included this guide on the PDS that provides a list of elements to be considered.

PDS Sections

The PDS is a living document that must be under change control and cover the following elements:-

  • Product Performance
  • Operating Environment
  • Service Life (for an Individual Product)
  • Maintenance Requirements
  • Target Cost
  • Competition
  • Shipping
  • Packing
  • Annual Production Quantities
  • Manufacturing Location or Facilities
  • Size and Weight
  • Aesthetics, Appearance and Finish
  • Materials
  • Product Life Span (in the market)
  • Standards and Specifications
  • Ergonomics
  • Customer(s)
  • Product Quality and Reliability
  • Storage (or Shelf) Life
  • Processes required for manufacture
  • Timescales (or lead time to market)
  • Testing
  • Company Constraints
  • Market Constraints
  • Patents, literature and product data
  • Political and social implications
  • Installation
  • Energy consumption (or Carbon Footprint)
  • User Training
  • Sales Potential
  • Product and User Documentation
  • Disposal

Preparation Guidelines

  1. The PDS is a control document representing the specification of what is to be achieved.
  2. As this is a user document it must be written in clear and understandable terms.
  3. It should not be written as an essay. Use short clear statements under each heading.
  4. As early as possible make quantitative statements for each area, if necessary make an estimate and qualify it as such.
  5. By its very nature the PDS will be dynamic as, hopefully, each new product it describes will be unique. Therefore, the PDS must be uniquely numbered, dated and subject to document control procedures with clearly recorded issue and amendment audit trail.
  6. The document will also be dynamic as agreement to the actual product definition will change as information emerges as design proceeds. Some elements will be clarified and refined. Others may be dropped altogether as market or customer requirements are solidified.
Further Reading