The Product Innovation Process

Being a premium brand and a preferred supplier that creates customer value demands high levels of innovation, as well as the highest possible levels of quality and design. Sustainability is at the heart of it all.

The ASSA ABLOY product innovation process is based on lean innovation principles and consists of several modules, including product management, voice of the customer and efficient delivery of innovation projects.

The product management module addresses long-term trends and generation planning of products and technologies. With voice of the customer methods, information about customer needs is collected and forms the foundation for the development of relevant, value-creating offerings. Efficient delivery of innovation projects ensures elimination of waste related to products and processes, as well as delivery of high-quality products.

Understanding long-term trends and planning for the future

In the product management process, ASSA ABLOY looks at long-term social, political, technological and customer trends, market development, standards and regulatory development. With this knowledge as a starting point, generation plans are laid out for new products and for the development of entirely new technologies. Long-term trends indicate a steadily increasing focus on sustainability driven by, for example, the depletion of important raw materials and the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These factors result in stricter regulations and increased demand for more sustainable solutions – all of which ASSA ABLOY must take into account in the long-term planning of products and technologies.

The reduce-reuse-recycle principle that guides us in product innovation also comes into play in our long-term planning, as we need to consider service, upgradability, exchangeability and new business models in our generation planning.

Delivering what customers want

For several reasons, it is important to understand the customers’ needs in relation to sustainability. Most obviously, ASSA ABLOY needs to deliver sustainable products that customers understand and want to buy. If the group develops world-class sustainable solutions that no one buys, nothing has been improved. If a new smart door seal is developed and the door is not closed properly, the target has also been missed.

Understanding our customers is therefore essential. This includes understanding their needs, their business ­models and challenges, as well as their knowledge levels. ASSA ABLOY must also understand their ability to comprehend, accept and embrace various concepts, as well as what they are prepared and able to pay for.

The ASSA ABLOY voice of the customer process looks at everything from longer-term customer needs and trends to highly detailed choices related to specific products or components.

Lean principles and methods reduces inefficiencies and waste

New innovation projects are developed in a similar way across the group and based on the reduce-reuse-recycle principle. The way projects are run is documented in the gateway process and communicated in the lean innovation instructions.

The process encourages “up front loading” to ensure development of “the right things” before focusing on efficient project execution. In practice, this means that concepts must be carefully evaluated and tested against customer needs and sustainability should be considered before moving into the engineering design phase.

When a concept is validated and approved, it is further developed during the specification and design phase. To ensure all sustainability aspects are taken into consideration in the development of the product and the manufacturing process, the gateway process requires all project leaders to apply the environmental checklist before they are given the go-ahead to proceed beyond the process and design stage. The checklist is a reminder of all areas that should be taken into account in relation to sustainability when developing a new product, such as packaging, the use of process chemicals, logistics concepts, and so on.

Improving the innovation process

To further strengthen the innovation process in regard to sustainability, a global council has been assigned that represents various functions within innovation and design, as well as the various divisions in the group. This council develops and shares best practices within the ASSA ABLOY Group, reviews methods and tools that can further support ASSA ABLOY in its development work and also formulates measures, targets and communication policies.

The global council will also coordinate the development of value-chain analysis related to key product groups and environmental risk areas. The results of the analyses will be made available to the developing units to support and focus their sustainable design efforts.