On page 317, we discuss the “process and system design stage” of the innovation process – the idea that not only do you need to create a new product, but you also have to design the way in which it will be manufactured. This is the issue of “scaling up”. Generally speaking as the volume of production increases the unit cost of the product goes, due to economies of scale. But the relationship between volume and unit cost is rarely linear – there will always be some R&D costs and production set-up costs at the front end, and productive capacity is likely to increase in step changes rather than smoothly.
This is not a topic that gets discussed much, so we were interested in The Guardian‘s expert panel’s views on this. Unfortunately the 17 suggestions that they make are mostly not related to scaling up, despite the headline – they are more about innovation in general. Still interesting and insightful though.
Such is the challenge of scaling up, the government has set up the Centre for Process Innovation to assist manufacturers and innovators in this process, as this video explains.