Product Analysis

This is part of the module Industrial and Commercial Products and Practices (R1).

The questions always follow the same format - there will be a diagram of a product folowed by a description.

The questions will then follow the assessment criteria chart.

Take careful note of the assessment criteria.

Assessment Criteria

Outline the product specification for this product. - function, purpose, performance, market, aesthetics/characteristics, quality standards, safety. Give details for each point.


Justify the choice of materials or components/systems properties/characteristics, materials

2 x 3
Explain the level of production - be able to give FOUR reasons why this product is one-off, batch or mass produced

Describe the stages of production for this product. Include references to industrial manufacturing methods. Stages of production including:

  • preparation
  • processing
  • assembly
  • finishing

Discuss quality issues for this product.

  • quality control in production
  • quality standards

Discuss product health and safety issues associated with this product and its production.

  • safety in the use of the product
  • safety procedures in production

Discuss the appeal of this product. Aesthetic qualities including:

  • form and function
  • fashion trends/styles
  • cultural influences
Quality of written communication (SPAG) but also using the correct terms (vocabulary)
Total marks

How to get more marks

Write in black, never use red biro.

Clearly write the question part (e.g. 1a) at the start of your answer and then rule a line across the page at the end of each section.

Do not write notes - use proper sentences which justify your points. No one word answers.

There are some areas of overlap especially with quality of the product, quality control and safety. Take care when describing these areas.

Note the number of marks for the question and then answer fully, so that you get all the marks. (There are 16 marks for the section on industrial manufacturing - the chief examiners report notes that this is a common area for weakness.)

Use suitable diagrams especially when answering about industrial production methods.

Use the correct technical vocabulary. e.g. A suitable finish for aluminium would be anodising.

Always relate your answers to the question being asked - e.g. write about the aesthetics of the product in the question.

Revise. Use the text book which covers everything you need to know. Read old papers and look at the mark schemes. Read the examiners reports.



Product design specification

1. Purpose -what is the aim of the product - what is it for?

2. Function - what should the product do to achieve its purpose and how should it be made to do it - what does it do and how does it work?

3. Market - who is to be the target purchaser and the user - who will buy it and who is it bought for? e.g. toys bought for children by parents.

4. Performance- includes ergonomics - how well does the user interact with the product? Is it comfortable? Does it fit? Is it adjustable? Is it well suited to the environment in which it will be used?

5. Aesthetics - the appearance, is it it appropriate for its purpose? Does the surface finish or general appearance have an additional purpose such as water resistance, easy to clean or to give a better grip?

6. Quality standards - quality versus cost. The quality of manufacture and materials used must be appropriate for the performance and purpose of the product.

ISO 9000 is primarily concerned with "quality management". This means what the organization does to fulfil:

- the customer's quality requirements, and
- applicable regulatory requirements, while aiming to
- enhance customer satisfaction, and
- achieve continual improvement of its performance in pursuit of these objectives.

7. Safety - safety of the product in use. Must meet relevant standards such as British Standards etc. BSI "Kitemark" and "Safety Mark" The European Union "EC" mark is another standard. ISO standards are also important.

Materials and Components

When choosing materials for a product understanding its properties will be essential. The correct choice will also be a balance of cost, availability and working characteristics.

Properties of materials (click to go to materials page)

Components are:-

  1. Standard components which are bought in e.g. nuts and bolts, electronic components, motors, bulbs. This is usually the cheapest option as these products are mass produced in vast quantities so that unit costs are very low.
  2. Specialised components which are used on only one product or only by that manufacturer. This gives the product its individuality e.g. switches, handles and feet, fascias. It will also in some cases be a major part of the product - e.g. a jug kettle where the plastic jug body is a component.
  3. Sub-assemblies such as electronic circuits, gear boxes, key pads and control systems can be manufactured elsewhere in the factory or by sub-contractors and then included in the final assembly.

Manufacturers primary concern is producing their product effectively and making a profit. They will optimise their manufacturing methods and purchasing of components to their advantage i.e. if it is cost effective to sub-contract a sub-assembly then that is likely to happen. Look at JIT in the manufacturing section.

Levels of Production - one-off, batch, mass, continuous.(click for link)

Levels of Production will influence:

  1. retail price
  2. choice
  3. the process of manufacture
  4. where the product is manufactured

For each of these which level of production will be the cheapest/most expensive. Which will give the consumer the least choice/most choice. Which needs to be near good transport and power links. Which is the most expensive to set up. Which would make use of jigs. Which would use automated machines and robots the most. Would CNC machines be used for one-off production (the answer here is most definitely yes).

Stages of Production

  1. Preparation or Primary processing - raw materials are converted into usable stock or initial product form. Includes rolling, drawing and casting for metals, the manufacture of boards such as MDF laminated with maple veneer, the conversion of logs into sectioned timber,the preparation of plastic granules for injection moulding, plastic sheet for vacuum forming etc.
  2. Processing or Secondary Processing - changing the form of the materials by further operations, usually some form of machining. Includes drilling, turning, die casting, injection moulding etc. This stage may have many sections or operations. Manufacturing processes (click for link)
  3. Assembly - all the components are brought together to produce the final product. This may be on a production line. Parts may be joined using a range of fixings or fasteners, they may be welded, soldered or glued.
  4. Finishing - painting, plating, polishing, dip coating etc. These processes are applied before (usually) or after assembly.
  5. Quality control is usually an integral part of the manufacturing process rather than at the end. Testing, inspection and data analysis of the processes ensures a quality outcome for the product. Safety testing is included here.

ISO 9000 is the European standard for quality and safety

British Standards is the organisation dealing with quality and safety

Product Quality Issues

See above but especially deal with quality control in production and how it would be met, refer to the standards - BSI Kitemark, EC and ISO9000. Quality of the product in use -do a simple evaluation!

Health and Safety

This is easier, first deal with safety of the product in use, is it safe in use - well balanced, no sharp edges, stable in use (Will it tip over?), electrical safety (trailing leads etc). Be critical(good & bad) and also suggest improvements.

Secondly deal with safety issues in production - machine guards, dust extraction, good lighting,noise, electrical safety, as well as personal safety such as eye protection and protective clothing. Training, maintenance, working conditions (lighting, overcrowding and poor housekeeping) are also safety issues. (Health and Safety act at Work legislation makes the employee responsible for their own safety.)

Your answer must relate to the product and its manufacture.

Aesthetic Qualities

  1. Form
  2. Function
  3. Trend/styles
  4. Cultural

You can discuss two in detail or all four in less detail to gain the eight marks. You must discuss the product in the question.

When discussing FORM you may include not only shape but colour, surface texture, feel -heavy or light, warm or cold, optical properties such as shiny or matt, how it makes you feel (does it remind you of something)etc. You can of course be critical and discuss why you you do not like it and how its form could be improved - more comfortable handles, smoother edges and corners etc.

Function is essentially what it does and how it works - discuss how well - evaluate it! Safety can be mentioned again here.

Trend/Styles - a good test of your design education. You ould relate the products design to what you know about Modernism and the Bauhaus - ' truth to the material' and 'form follows function', or the way modern materials such as polymers(plastics) make the design possible. The idea of a quality product versus a consumer product with built in obsolesence (a short lifespan because of lower quality parts and materials).

Link To Bauhaus site