October 20, 2007

Operations Management Lesson 4 Exercise


The product selected to analyse using the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) tool is the ‘electronic key fob (EKF)’ used to securely lock and alarm vehicle doors. The QFD chart will ensure that the features most valued by customers are highlighted and prioritised for inclusion in the preliminary design of the product.



In the consideration of ‘what’ are the customers key needs, the first priorities are to factor in what the product is designed to actually do:

  1. Security – The EKF was invented to improve the security of your vehicle and also increase the ease in which it’s done. Therefore this is also the most important design feature.
  2. Reliability – The EKF needs to be reliable, otherwise the vehicle is left unsecured or inoperable as it cannot be accessed or driven. This is the second most important feature, as if you can’t rely on the product to do what its designed to do it provides little to no value.
  3. Repair & Replacement – Although a key requirement is the product should be reliable, in the event that the EKF does become inoperable or is lost it needs to be easily repaired or replaced to enable the vehicle to be returned to its operable state rather it being as useful as a heap of metal.
  4. Size – The EKF is taken with you when you leave the vehicle so needs to be easily carried in a pocket or bag.
  5. Durability – The EKF is used by many people on a daily basis and is often left in pockets and bags, where it’s liable to being squashed or bashed around.
  6. Transmission Distance – The EKF may need to be operated from a distance, in which case the transmission distance needs to enable the vehicle security to be turned on and off from a range of distances.
  7. Design – The EKF should be aesthetically pleasing.

In the consideration of ‘how’ the customer’s key needs are provided, the following areas are utilised:

  • Technology – To deliver the wireless electronic security coding, provide consistency and reliability, minimise space and enable transmission distance.
  • Foldaway key – To minimise the use of space and provide design innovation.
  • Fob material – To provide a tough casing to protect the technology, deliver a reliable and durable product and give a good product appearance.
  • Battery – To minimise space and provide long term reliability and repair, when drained.

There are few interdependencies between the ‘Hows’ of this product, with the only relationships being between the battery driving the technology and the fob material needing to support the foldaway key mechanism.

There is a wide range of relationships between the ‘Whats’ and ‘Hows’, with Technology being the most significant factor in delivering the majority and also most important product features, which include product security, reliability, size and durability. The second most important feature is the battery, which powers the Technology. The next most important is the fob material, which enables the durability and the product design and the least important is the foldaway key, which reduces the key size and provides a neat and innovative design.

The EKF replaced the traditional turn key, with the new product significantly improving vehicle security. However, with this improvement in the most important ‘what’ has come a decline in the competitive score of the next three most important features (reliability, size and durability) as the new technology requires extra space and adds additional components which increase the risk of the product becoming unreliable or damaged from use.

The largest movements in the competitive score are the transmission distance being significantly increased from effectively 0 cms to many meters with the EKF. However, the ease of repair of replacement has significant fallen with the EKF because of its additional complexity requiring greater expertise to fi, which are not as widely available (this assumes that people have a spare key that can be copied, rather than replacing the car locks). Although these features (transmission distance and repair & replacement) have significant competitiveness implications, they are two of the three least important features to customers.


  • Slack, N., Chambers, S., Johnston, R., Betts, A. (2006) Operations and Process Management, London: FT Prentice Hall
  • Walley, P. (2007) The Warwick MBA: Operations Management, Coventry: University of Warwick

- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Hi Chris,

    again the ”§ ” is a little hard to read and makes it hard to follow your points…

    I suggest that you re-arrange your points along the “QFD Practice Note” from the CD material of the book by Slack et al. to make it (at least for me) more readable.


    27 Oct 2007, 13:22

  2. Richard Wheeler


    I’m sorry I didn’t comment on this earlier. I was confused by the fact that you originally posted a title with very little else, so there was nothing to prompt me that you had gone back to complete it.

    The ” “s are very confusing and need removing.

    You seem to have the principles essentially correct.

    I’m not too sure about using the word “Technology”. After all, battery is a facet of technology. Be more specific.

    28 Oct 2007, 20:42

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