The Impact of Novelty on Ramp-up Manufacturing


Novelty in various guises drives the performance improvement curve that is observed during the initial introduction of new products into manufacturing. The management of the introduction of both new process technology and new products into manufacturing presents a serious challenges to companies. This research project is developing a framework using the concept of learning to link novelty to this performance curve drawing on the literature and also on various case studies. Although the literature specifically pertaining to initial commercial, or ramp-up, manufacturing is sparse there is a consensus in academia and industry that this period is crucial to many product's success. The framework development therefore draws heavily on the numerous studies of new product introduction, learning and manufacturing, and the impact of design on manufacturing.



The aim of this research is to develop a conceptual framework describing how novelty impacts ramp-up manufacturing performance.



  • To develop a framework capturing the factors which are indicative of the impact of a new product and its associated novelty on the manufacturing operation.
  • To construct a management tool based on the framework which will aid companies in better managing their response to the novelty introduced with a new product.

Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework is continually being refined as information about the mechanism through which novelty impacts manufacturing is gleaned from the case study data. Here it is presented in its current form.



Case Study A

The case considers a new product platform introduced into three new production lines starting up next to two existing lines, which are eventually replaced by the new lines. All five dimensions of novelty as presented in the framework above directly impact manufacturing performance. The results from Case Study A have been summarised in terms of the novelty, learning and ramp-up performance concepts contained in the conceptual framework and are listed in the following table. The problems introduced through the five novelty dimensions are listed in the novelty column, thereafter the learning response of the organisation and finally the impact on the ramp-up performance. 



Induced Learning

Ramp-up Performance

  • Changes to design late in new platform development
  • Process adapted for changes
  • Assembly more labour intensive
  • Faults in production


Induced Learning

Ramp-up Performance

  • Bottleneck operation uses different suppliers for jigs and equipment
  • Adjusting jig and equipment for better fit
  • Production delays during adjustments

Product Mix

Induced Learning

Ramp-up Performance

  • Product mix demand different from forecast 
  • Process adapted by purchase of appropriate jigs
  • Production rate slowdown


Induced Learning

Ramp-up Performance

  • Tooling quality issues for new supplier
  • Rework of tooling
  • Production delayed and products stockpiled at penultimate production stage


Induced Learning

Ramp-up Performance

  • Proportion of temporary workers to compensate for direct permanent workers on holiday
  • Training
  • Production rate slowdown
  • Slower increase in production rate

Autonomous Learning

  • Learning by repetition



  • Erik van der Merwe
  • Gerry Frizelle



Ramp-up Manufacturing Period: The period of initial commercial manufacture of a new product until volume production is achieved.



  • "A framework for manufacturing ramp-up", presented at PICMET 2003 international conference in Portland, Oregon. This paper discusses the initial derivation and validation of the conceptual framework.
  • "Novelty as driver of manufacturing performance: A case study", presented at EurOMA-POMS 2003 conference in Como, Italy. This paper contains a ramp-up manufacturing case study and its impact on the conceptual framework.
  • "The complexity of novelty in ramp-up manufacturing", presented as invited paper at Design Complexity Meeting of the Manufacturing Complexity Network in Milton Keynes, UK.


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