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                                   Stage-Gate® at Voith Paper Fabrics –
                                       Greater customer benefit through faster
                                       product development

                                               As a world leader in paper machine fabrics, Voith Paper
                                   Fabrics works in a global product development environment. These
Arved Westerkamp
                                   activities are centrally managed by the R&D/Technology Center in
Voith Paper Fabrics         Pfullingen, Germany, where our basic research and process devel-
                                   opment is also located.

During restructuring of the Voith Paper        Due to the complexity of manufacturing      In the next phase, the overall system was
Fabrics R&D/Technology organization, a         technology, our forming wires, press        established and employee training and
very effective customer-oriented develop-      felts, dryer fabrics and transfer/smooth-   system introduction was started.
ment process was introduced. This en-          ing belts are developed in close team-
ables flexible compliance with customer        work with the respective Voith production
requirements and the systematic develop-       plants for each sales region worldwide,     The Stage-Gate® process
ment of Voith Paper products in team-          centrally coordinated in Pfullingen.
work.                                                                                      The Stage-Gate ® process is a phased
                                                                                           product development model, each stage
The result is a solid know-how basis,          Introduction of the                         of which is handled as a ‘mini-project’
that, together with basic research activi-     Stage-Gate® project manage-                 embedded in the overall project struc-
ties, makes a valuable contribution to the     ment system                                 ture. This not only enables optimal re-
development of future-oriented manufac-                                                    source allocation among parallel projects,
turing technologies.                           After extensive studies, the Stage-Gate ®   but also the efficient monitoring of inter-
                                               project management system was globally      mediate goals and definition of break-off
Thanks to clearly defined responsibilities     introduced in the Voith Paper Fabrics       criteria.
in the development fields of forming,          R&D/Technology organization for the fol-
pressing, drying, materials and process        lowing reasons:                             In contrast to the conventional milestone
technology, product development trans-                                                     plan, there is much more emphasis there-
parency and focusing have greatly im-          ● It enables the central management         by on setting gates as hard, clearly de-
proved. By integrating sales and market-         of development projects, involving        fined limits. Only if the respective gate-
ing activities at an early stage in develop-     several locations worldwide               keeper gives the go-ahead, can the pro-
ment projects and joining forces with all      ● Systematic resource management            ject be continued. In case of a ‘kill’ deci-
the Voith Paper divisions, we can now          ● Portfolio management can be more          sion, the project is immediately terminat-
concentrate much more intensively on             efficiently structured for meeting        ed. If it is decided to redirect the project,
customer needs.                                  customer needs and developing new         the next gate cannot be passed until this
                                                 technologies                              has been done.
By highlighting specific customer prob-        ● Product development is integrated in
lems, cooperation with our applications          the overall business process
specialists for all the various paper          ● Joint projects within Voith Paper can     Structure of the
grades enables us to develop innovative          controlled and managed more effi-         Stage-Gate® process
solutions more rapidly.                          ciently.
                                                                                           As indicated by its name, the Stage-Gate ®
                                                                                           process is made up of stages (project
                                                                                           phases) and gates.


                                                                                                  Schematic flow chart of the Stage-Gate ® process,
                                                                                                  with typical integration of various responsibilities
                                                                                                  during the course of a development project.

    Stage 0                 Stage 1              Stage 2            Stage 3              Stage 4                    Stage 5
    Idea                    Preliminary          Detailed           Development          Full Scale                 Market
    Generation              Investigation        Study                                   Market Test                Introduction

                       Gate 1               Gate 2              Gate 3              Gate 4                     Gate 5                   Gate 6
                       Gentle               Heavy               Retain only         Release for                Release for              Review
                       screening            screening           most promising      market test                market launch            results,
                                                                projects                                                                terminate
R&D-Management                                                                                                                          project

Business Development
Finance, Controlling

Stages                                           product launch, followed by revalidation         the “backroom boys”, but handled as
The first stage is idea generation, a            after assessing the experience gained            actual business processes.
kind of brainstorming phase where ideas          thereby.
are collected and structured.
                                                 Gates                                            Customer benefits
Then comes the preliminary investiga-            These five or six project phases are sepa-
tion stage, where rough estimates are            rated by gates, where decisions are made         Including customer requirements at an
made of technical feasibility, the project       by the respective gatekeepers according          early stage in the selection process is an
costs and timeframe involved, and the            to defined criteria. Only three decisions        important step toward interdisciplinary,
potential market volume.                         are possible:                                    customer-oriented product development.
                                                                                                  Well structured decision-making during
This is followed by the detailed study           Go: continue the development project.            the course of the defined project se-
stage, involving a thorough investigation        Kill: terminate the project immediately          quence enables reproducible, resource-
of all factors including the market situa-       while safeguarding all findings and know-        optimized development.
tion, technical and technological solu-          how gained so far.
tions, financial analysis, etc.                  Redirect: do not continue the project un-        Factually based decisions also help the
                                                 til after realignment.                           project team members to concentrate on
The subsequent development stage cov-                                                             goal attainment rather than emotional
ers product and process development as                                                            considerations.
well as prototyping and the definition of        Interdisciplinary project
production goals.                                structure                                        By embedding Voith Paper Fabrics in
                                                                                                  Voith Paper, the volume of joint projects
After that comes the full-scale market           One of the main advantages of this               and activities has risen steeply. The com-
test stage, which is critical for project        staged development process is that the           mon controlling system for development
success. With close customer involve-            right specialists are engaged at the right       projects strengthens our systematic ap-
ment, the respective product or technolo-        time under the supervision of each re-           proach, and enables us to cooperate
gy thereby undergoes product pre-launch          spective project manager. The philosophy         more closely and efficiently thanks to an
trials to test for market acceptance and         of a sole project manager, often applied         analogous project structure on all sides.
manufacturing dependability. Based on            to small development projects, is replaced
test results and customer feedback, the          here by task distribution among the re-
decision is then taken whether to go into        spective experts according to responsi-
full production or not.                          bility for each project phase.

Finally, the market introduction stage           In line with the latest findings, develop-       Stage-Gate is a registered trademark of
involves a systematic and widely based           ment projects are no longer reserved for         STAGE-GATE Inc., Ancaster (Ontario, Canada).


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