In Search of The Remaining 20 in The Pareto 80-20 Rule

Pareto analysis usually reveals a golden 80-20 rule for squeezing performance out of things. In other words - it means the majority of the performance (80%) is typically governed by a minority (20%) of factors. Pareto analysis applies equally across many disciplines from sports (marginal gains anyone?) to product design.

Reducing Pressure Loss Through a BendReducing Pressure Loss Through a BendCFD turning vane study

The savvy product designer can usually arrive at the 80% performance from the 20% of factors relatively quickly. To stand out in the market place and produce a truly outstanding product, the last 20% performance, or close to it, is everything. However, as you have no doubt realized, that 20% performance comes at an ever growing cost in terms of factors to consider (the other 80%). This can easily turn into an exponential growth effort soaking up precious time and money. Ever wondered why many products are over budget and late to market? Blame Pareto!

All is not lost. There is a whole field of techniques available to aid in the search for the ideal combination of factors to maximize product performance, e.g., design of experiments, optimization. Combined with timely simulation - including Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) - and physical testing, the toolset available is extensive.

The final characteristic of a savvy product designer is knowing when enough performance is enough.