Technological knowledge

The general knowledge areas important in technology are (Gawith, 1999):

• knowledge of science, mathematics, social sciences;

• knowledge of techniques, testing, modelling, interviewing, manipulating tools, materials and data;

• knowledge of procedures and processes;

• knowledge of generic concepts and ways of thinking.

In product development they can be grouped under products, raw materials, processing, packaging, distribution and marketing as shown in Table 4.3. This shows the wide variety of knowledge that is needed in bringing the product from the concept to the actual product.

For example, consider the development of a protein food. Consumers want a high-protein food, but what does that mean in percentage of protein? They want a red colour but what is that measured on a colorimeter? They want a crisp texture but what is that measured on a texture meter? If the protein content is to be 15%, then it is necessary to know the protein content of the raw materials; if the colour has to be a certain red, then the red pigment in the raw materials needs to be identified and measured. There may also be a need for a certain protein; in breadmaking, there is a minimum amount of wheat gluten to give the structure of the leavened bread; in sausage making, only a certain amount of offal can be used because of its poor waterholding capacity. So the type of protein, the quantity and sometimes the amino acid composition need to be specified in the product and the raw materials. Different processing conditions will denature the protein to different extents; limits are set on the processing variables so that the product has the desired nutritional properties. Browning, the combination of amino acids and simple carbohydrates, decreases the value of the protein so the packaging needs to stop absorption of water and also there need to be limits set on the storage conditions of temperature and humidity. If the product has achieved a certain nutritional protein value, then this knowledge is supplied to the consumer in promotion and public relations. So finally the consumer receives the product, but needs to know how to handle it so that the final food eaten has the protein nutritional effect that the consumers desired.

This example gives some idea of the knowledge from many disciplines, which has to be integrated in product development. If there are many specialists from different areas, the problem is how to combine their knowledge throughout the project. If there are not many people in the company, the problem is how to fill the gaps in the knowledge.

The knowledge base for product development 167 Table 4.3 Types of technological knowledge in product development

Product qualities

Properties: appearance, size, shape, sensory; nutritional, compositional Use: safety, ergonomics, preparation and serving, eating Product limits: legal, price

Raw materials

Properties: type, production method, chemical composition, traces of pesticides and herbicides, toxicity, nutritional composition, sensory and physical properties, microbiological counts

Price: price range, relationship of price to quality

Raw material limits: caused by processing needs, product structure needs, other product properties, quantity available; minimum and maximum needed in the product, effect of processing on the raw material, legal limits on use


Unit operations: heating, pasteurisation, sterilisation, freezing, chilling, drying, mixing, tumbling, pumping, conveying, packing

Unit processes: gelatinisation, hydrolysis, browning, denaturation, oxidation, death of microorganisms, growth of microorganisms, vitamin destruction

Processing variables: temperature, water activity, atmosphere, time

Costs: raw materials, processing, factory, distribution, marketing and administration

Processing limits: temperature range, rate of increase/decrease in temperature, viscosity range, mixing speed range, basic equipment design


Packaging materials: film, cardboard, metal, glass Packaging type: bottle, carton, pottle, can, sachet Packaging method: hand, continuous, automatic, aseptic Packaging limits: shelf life, protection


Transport: roads, rail, sea, air

Transport conditions: time, temperature, humidity, vibration, handling, costs Storage: ambient, chilled, frozen, atmosphere controlled Storage conditions: time, temperature, humidity, atmosphere, handling, costs Distribution limits: shelf life; protection from contamination, breakage, deterioration; available transport and storage; timing of transport; costs


Market channel: product flow through market channel, people and organisations (retail outlets, wholesalers, agents, ingredient suppliers)

Market channel requirements: size, weight, availability, price, display and information Promotion: media advertising, public relations, in-store promotions, free samples, competitions

Promotion needs: create awareness, encourage to buy, education, creating a product image

Pricing: customers' product value, costs, price range, price discounts, competitive pricing Marketing limits: channel availability, channel controls, competitive actions, promotion availability and costs, customer needs and attitudes, legal controls on marketing.

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