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What Does a Research and Development Department Do?

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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2014
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A research and development (R&D) department is responsible for innovations in design, products, and style. This department is responsible for creating innovative new products to keep companies a step ahead of the competition. Many companies also rely on the R&D department to improve existing consumer products, and to explore new ways of producing them.

Companies thrive and succeed by creating innovative products, as well as by increasing company profit and utilizing cost-efficient methods. A research and development department is primarily responsible for ensuring that these goals are met. This is an especially important function in the fields of manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, but can be applied to virtually any industry.

Often, research and development works closely with the marketing department. Marketing studies consumer trends by surveying and researching consumer demands, purchasing methods, product sales, and the existence and development of technology across the relevant market. The marketing department gathers all the data, and makes this information available to the R&D department, which will take action in response to the findings and proceed to keep the company on top of current market needs.

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Consumer demands often change very quickly, and the research and development department must be alert and adapt to these market fluctuations accordingly. Companies often allocate millions of dollars to research and development so that they can continually modify and update their products to preserve a brand's position within the market. Leading products — whether a drug, or a laundry detergent, or anything else — usually will not remain in the number one market position forever without some type of improvement and advancement.

An R&D department may also be tasked with ensuring that products are manufactured within an appropriate time frame, and that they meet specific quality and cost requirements. For example, a particular ingredient or component of a product suddenly may become too expensive or outdated, and the department will need to explore other means to replace the missing pieces. Therefore, R&D departments often maintain close ties with engineers, chemists, and other product specialists.

Research and development departments will provide advancements in products that range from simple updates of features to dramatic discoveries of new cures for diseases, depending on the field and the company's needs. The aim, in most cases, is to ensure that each product meets all regulations, legal requirements, and the highest standards in quality control. Research and development works in conjunctions with other departments to achieve these aims.

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Discuss this Article

anon289531
Post 7

We have a patent pending product being reviewed in the R&D department of a major food company. It has been passed from the senior purchasing director to the R&D and has been three, going on four weeks in their hands. Our latest correspondence from the company is that it is still in review.

Our question is how long does something like this take? And is this a positive thing on the longer it takes? And when should we ask them again on any progress? (last time we asked was four days ago).

anon181072
Post 6

so why do we have the department exactly?

anon158030
Post 5

R&D is the main function of a company.

cafe41
Post 4

surfNturf- Mercedes Benz has a research and development facility in India for the last 50 years. There the engineers create improvements to the Mercedes line of cars which have recently included a shut off mechanism when a person has fallen asleep or driving in a erradic manner.

surfNturf
Post 3

Suntan12-I have also noticed that research and development responds to the general public’s preferences and concerns with respect to food.

For example, with the heighten awareness of the dangers of Trans fats, many products now have had the Trans Fat removed from its products. Even fast food chains have removed Trans Fats from their menus.

Research and development can also change product packaging to make it more attractive and make consumers more likely to buy the product. Sometimes changing the color of a package will increase sales.

suntan12
Post 2

Bhutan- I have seen those panels. A lot them have to do with weight loss or diabetes drugs.

I also wanted to add that research and development is very important in the toy industry. Toys are constantly redeveloped and created to offer maximum entertainment for children.

For example, the Wii product line offers an interactive experience for kids that are multisensory.

The Wii fit model offers a series of exercise activities that measure cardiovascular fitness and balance. In fact, the Wii model will offer you a balance test in order to determine your age with respect to fitness.

This highly entertaining product was a breakthrough a few years ago because there was nothing else like it on the market. The great thing about the Wii Fit product is that it offers a great fitness experience that also improves hand eye coordination in children.

Bhutan
Post 1

Research and development is important for a company to grow. Pharmaceutical companies research and develop drugs as the time that will improve the quality of life of people.

Often these experimental drugs might be tested in clinical trials in which the participants are terminally ill and taking these experimental drugs in order to lengthen and improve the quality of life.

Sometimes researchers conduct drug studies in which they ask for participants that may have been affected my certain medical conditions if they would like to participate in the study.

The participants are compensated and have to take the drug proposed in the study in order to measure its effectiveness.

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