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How Digital Transformation Helps EV Companies Accelerate Product Innovation

Connected Electric VehiclesFulfilling safety and environmental regulations, procuring components with existing supply chain concerns, and meeting quality requirements are all challenges that have electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers turning to digital solutions and processes to help them collaborate across the supply chain. Digital transformation is core to being successful nowadays; a digital backbone can transform the way EV manufacturers work.

As EV manufacturers strive to keep technological pace with the competition, many are discovering that digital transformation delivers more value to customers, improves the bottom line, and helps position the company for future opportunities.

Smart transformations

EV customers expect the same level of connectivity from their vehicles as they do from their smartphones, laptops, tablets, and tech wearables. This includes everything from high-quality passenger infotainment systems to assisted driving, and parking with dashboard payment.

From engineering to the factory floor, everything an electric vehicle manufacturer does now has a digital technology component. This higher level of digital capability means products are more complex as they’re comprised of electrical, mechanical, software, Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. This necessitates a different approach to how products are developed and how product information is managed.

How much of a role can digital transformation play in helping EV manufacturers overcome challenges? The answer is as varied and nuanced as the companies pursuing it. From process, product, and service transformation to growth opportunities, customer experience, and cultural transformation, it’s imperative for companies to reimagine their work methods.

In a recent podcast with Global Auto, Markus Fleckenstein, Director of International Technical Sales for Arena, a PTC business, reacted to the importance of digital transformation by saying “digital transformation allows you to have digital processes instead of using old paper-based processes or email chains. In the end, it gives you a competitive advantage so you can go to market faster because you’re quicker in sharing data. I think digital transformation helps to overcome product development challenges.”

Strategic options and ideas for digital transformation

A digital transformation strategy is a plan of action for repositioning your company in the digital economy. Building an organization that can take advantage of new technologies and capitalizes on new possibilities with speed, skill, and tenacity frequently necessitates a shift in how people operate.

Manufacturers and service providers face fierce competition, and they must adapt to rapidly changing client needs. Digital transformation is an essential imperative to:

  • Exceed client expectations and enhance the consumer experience
  • Strengthen and boost your market position
  • Gain an advantage over the competition
  • Drive innovation

If your EV company is looking to explore digital transformation options to overcome product development and supply chain challenges, where do you start?

“Many companies start with logistic processes or managing enterprise resource planning,” said Fleckenstein. “In my opinion, you need to make sure you have the right product design in place at the right level so it can be sourced, it can be built, and it can be shipped. You need to have engineering processes all under control first.”

A digital strategy must be converted into a clear roadmap with concrete tasks that are communicated to key people in the business who will carry them out.

Here are three steps EV manufacturers can take to start shaping their digital transformation journey:

  1. Get engineering processes in control
  2. Get quality processes in control
  3. Get your teams synchronized

A successful strategy includes implementing a robust digital system that manages product information and enables visibility across the supply chain to mitigate risks and meet new product introduction (NPI) goals.

Enterprise solutions like cloud-based product lifecycle management (PLM) software provide a secure, centralized platform for internal teams and external supply chain partners to exchange product information and collaborate in real time from anywhere in the world.

By facilitating continual, bidirectional communication, key players are always up to speed on the latest product design changes, part shortages, lead times, quality issues, and other critical items that impact production.  This gives manufacturers visibility into supply chain operations and control over the process.

Information for approved manufacturers and suppliers can be linked to the product bills of materials (BOMs) so that teams can quickly find alternate sources for components in the event of shortages or extended lead times (such as EVs are experiencing with current supply chain issues).

A PLM system can also be integrated with electronic component databases to help manage environmental compliance requirements for REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances), and conflict minerals and ensure that EV products are designed with the necessary compliant parts.

How does digital transformation benefit EV companies?

Electric Vehicle Product DesignLike all organizations, electronic vehicle companies look to digitize their operations whether it’s data, connectivity, or cybersecurity to achieve multiple advantages like productivity and observability.

Improve efficiencies and optimize production
EV companies must concentrate on efficiency and automation. They can tap into previously underused or underutilized data, expedite processes, and create EVs and parts faster and more precisely by breaking down communication and data silos.

Optimize product and quality
It might be difficult to see vital information in time to adjust market movements or consumer requests when there is a lack of real-time information—from the plant floor to the C-suite. Personnel can obtain deep visibility into complicated work processes by installing successful digital solutions, allowing for greater data-driven insights, tighter management of product processes, staffing, and predictive maintenance scheduling.

Improve business insights
EV manufacturers can leverage the power of information and insights gained through a digital transformation. Accessibility and visibility into product, supply chain, and quality analytics can keep EV companies a step ahead of impending supply chain issues, alleviate competitive pressures, and identify opportunities.

What opportunities does digital transformation bring?

  • Improving insights
  • Optimizing the supply chain operations
  • Developing a customer-focused product design
  • Boosting productivity while decreasing operational costs
  • Managing quality and compliance processes
  • Enabling collaboration to overcome challenges due to disconnected systems and processes

Cloud PLM helps win the digital transformation race

With mounting supply chain issues and the need to meet compliance standards and mandates, EV manufacturers are finding that a digital backbone is imperative to successfully accelerate product innovation.

Digital transformation is not a destination—it’s a commitment to the future of an organization and a necessity for businesses that want to be, or remain, market leaders.

Arena’s partner ecosystem and expertise help our EV customers achieve double-digit value in ways that matter to their companies the most—whether that’s reducing operating costs, meeting compliance and quality initiatives, maximizing revenue growth, and/or increasing efficiency.

Are you an EV manufacturer considering digital transformation? Learn more about digital transformation and how it spurs agile product development.