Jeremy Timothy of Listen Technologies recently shared his experiences with Arena’s Scott Reedy during a webinar panel discussion focused on accelerating new product development. We wanted to share some of his noteworthy insights with our readers. Jeremy spent the last eight years as a Configuration Analyst and worked closely with the engineering and manufacturing teams.
Listen Technologies’ vision is compelling and demonstrates the importance of product lifecycle management (PLM) in speeding life-transforming products to market. The company brings power and clarity to the sounds that enrich people’s lives—with solutions that overcome the challenges of noise, distance, clashing conversations, and hearing loss to deliver precise and personalized audio in any setting or environment (e.g., theaters, churches, tours, restaurants, casinos, sports bars, health clubs, and more).
Here are some key takeaways from our discussion.
Scott: Jeremy, I know Listen Technologies introduced a new smartphone application; can you share more about the use case for that app?
Jeremy: Yes. Caesars Palace Sports Book implemented our product in its redesigned venue on the Las Vegas Strip. At the Sports Book, our product enables guests to check stats and analyze their team’s performance in real time while listening to their preferred audio channel and watching all the action on the Sports Book TV wall. This increases engagement and allows guests to have their own unique viewing experience from any seat. Our product enhances their audio-video experience by enabling guests to easily stream TV audio in their native language to their personal smartphones and devices via Wi-Fi.
Scott: That’s great. I can imagine hundreds or thousands of guests tuning into a specific TV to hear only what’s being broadcast on that one TV. Let’s discuss more about your experience now. Prior to automating your processes with product lifecycle management (PLM), what were some of the biggest challenges using manual systems and what impact did they have on process design of your products and in getting them to market?
Jeremy: There were three key issues with our past manual system. The first was bill of materials or BOM control. We lacked a real way to have a revision control within Excel. Our BOMs became difficult to work with and a lot of revisions became mixed, meaning it was hard to determine the latest revision. This led to errors during the manufacturing process in some cases.
The second issue was not knowing where to go to get the latest files of information. Scattered files and documents were everywhere in our universe—whether it was an email, servers, personal computers, SharePoint, or Dropbox. We spent too much time trying to find important documents needed for production builds, audits, or compliance requirements.
Lastly, we struggled with change management processes. For us, this was a very tedious task because the products, BOMs, and change histories were not linked together. With revisions shared in many emails or spreadsheets, it was difficult to track how, when, and why changes were promoted.
Scott: That’s a common problem we see, Jeremy. Having worked with many manufacturers, I’ve witnessed the problem of scattered files and silos that created confusion and errors. It’s critical to have a single system to manage and collaborate around the complete product design for all internal teams and supply chain partners. Now that we understand some of your past challenges, what are some of the benefits you’ve experienced since you implemented PLM?
Jeremy: PLM has provided better process structure that I can reinforce throughout my organization. This has created a cultural shift in attitude toward engineering as well. We’ve seen more efficiency during production designs with our engineers. By reducing manufacturing errors in the prototype phase, it has hastened our time to market and decreased delays. We have more transparent communication with our manufacturing partners that is easily captured. Our change management processes are now streamlined, and all documented material is centralized in one source. Another benefit is that Arena is easy to customize without any coding.
Scott: I can see how cultural shifts occur when teams realize that the added controls and ease of collaboration help them get product designs released faster. Jeremy, many companies today have distributed product teams and outsourced manufacturing. What is your manufacturing model and how has PLM helped?
Jeremy: Our company does all of our engineering domestically and utilizes an overseas contract manufacturer to obtain parts and build our products. Arena manages all of our collaboration for product information, requirements, and sourcing information. All of our communication and actions are captured in PLM to provide a complete history throughout the product lifecycle. Arena manages any product documentation and gives us a precise historical record of each part we use. It tells us when parts are used, how they are sourced, and gives us a complete cost history.
And, Arena has enabled us to control what our contract manufacturers see with customizable sourcing views, which eliminates confusion and shows them only the relevant information they need to do their job.
Scott: There is no question that having an “audit trail” and controlled access helps avoid any miscommunication between internal teams and contract manufacturers. As we wind down our time together, can you share what types of compliance issues you deal with?
Jeremy: We deal primarily with the FCC or any other country or region’s specific requirements—like those for emissions. We use Arena PLM as the central source for compliance regulation material and documentation for safety, WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), RoHS (Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment), and REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). This really helps us prevent and avoid environmental regulation issues and risks. Using Arena’s compliance capabilities, I can verify that all items, within any given BOM, have current compliance documentation.
Scott: Thanks, Jeremy, for taking time to share your experience with us today. We’ve enjoyed learning more about Listen Technologies and how PLM has helped transform your manual business processes to improve control, collaboration, and speed product development based on better change and product release processes.