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Eliminate Barriers to Innovation – Part II

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Bringing Teams and Products Together

In the first part of this series, we discussed the three largest challenges companies face in developing and manufacturing products through new product development and introduction (NPDI) processes:   

  •  A complex environment of global regulations
  • Globally distributed NPD and NPI teams
  • Cross-functional IoT design in a world of connected smart devices.


CollaborationAll three place a major burden on your product development teams throughout the entire NPDI process. To meet these challenges, distributed teams need a single source of truth for the product record, which includes the complete bill of materials (BOM). Without a complete, centralized product record and BOM, it’s difficult to collaborate and stay on the same page with disconnected engineering design, quality, and production teams, and systems during the NPDI process.


Managing the entire BOM

Problems in design and production tend to multiply when engineering and manufacturing teams try to manage product designs and BOMs with point solutions like word documents, spreadsheets, or even document-centric quality management system (QMS) solutions.

Collaboration in groupsThis disjointed approach typically leads to product launch delays, quality issues, manufacturing mistakes, and costly scrap and rework. Distributed teams and supply chain partners struggle to identify the latest revisions of parts, BOMs, documents, drawings, specifications, changes, and related quality issues. Without a unified BOM of electrical, mechanical, and software components, engineering and downstream product teams can’t test, design, and build products without relying on tribal knowledge and added communication cycles.

In the past, many manufacturers relied on product data management (PDM) or CAD-centric PLM systems for early designs and work-in-process management processes within engineering workgroups. While these systems might suffice for mechanical or electrical assemblies, they aren’t designed to bring the entire engineering design, including software and related documentation into a single system.

Hence, quality, purchasing, manufacturing, and supply chain teams lack a complete product picture to ensure interoperability early in the NPD process. Because PDM fails to unite the entire design, issues are harder to see until you reach prototyping or product phases later in the NPI process.

Provide access to the complete product record

Arena aggregates the full product record early in the NPD process for the entire product team to collaborate in real-time. Designed for complex products, Arena works with upstream CAD or PDM systems and downstream production enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. With a complete and centralized view of everything required to build, test, and produce the finished product, Arena makes it easy for internal teams and supply chain partners to access the right information via a web browser anytime and anywhere.

Simplifying collaboration in the cloud

Many CAD, PDM, QMS, PLM, and other point solutions are designed as on-premises applications, which are difficult to use and collaborate with internal and external supply chain teams. The software must be installed, updated, and maintained across all teams.

On-premises systems aren’t designed for easy and secure collaboration. Operating within an OEM’s firewall, on-premises systems require cumbersome and complex VPN connections to secure access by external design and supplier partners. And preventing security breaches within an OEM’s firewall can be challenging, especially when using small point tools like spreadsheets or documents on the OEM’s site. This risk is further exacerbated from a lack of formal change controls for full traceability and accountability.

With Arena’s cloud-based solution, it’s easy to establish user access controls and policies without complicated IT frameworks or VPN protocols. The software enables companies of all sizes and users of all aptitudes to collaborate seamlessly throughout the product lifecycle.

Delivering collaborationDelivering innovative products fast

Arena connects internal teams, supply chains, and development processes with a NPI solution that any global team can deploy and use. Arena has been connecting supply chains for global innovators like Nutanix, Medtronic, SONOS, Kymeta, and Ubiquity Networks for close to two decades.

In the next installment of this series, we’ll address how to overcome challenges to meet product requirements and streamline engineering change processes. For a complete look at these best practices, check out this white paper: Breaking Down the Barriers to Product Innovation.

About the Author

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Bill Robbins

Bill Robbins is a freelance technical writer and strategic communications professional. He has more than 20 years of experience working with industry leaders like EMC, Dell, BMC Software, and HP ...

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