Breaking Down the Barriers to Product Innovation

Connecting Product Information and Teams Is Vital to Success in NPD and NPI

Collaboration With the Distributed Teams During NPDI

CHALLENGE: Disconnected Software or Point Solutions Create Silos and Block Collaboration

Ad hoc methods such as spreadsheets and CAD-centric PLM solutions not only result in partial BOM management, they also impair strategic transparency and collaboration with the downstream product teams (e.g., quality, purchasing, manufacturing, CMs, suppliers). With quality issues a leading failure point in NPDI, companies need a complete product information record that is securely accessible by suppliers and partners. Otherwise, quality will suffer as well as team efficiency, time to market, and long-term ability to execute.

Most CAD-centric PLM systems were introduced as on-premises applications installed on desktops and servers inside an OEM’s or ODM’s firewall. This makes them hard to access without granting trusted access via virtual private networks (VPNs) to external design, contract manufacturing, and supplier partners. Even with technical access, many systems do not handle the provisioning and proper data security access and history tracking that companies will want for supply chain partners. Spreadsheets, even in online repositories, may be shareable, but have similar security and audit concerns along with lack of formal change control and disconnection from the greater context of product efforts.

Understandably, many product companies have refrained from sharing product development information with external partners due to these inherent risks and complexity burden. With these capability and process gaps, it is difficult to collaborate and stay on the same page with cross-functional product teams from early design through volume production.

Disconnected data silos’ impact on distributed teams

  • Engineers must spend considerable time compiling information for the downstream supply chain
  • Suppliers have difficulty accessing the latest product information, and can’t contribute effectively during the NPDI process
  • CMs lack visibility, making it hard to provide useful feedback on the manufacturability of the product

SOLUTION: Single System Improves Visibility, Control, and Access

Connecting NPDI teams requires a secure approach that can work with even the least technologically advanced partners anywhere in the world. Arena’s cloud solution closes the gap between internal teams, design partners, and CMs—encouraging collaboration and sharing throughout the value chain. External partners have permission-based access to the latest design files and product information without cumbersome and complex firewall access processes. Automated change control processes also ensure all product and process data and documents are maintained under revision control. With direct access to product information, supply chain partners are empowered to provide feedback, prevent errors, and suggest cost-saving alternatives.

For design for manufacturing (DFM) best practices, connecting all product, quality, purchasing, and manufacturing teams ensures improved design and earlier detection of possible design flaws or quality issues. Aggregating all the mechanical, electrical, and software designs into a single system eliminates design errors and quality issues. Enabling a CAD and ERP agnostic approach allows engineering teams to design in the design solutions of their choice, and production teams to do the same with their chosen production systems.

NPD teams need to collaborate closely with NPI teams to ensure:

  • Key stakeholders work on the right design at every stage
  • Requirements are captured, prioritized, and tracked effectively
  • Designs created by different engineering teams work well together
  • Impacted teams have cross-functional visibility to drive project deliverables through product launch
  • Regulatory requirements are factored into design and sourcing decisions
  • Supply chain partners have access to the information required to source or build their portion of the product