While the goal of seamless, interactive collaboration between internal teams, manufacturing partners, and suppliers is achievable, there are a few barriers that can get in the way.
Siloed Engineering Design Tools
There are many great design tools that mechanical, electrical, and software engineering teams use to create their individual designs. However, these tools are rarely connected, which means that companies often need to invest in resources that can ensure both the interoperability and the manufacturability of the final design. More importantly, companies need a simple way to share the entire design record internally with quality, purchasing, and manufacturing, as well as externally with suppliers. These downstream product teams do not generally have access to engineering design tools or expertise in their use. Thus, the earlier you can aggregate and share the complete design with the rest of the new product introduction team, the sooner you can address any design or quality issues.
Integrated Process Optimization
Many companies have started to implement an integrated planning process, with the aim of supporting strategic decision-making through a comprehensive, data-driven overview of company resources and needs.
Achieving this can be challenging enough within a company, in part because plans can quickly become inaccurate due to manual overwrites.
The situation only gets worse when companies need to include the plans and forecasts of external partners. Without the proper alignment of planning processes, the integration of planning data from multiple sources, and reciprocal transparency, it is difficult to sustain meaningful collaboration across a complex supply chain.
As we have noted previously, the global economy is currently rife with uncertainty, making planning difficult. Even before the pandemic, however, companies faced a competitive environment that required them to work fast, be first to market, and increase market share. Specialization has played a critical role in their efforts. OEMs focused on their core competencies and IP, relying on highly distributed, multitiered supply chains to source, build, and test their products. Given these new and ongoing pressures, it can be easy to question the value of creating a more distributed supply chain, particularly in the absence of secure systems that make it easier to collaborate.
As we have tried to emphasize throughout, it is in times like these that orchestrated real-time collaboration is critical to ensure the delivery of high-quality products to market.