Within various manufacturing industries, the speed with which companies engineer, build and distribute products is the lifeblood of success - cost optimization is impossible with inefficient time-to-market.
While there are an innumerable little things you may be doing that marginally extend your development and distribution speeds, there are a few overarching engineering practices that may be hurting your time-to-market. Assessing these practices is crucial to remaining profitable in today’s bustling, globalized landscape.
1) Non-Standard Parts and Inefficient Configurations
One of the biggest problems companies in various industries face during the product engineering stage is the issue of product defects, and what such defects mean in terms of down-time and corrective action.
Standardization is one of the most effective initiatives a company can take to mitigate major product defects and their effects on engineering efficiency. Standardizing low cost design molds and parts, as well as the very engineering practices you employ, can do much to reduce maintenance requirements. For engineering teams, standardization can decrease defect frequency at all levels of production - defects that would, otherwise, result in slower time-to-market and compromised product batch quality.
Traditional engineering is over complicated, tedious and, especially when time-to-market is on the line, unnecessary. Standardization has simplified product design, development and part ordering in a way that growing companies should not overlook.
Other major contributor to poor time-to-market are variant production, product ranges and new product lines. What many companies don’t realize, however, is that floor level product development can be significantly streamlined with a practice known as modularization; that is, “compartmentalizing” key development stages and structuring them more intelligently, based on line or product need. This allows companies to essentially swap out certain development configurations with others, and more efficiently build freshly engineered product variants.
Modularization makes it much easier for companies to scale their development based on market need, and allows engineers to maximize their output and anticipate yields before goods ever reach the production phase.
2) Inefficient Scheduling and planning
If you don’t have an efficient process and system connecting all hands and engineering teams throughout your product lifecycle - you’re only holding yourself back in terms of time-to-market potential.
The benefits of a system to manage projects and priorities within engineering are especially true for companies with complicated engineering organization structures. In these environments, transparency and interconnectivity between all teams involved is key.
3) Misaligned Engineering Teams and Poor Collaboration
As you may have read in previously featured articles, disconnected engineering and miscommunication are major challenges companies face in pursuing optimized time-to-market. Too often, companies focus solely on things like improving line efficiency and lowering product cost, and not enough on how well their various plants and engineering teams work together collaboratively.
Engineering collaboration, which should be an essential practice in all manufacturing environments, is particularly valuable for mass volume product lines and those spread across various sites and locations. Fortunately, automated software and data systems have simplified how engineers collaborate in recent years, and somewhat leveled the playing field for companies of all sizes.
4.) Running a Complex (and Costly) Development Cycle
More so than any other point in this article, overly complex engineering process have a detrimental effect on time-to-market. This is why the ability to design and manufacture anywhere is so critical to efficient time-to-market. For example, moving certain key processes overseas, to remote engineering centers can help companies eliminate a large part of their annual costs - as well as their current time-to-market.
Consider how many of today’s industry leaders use globalization to produce goods abroad; integrating these practices can be a major boon to time-to-market, and gives engineers more time and fiscal resources to fuel toward key development tasks back home.
Overseas collaboration can return as much as 50% ROI in half of a single year - a number that has fueled the growing investment in cloud technologies and globalized engineering practices. Global Engineering centers offer increased market flexibility, and give many large and growing companies the edge they need to stay ahead despite market competition.