Challenges in Scaling Engineering Capabilities to Suit Demand

Raghuraman Ramamurthy May 6, 2015

scaling_engineering_capabilitiesAs market demand for products and variants fluctuates over time, so too must a company's engineering capabilities; practices and systems they put in place to meet demand without coming up short or overproducing. 

Things like efficient data exchange and production consistency affect how well a company can scale their capabilities to meet demand. The challenges that often arise within these tasks are directly tied to higher product cost. As cost rises due to data/engineering error, companies lose the price flexibility they need to effectively scale their operations.

In this article, we go into detail on the greatest challenges manufacturers face when adjusting their engineering capabilities to meet market demand.

Excessively Complex Operations

Engineering risk, cost and error, which are directly affected when manufacturers modify production to suit market demands, have deeper roots than many realize. Many of the challenges that leading companies face when scaling their engineering capabilities can be traced back to data and supply chain inefficiency.

Communication between multiple plants, engineering teams and data systems is a sensitive component within any manufacturing operation. Minor data inconsistencies can compromise whole product lines later in development, leading to unmet market goals (in addition to unwarranted, extra cost). Overproduction or non-utilized material spending build up cost, and put a noticeable drain on scaling capabilities.

The solution: For operations with multiple product lines, plants and engineering teams, practices like standardization can be critical in effectively meeting demands. Standardizing the most efficient data/control systems throughout an enterprise lowers engineering risk, and ensures that companies can meet growing demand and various output levels on time.

When scaling engineering capabilities to market interest, consistency is key. Universal product definitions and engineering systems, made standard throughout your operations, can help your company overcome challenges when scaling to suit demand.

Material Use, Skill and Resource Challenges

How well you are able to scale your business based on demand also depends on the resources you have at your disposal. Do you have the materials and engineering talent necessary to scale your operations around market activity?

Overproduction, frequent product defects and insufficient resources can put a cap on your productivity, and sabotage any scaling efforts you pursue. While reaching resource equilibrium is a major challenge many manufacturers encounter, there are several things you can do to improve your odds, and in turn, your success with scaling operations

The solution: The key to optimizing material and resource use when scaling is connectivity. How synchronized are your operations, and the systems you use to monitor/track materials? 

Committed data systems, which aggregate and track all the resources you use in regular production, make it much easier to procure exactly how much of a part or product you need. This capability eliminates overproduction, ordering errors and other resource inefficiencies, which lead to poor scaling.

More reliable data configurations help optimize time-to-market and operational spending. With this added flexibility, it becomes much easier to modify production in accordance with market demand.

Inefficient Development Practices

Perhaps the most common challenge manufacturers face when scaling their engineering capabilities is high product costs and low margins. While some companies are pressed to expand margins by introducing new products or quick variants, the best way to handle high cost is by tackling inefficiencies within your business.

How well do your engineering teams currently collaborate? Are there any alternative materials you can use in product development to curb costs? These are things you should consider to keep your spending low when scaling operations around demand.

The solution: Full collaboration between your engineering teams is essential for optimized scaling. All those involved in your operations should be using the same systems and practices to push products through development; this is especially important during scaling changes, where the slightest error can turn into added cost.

With lower product cost comes the flexibility to meet these demands more readily, and overcome the challenges that many companies face when scaling for market demand. Optimizing your scaling is more than just an engineering objective; it’s a strategy your business should be using every day to stay ahead within your market.

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Topics Globalization Product Cost Optimization Product Development Solutions