Posts tagged as:

Manufacturing

plm-erp-death-of-thraw-over-the-wall-engineering

Do you remember “throw over the wall of manufacturing” statement? This is a traditional engineering world. Pretty much sequential. Engineers are doing their job and throw it over the wall to the next stage. Traditional manufacturing was driven by sales forecast. This is was the world that formed a traditional domains of PDM/PLM and ERP. The engineering job was a black box – product design delivered to manufacturing. Manufacturing people supposed to take design and make it work to production. The processes required lots of back and forth communication. The result you know –  skyrocketing cost of change requests, suboptimal design and after all production delays.

There are lot of changes in manufacturing environment these days. One of the most interesting example is growing number of smaller manufacturing companies / startups. I wrote about that few months ago in my post – Why Kickstarter projects need PLM? Today, I want to speak more about that. LineShapeSpace article – Manufacturing Inventory Management: How Much Inventory Do You Need? caught my attention. The question sounds obvious. However, article speaks about looking on inventory from completely different perspective – engineering and growth.

Growth is an essential part of every startup. This is probably one and the most important goal to stay focused on. However, the specific part of manufacturing company is the cost of parts and size of the inventory. To hack the growth path is not simple. To go on the wrong path means to literally to die. Here is my favorite passage from the article

This mismatch is expensive. It usually means high inventory carrying costs while you chase down a lot of little customers and invest resources into getting—and keeping—their relatively small orders. The inverse relationship impacts cash flow and energy level significantly, as well as your ability to feed yourself. Long term, this kind of business will most likely be a hobby, not something that sustains you, absent significant investment or luck.

In order to develop a successful product and find a right inventor path, you need to re-think a traditional engineering-manufacturing process. No more over the wall process. You need to design for optimal manufacturing, sourcing, inventory and many other factors. Which means engineering and manufacturing team to work together. My hunch, there is no traditional PLM/ERP boundary any more. Here is another quote to emphasize that:

“We used every fancy prototyping technology, investigated multiple production scenarios, and ultimately landed our production with great manufacturing partners near Hong Kong…utilizing ‘traditional manufacturing’ for production [was] an ordeal to set up, but yields quality, repeatable parts thereafter. The decision to move at this scale of production required that we grow a global sales and fulfillment network.

That wasn’t exactly an ambition for a first our product…but it’s certainly an interesting, if occasionally harrowing, game.” The takeaway from all of this? Do your best to match the inventory risk to your channel risk. It’s a lot easier, faster, and cheaper to go back to the design drawing board than it is to return a container ship to China.

What is my conclusion? We are going to see the world of manufacturing changing in front of us these days. It may change (and probably already changing) the traditional engineering, production planning and manufacturing boundaries. What was true in an old PLM/ERP world will change. The new forms of manufacturing will require re-thinking of current software. Interesting time for PLM and ERP analysts, product managers and vendors. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Share

0 comments

hardware-mfg-startup

Selling PLM for SME was always a very controversial topic among PLM vendors. No consensus here. I wrote about it few months ago in my Why PLM stuck to provide solution for SME post and got  interesting follow up conversations with few industry pundits.

Every PLM vendor has some special product offering ready for SME market segment. But did it work well to anybody? My hunch, most of “successful PLM SME” implementations are focusing on basic CAD/PDM features. Very few SME organizations successfully implemented a complete PLM system including BOM, change management, configurations, manufacturing integration, requirement management and more. If you got a chance to see one, it is typically result of huge effort of people in the organization itself committed to make it work.

One of the most typical reasons for PLM vendors to sale to SME was high cost of implementation and sales multiplied by absence of IT people ready to handle PLM implementation. In my view, PLM vendors have a great hope to make it easier with modern cloud based PLM offering, but jury is still out to watch results.

Meantime, manufacturing landscape is getting even more interesting. Hardware is the new software. Nest, GoPro, Beats, Jawbone, Oculus… You’re welcome in the world of manufacturing startups. I touched it in my earlier post – Why Kickstarter projects need PLM? Yesterday, my attention was caught by TechCrunch article – Hardware Case Study: Why Lockitron Has Taken So Long To Ship. Read the article – I found it very interesting. The following passage explains basically that from “limited assembly”, manufacturing startups are moving towards full manufacturing cycle:

In our initial RFQs (“request for quote”) we leaned heavily towards manufacturing entirely in the United States. Our impetus for this was largely around logistics; if we could make everything domestically, we wouldn’t have to travel far and wide to ensure the quality we expected. It quickly became apparent that manufacturing domestically would cost far beyond what we had budgeted for. Given the number of parts, required touch time (the amount of time it takes someone to assemble a product), various materials and processes used, building entirely in the U.S. wasn’t viable. Potential domestic suppliers still looked East for most of the components we needed, albeit with longer lead times.

However, even more interesting quote is the following one explaining the level of challenges during the development processes.

We spent the next few months redesigning our gearbox to reduce noise while increasing power to deal with sticky or hard-to-close locks. While the choice was the right one to make, it cost us valuable time; a few parts had to be retooled and there were cascading effects on our electronics and supplier choices. We selected an ultra-efficient, powerful motor to place at the lock’s heart, but this also impacted our timeline. Most challenging, however, was the meshing of electronic and mechanical worlds. An initial circuit board design proved overly complex and underpowered.

As you noted the complexity of product including mechanical and electronic parts is very high. In addition to that, even it wasn’t stated explicitly by the article, I can see a growing complexity of integration between electromechanical and software components.

What is my conclusion? The complexity of manufacturing startups is growing. To scale product development and manufacturing is a very challenging job. And all must be done in a craziest timeline – the reality of every startup. Manufacturing startups is an interesting niche that clearly different from typical SME organizations we’ve seen before.  The challenge of PLM with a typical manufacturing SME is to compete with a status quo of existing processes and tools. Manufacturing startups are different – absence of processes, startup culture and an absolutely need to get job done in a very short timeframe. It would be interesting to see a growing demand for PLM tools as well as growing complexity of product development and supply chain in these organizations. What PLM tools will provide an answer? Good question for PLM strategists these days. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Share

8 comments

plm-for-xtreme-manufacturing

I’m sure most of you are familiar with XP (Extreme Programming) – software development methodology, which intent to improve software quality and responsiveness to changing customer requirements. The history of XP goes back in the end of 90s. Despite very short history XP is very popular and it is hard to find a respectful software development team not adopting at least part of principles of XP.

Earlier this week, I learned about XM (eXtreme manufacturing) inspired by Scrum and Kanban. XM named after XP and it takes some principles of eXtreme Programming such as agile, communication, user stories and more. According to Wikipedia article, XM is interactive and incremental development framework. It combines best practices of project management and focused on holistic approach in goal achievement. The same wikipedia article quotes and example of experimental car that was developed just in 3 months. Few other examples are available. Here is the passage from wikipedia speaking about that:

In 2008, Joe Justice entered the Automotive X Prize, and achieved with XM what Fortune Magazine called the “seemingly impossible;” he and his team developed a functional prototype of an ultra-efficient automobile in three months time.[4] Even more remarkably the 100 mpg car has an impressive 0-60: < 5 seconds [1].[5] A number of prototype cars have been developed by separate companies using the XM process. Companies use XM as a way to challenge their employees to develop new skills and learn the power of teamwork to solve complex problems. For example, Lockheed Martin(Sunnyvale, CA) challenged 200 of its engineers to build a 100 mpg car in a single day; the challenge was met and the team’s car was sold for $25,000.[6] Another such example isopensourceecology.org,[7] whose Global Village Construction kit is bringing affordable industrial farming techniques to the small scale farm.

If you are familiar with XP, you may find some of XM methods very similar. Here is a very short explanation:

XM uses a prioritized product backlog as the primary work input queue. Work is visualized in an open area generally on a single team Kanban Board. Every XM team has a Scrum Master and also a Product Owner, who together with the team help to ensure that Agile/Lean principles are followed.

I found some additional materials about XML here and here. The last one is Kickstarter project by Joe Justice who coined XM term – Develop eXtreme Manufacturing class and curriculum.

Learning about XM made me think about possible intersection of PLM and XM. It seems to me PLM vendors are not very focused on this space today. There are lots of tools for XP and Agile development. These tools are helping to support development teams to achieve goals, work on user stories, log issues and control projects. Some of these tools are very successful. These tools such as Jira by Atlassian successfully developed large software communities. I’m sure rethinking some of existing XP tools can be a good starting points to develop PLM for XM.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing space is changing. New type of manufacturing companies are coming. My hunch, these companies will adopt agile and XM type of work and will change traditional working methods. These companies will develop new world of manufacturing (similar to the revolution that was made by Henry Ford back 100 years ago). It looks like an interesting opportunity to look what type of software tools these companies will require. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit scruminc

Share

5 comments

Security and permissions are showstoppers to adopt search

June 25, 2014

Search and information discovery is a big deal these days. Inspired by Google and other web search giants, we want information at our fingertips at the right time. I’ve been following topic of search long time. You can jump on few of my previous articles about search – Oslo & Grap – new trajectories in […]

Share
Read the full article →

What PLM vendors can learn from manufacturing startups?

June 13, 2014

About half year ago, I was looking for bluetooth location trackers. The solution that caught my attention was Tile. I liked the slick video and interesting design. At that time I learned that Tile grabbed $2.6M via crowdfunding – very remarkable result. However, I noticed that solution is not available. I followed Tile since than […]

Share
Read the full article →

PLM, Physical Experience and Homegrown IoT

June 3, 2014

To connect virtual and physical worlds was always one of the most important imperatives. What if I can experience my product before manufacturing – flying virtual planes, driving virtual cars, etc. Navigating back in my blog, I found few good examples of physical & virtual connectivity – Physical and Virtual Convergence; PLM and physical experience; […]

Share
Read the full article →

Why Kickstarter projects need PLM?

May 21, 2014

Online business models are disrupting industries. E-commerce was probably one of the first disrupted segments. Just think about it… 10-15 years ago we debated if people will be ready to use their credit cards online. Changes will be coming to other industries and verticals. Manufacturing is one of them. Back in 2012, I had a […]

Share
Read the full article →

Why BOM Management Is Complex?

May 12, 2014

My last post about Manufacturing BOM raised few interesting comments online and offline. One of them by Jos Voskuil  was pretty straightforward – “What is a big deal about MBM”? Jos pointed me on his earlier post – Where is MBOM? This post as well as few other articles I posted earlier - Why companies are not ready […]

Share
Read the full article →

PLM Best Practices and Henry Ford Mass Production System

April 6, 2014

If you are in PLM business, I’m sure you are familiar with term called “best practices”. The term is widely used to explain how PLM system can be deployed, how to manage data and how to organize and optimize product development processes. So, where are roots of PLM best practices and why PLM vendors like […]

Share
Read the full article →

How not to miss PLM future?

March 23, 2014

The world around us is very disruptive these days. Nothing stands still. You cannot stop innovation and progress. Engineering and manufacturing software is not fastest changing domains. It explained by slow changing process, high level of complexity in product development and significant capital investment manufacturing companies made in existing PLM and other enterprise software. Nevertheless, […]

Share
Read the full article →