Written by John Heller

The Pain of Product Development—And How to Fix It

The discrete manufacturing industry has a big problem. Most manufacturers I know agree that everyone in the extended enterprise contributes to the success of a new product. But, our outdated industry tools and processes hold back effective collaboration. Without enterprise-wide collaboration, companies can’t create and develop truly innovative products. 

This begs the question – if collaboration is so important, why isn’t it easier? Simply put, our industry’s tools haven’t kept pace with the rapid changes in collaboration. Engineers still need powerful machines to run massive software suites that aren’t accessible to anyone else. We collaborate with static images rather than something immersive. These roadblocks aren’t just frustrations—they are costing our industry money, time, and opportunities.

5 Pain points in product development

Companies understand how successful a cohesive and collaborative extended enterprise can be. One report from Accenture said that 75 percent of aerospace and defense companies believe that their organizations will act as unified ecosystems rather than separate entities in five years. But what about today? Our current collaboration system is broken. Here’s how:

Sharing Ideas
In the earliest stages of product development, engineering generates ideas to solve a market need. Quickly, engineers inadvertently lock all the information and 3D models into their tools and methodologies. Other teams—both internal and external—don’t always have access to the same technology, meaning they cannot ideate or collaborate on the designs concurrently. Without the ability to share information, engineers are already blocking themselves off from potential innovation.

Supplier Ideation and Collaboration
Collaborating with suppliers leads to greater product innovations. To collaborate today, engineers screenshare, FTP, email, and verbally describe their designs. But all these methods are just workarounds, paling in comparison to true collaboration. Suppliers can’t access the information, views, or understanding they need to make decisions. Without real, valuable, and insightful conversation, there’s no room for trusted relationships.

Internal Collaboration
Consider what other departments in the extended enterprise need to accomplish during product development:

  • Manufacturing verifies the ability to make and assemble the design
  • Support teams check for serviceability
  • Procurement selects the best suppliers for the job
  • Marketing provides insight into the market need

All these teams would benefit from access to 3D product data. Yet, they have to wait for engineering to provide the design, usually when the design is completed. By then, timelines are tight and any changes are expensive.

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Commitment to Designs
Poor collaboration up until design freeze and commitment inevitably leads to mistakes, which creates late design changes. Disparate teams end up traveling for on-site design sessions, further impacting timeline and budget. After all the struggles to share and collaborate, it’s no surprise that market verification comes late in the process.

Responding to Customers
Product development is never really done. Once a company releases a new product to market, the customer always has feedback. Today’s manufacturing companies struggle to absorb and circulate customer feedback. Our tools and workflows are too painful, costly, and time-consuming to make changes in the timeframe that a customer wants. Poor information exchange impact timelines and blow up budgets.

Download our extended enterprise collaboration white paper that explores these pain points in depth:

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How to Strengthen Collaboration in Discrete Manufacturing

If you’re like most discrete manufacturers, these pain points sound all too familiar. Our lack of ability to share and collaborate with 3D product data is creating:

  • A drag on productivity and collaboration
  • Barriers to good decisions
  • Delayed time-to-market
  • Risk to intellectual property

To solve these problems, companies need to create transparency and grant access to data across the extended enterprise. Vertex’s platform unlocks 3D product data for everyone in the extended enterprise, creating a fast, easy, and secure way to collaborate. Over the course of this blog series, we will explore how Vertex provides value by:

About John Heller

John has extensive experience in mechanical engineering, supplier collaboration, cross-functional relationship-building, and procurement activities. Through this experience, he learned optimal ways to bridge the gap between engineering, procurement, and the supply chain. He has championed new product roadmaps, spearheaded procurement strategies, and worked with customers to understand truly valuable opportunities for product improvement. As Product Marketer for Vertex Software, John leverages his extensive background in engineering and product lifecycle to best understand and communicate pain points and opportunities in manufacturing organizations.