The Benefits of Collaborative Design

By Scott Anderson on 28 August, 2019

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OEMs and suppliers both bring experience, expertise and specialized knowledge to the table during the manufacturing process. Suppliers often don’t enter the picture until a design is created, and sometimes not until prototypes have been manufactured. However, there’s an argument to be made that a partnership between an OEM and a trusted supplier should be formed during the design phase. Collaborative design can benefit both OEMs and suppliers for a number of reasons.

Reliability and manufacturing yield improvement.

As OEMs and suppliers each possess their own areas of expertise, when both groups are involved in a project from the design phase, communication can align much earlier in the project. Suppliers often know the variety of options available for one tool or part, and they can identify issues that might arise, such as the quality of specific components. Sometimes suppliers are aware of robust alternatives to components that have suspect reliability.

Collaboration during design can also improve manufacturing yield. The adjustment of tolerances, tooling, and alternate components has the potential to reduce scrap and rework during the manufacturing process. When suppliers and OEMs bring their experience and specialties together for the design phase of a project, they set high standards of cohesiveness for the rest of the process.          

Reduced lead times and labor.

The above-mentioned alternative components selection and manufacturing yield reduction a supplier can bring to the design process also often results in significant lead-time reductions. In some cases when the upper-level assembly requirements are understood, changes at the sub-assembly can also provide reductions in the upper-level assembly hours, reducing labor.

Lower material and labor costs.

In addition to the insight in selecting components that are more reliable and or shorter lead time, suppliers are also often able to find components at a lower cost. Specified components can be unnecessarily expensive. Products and parts are sometimes available for a lower rate when they’re purchased at a higher volume, or perhaps due to a variety of other factors such as plating, finish, number of contacts, etc. A trusted supplier’s input and expertise in this area can result in a significant reduction in cost for both materials and labor.

Compressed development time.

If OEMs and suppliers are working as a team through the first round of the design phase, alignment on everything from material specs to the component layout can prevent the design from going through multiple rounds of revisions.

The earlier the supplier is involved in the design phase, the more efficient and reliable components, costs and timeline estimates have the potential to be. With the assets both OEMs and suppliers possess, it’s a win-win situation for them to come together at the table from the beginning.

For more information, or to speak with an expert on ways suppliers can contribute to the design process, contact  Liberty Electronics today.

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Topics: Operational Efficiency, Manufacturing, Cable Assemblies, Wire Harnesses, Design, Design Challenges, Box Builds

Author: Scott Anderson

Mr. Anderson joined Liberty Electronics as Manager of Engineering in July of 1999. In 2010 he was appointed Director of Business Development. He previously worked as a project engineer at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft and at Joy Mining Machinery. At Joy, Scott went on to manage international projects including quality improvement initiatives, computer system implementations, and new product development programs.
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