DFM: The Single Most Effective Strategy for Solving NPD Challenges

For the first time in more than a decade, Apple has put the brakes on iPhone production. China’s escalating water woes are proving enormously problematic to its economy, posing dire threats to electrical power generation, and thus to global supply chains.

The global supply network is on the brink of being pushed over the edge. To cope, companies are adopting mitigation strategies that lie outside of traditional supply chain management. These strategies often include domestic sourcing and charter, but a strategy that many companies overlook is (DFM (Design for Manufacturing).

DFM — Killing Multiple Birds With One Stone

The power of DFM lies in its ability to address multiple NPD challenges in the areas of supply chain, cost savings, innovation, and first-to-market advantage. Let’s look at how this specialised competency can overcome supply chain disruption and how it benefits other key considerations in NPD.

DFM and Supply Chain

As its name suggests, the purpose of DFM is to ensure product design effectively translates to scalable manufacture. On the surface, DFM’s relationship to supply chain might not be immediately apparent, but its connection is inextricable.

Say you’re developing a new product, and your product requirements and use case findings indicate you’ll need X part, component, or material (or some equivalent alternative). Prior to the pandemic, these findings wouldn’t raise any red flags. But in today’s climate, the odds are good that X and its equivalent are either entirely unavailable, unacceptably delayed, or simply too expensive to procure. Because supply chain management and NPD are two separate specialties, a partner limited to the former won’t have the know-how to help you find your way forward. What do you do?

If you’re working with a global NPD firm and supply chain leader, like Pivot International, you’ll place your bet on DFM to devise a design or engineering workaround. In other words, knowing X and its equivalent aren’t available, our teams will attempt to reconfigure your product design to work with Y or Z. (Parts, components, or materials we’ve determined are available within a reasonable time and at a reasonable price.)

At Pivot, 30-50% of the products we help our partners develop are created using an engineering workaround. These workarounds remain true to your product requirements and use case criteria and are executed with fidelity to product quality, functionality, and performance.

DFM and Cost Savings

DFM drives cost savings by integrating every link in the longer product development chain (design, engineering, and manufacturing). This serves to head off common and costly problems that occur when these links are broken. When these three stages of NPD aren’t integrated, it’s often a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Communication breakdowns are common, delays legion, resource utilization excessive, and sunk costs nearly certain. Moreover, when design is divorced from manufacturing considerations, the result is often a product that is too expensive to produce at scale. (Which necessitates going back to the drawing board and racking up unexpected costs.) But even beyond keeping costs in check, the design strengths of DFM can play a significant role in driving revenue.

DFM and Innovation

While DFM’s role in ensuring scalable manufacture is well understood, its role in driving innovation and elevating product design is often underappreciated. DFM imposes limits on product design. This prevents designers from dreaming up a product that is inspiring on paper but unanchored by the concrete realities of engineering and manufacturing technologies. This compels them to travel the road less taken in pursuit of novel solutions to tough yet mundane problems. In other words, designers have no choice but to innovate. Within DFMs pressure-cooker of constraint, innovation flourishes, and product design is elevated.

DFM and First-to-Market Advantage

Although it’s just one piece of the larger NPD puzzle, first-to-market advantage often plays a key role in product success. When undertaken by a one-source partner, DFM supercharges an already seamlessly interconnected and optimized NPD process, creating a clear, unencumbered pathway to expedited launch.

At Pivot, our one-source model, in-house DFM talent, NPD expertise across fourteen industries, and 320,000 square feet of manufacturing space across three continents can help you find your way successfully forward. If you’d like to learn more about how our nearly 50 years of experience can fuel your market success, contact us today for a no-obligation consultation.

We look forward to working with you!

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