During the lifetime of a product, there are many external factors which can influence your ability to manufacture and deliver the product successfully. We distinguish three main sources of impact:
Demand side impact
You have developed your product to the best of your knowledge about what the market demands from your product. Your product is quite successful at fulfilling these demands, otherwise you would not sell it for a profit, and you would discontinue the product. However, it could be that your competition is catching up and there are certain features you would like to add to your product to make it more competitive. Perhaps the market demand is changing over time. Or you might want to go through a cost optimization to improve competitiveness.
During the lifetime of your product, changes to the regulatory environment can impact your product and require you to reassess your product strategy. For example, in the medical industry, the change from the MDD to MDR has forced many producers of medical devices and products to revisit their product strategy. Regulatory impact generally is known well in advance and you are probably on top of this as you are active in the market.
Supply side impact
Technology and technological products and components develop at high speed. New and faster technologies are introduced continuously, and older technologies are made obsolete. Manufacturers of components are moving in line with these developments. They will introduce new profitable products which are promising, and they will face out products which are not successful or profitable anymore.
As your product consists of many different components, there is a fair chance that somewhere during the lifetime of the product, some components are made obsolete by its suppliers. This will influence the manufacturability of your product and you will need to deal with this. This is supply side impact. The problem with supply side impact is that it can come as a surprise.
As your business relies on being able to deliver products, it is business critical to identify influences on your products early on to be able to take the right measures and ensure the continuity of the product. This is what we call Lifecycle management, and it is focused on identifying impact early on, so there is time to act. Because if you don’t know, you cannot act.
Lifecycle management service
The lifecycle management process is a repetitive process focused on identifying impact and making decisions how to deal with this impact. The process repeats itself once or twice per year and consists of:
- Impact assessment
- Solutions, business cases
- Product continuation
Typically, the demand and regulatory impact is identified by the product owner. To identify supply side impact, we use our repetitive LCM component scan.
We manage all our designs in our dedicated design software, keeping records of all the components used in the designs. With our software, we can check these records against multiple sources and databases to validate the status and availability of all the components used in the designs. We run this validation several times per year which allows us to identify any potential availability issues with components. If we find any issues with a component, we will assess the impact on the design and work towards potential solutions. Because we perform the impact assessment on a regular basis, there is normally sufficient time to act the best way possible.
There are several possible solutions to an availability problem and the best choice depends on many factors. For example, what is the lifetime expectation of the product? What are the technical implications? What is the cost of change? Are there any other desired changes to the product? What is the profitability of the product? And so on. Roughly, there are four directions possible, with an increasing impact:
- A last time buy of the component, which allows for the design to remain the same,
- the component can be replaced easily with an alternative,
- a redesign needs to take place to facilitate a component change,
- the product will be phased out and/or replaced by an alternative.
As many factors play a role, we will work towards the best solution together with you. We can estimate the cost of the different choices and together we will build a business case supporting the best decision.
Then we will set up the project to implement the solutions. Naturally this is done in our design software, ensuring lifecycle management for the future and ultimately securing continuity and deliverability of your product.