A shorter time-to-market is more important than ever. A new product that hits the store shelves too late, quickly becomes unsaleable. Nokia and BlackBerry are all too familiar with this situation. How do you prevent your innovative product from gathering dust in the shop? These points will allow for a time-to-market that really makes the difference.
Each year clothes manufacturers and retailers are left with 21.5 million items of unsold garments, for instance due to manufacturers misjudging the trends. MVO Nederland reached this conclusion in 2016 after research. A large part of this ‘mountain of clothes’ is sold per kilo to commercial purchasers, it is destroyed or given to charities.
One way of preventing this waste and loss of turnover is by bringing supply and demand closer together. Chains like Zara and H&M go about this by creating smaller collections. Rather than offering a winter and summer collection, they provide something new each quarter or every month. By rapidly designing, producing and distributing clothes, they can always respond to the latest trends. The designers check which items sell well in the store at that time, and create the new ‘micro-collection’ variations for this.
A rapid ‘time-to-market’ is not only important in the fashion industry. Car manufacturers also want their models with the latest gadget in the showroom before the competitor introduces a similar innovation. The same applies to producers of smartphones, pushchairs and kitchen aids.
To get a product on the market as quickly as possible, it is important that all teams within an organisation work closely together. In the ideal situation, all steps in a product’s lifecycle – from market survey to planning, manufacturing and marketing – are taken almost instantaneously. The marketing campaign should, for example, already be defined before the design is finalised. In this way you can ensure your product will be a success before it is even realised.
Ingredients for acceleration
But how do you make sure that teams optimally collaborate? Here are some significant focal points that should be considered:
- Digital continuity
In the present age, it is unthinkable that the design department would work with an outdated version of the design, or that the engineering department would forward a design to the manufacturing department that is impossible to build. Valuable time would be lost, and errors would be lurking.
For an effective collaboration, it is important that everyone at all times works with the same data set, which is available from one single database. There should be one ‘Google Doc’ that everybody works in, rather than having different versions of a file in different places. Changes will then be visible for everyone, and there will be no confusion about which version is leading. Manufacturing or maintenance can also easily find out what calculations are based on. Dassault Systèmes calls this ‘digital continuity’.
This digital continuity requires a 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Everyone involved in the life cycle of an asset or product has access to this platform. The different departments work with data sets from one and the same database.
Whether it concerns Product or Asset Lifecycle Management: if you put all of the loose elements in Excel files, you will lose the overview. This makes it difficult to predict the impact of a design choice on maintenance or production.
It is better to put all available information into a model. You can then visualise, calculate, simulate, and analyse the data, so that the consequences of a specific design choice quickly become comprehensible for everyone.
Select a platform that is data-driven, rather than file-driven. Files are static and do not automatically change if the data is changed. A boarding pass for a flight that has been sent per e-mail won’t change if there is a gate change. The information on the boarding pass has in fact already become outdated.
A file is an electronic version of a piece of paper. In contrast, data is dynamic, and can be used for calculations, simulations, model manipulation, visualisations, and so on. You can do what is necessary to reach the dot on the horizon. In a data-driven approach, any gate change will immediately become visible on your electronic boarding pass.
Using a model-based, data-driven approach – as well as using one single database – can reduce the time-to-market significantly, as demonstrated by practice. This does however require a transformation.
Each company will have to make this transformation at its own pace. But then change is necessary to stay competitive. Change requires vision, strong leadership and collaborating with the right partner. Dassault Systèmes not only provides the tools for the digital transformation, but also the know-how and expertise.