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5 Mistakes to Avoid in Product Development

5 Mistakes to Avoid in Product Development

Jun 14, 2016

By Mitch Maiman, DesignNews Everyone has been there. Done that. Mistakes are a part of life and certainly part of the learning process. Here are some of the key mistakes observed in hundreds of product development teams. Knowing this, forewarned is fore-armed. How many of these do you recognize? Losing Control of the Product Development Costs A team is armed with a good kick-off scenario. The project is launching with a well-defined scope and set of requirements. Targets have been properly designated. The team knows the mission and its goals. Six months into the project, the project engineer runs a projected, costed bill of materials and then… SHOCK. The bill of materials projection rollup vastly exceeds the target cost. What happened? In this scenario, the team lost focus on the projected cost implications in a myriad of technical decisions in the course of execution. Bad news can happen but, what you want is to have bad news discovered early. One tip for helping to identify bad news early (when there is time to course correct) is to start with sub-system and key component cost budgets. These need to be established early and validated frequently — bi-weekly is not too frequent. As an example, on complex product design projects involving electronics systems, establish early budget targets for the electronics (to the board level) and mechanical components or expected cost drivers. The numbers will likely vary as the project progresses but constant monitoring will enable the “puts and takes” to be assessed and over-runs remediated in a timely way. Worst case, cost vs. feature vs. requirements trade-offs can be made early in scenarios where it is anticipated that “the wheels are falling off the bus.” The sooner variances are confronted, the lower the impact to the project cost and schedule, or the disappointment when the features have been delivered at a cost that kills market acceptability. Losing Focus on the Product Requirements In the heat of the project, it is easy to lose sight of the complete nature of the requirements that need to be driven into the product being developed. Often, these oversights are not discovered until late in the development process. The design may...

Skilled Workforce: The Key to Reshoring and the…

Skilled Workforce: The Key to Reshoring and the…

Jun 13, 2016

“Skilled Workforce: The Key to Reshoring and the Manufacturing Renaissance” By Harry Moser and Sandy Montalbano, Manufacturing Stories The skills gap in a nutshell Demand for workers with STEM skills is rising, but business leaders can’t find enough employees to fill the demand. Though some economists argue that wages aren’t increasing rapidly, therefore there must not be a skills gap, a recent Harvard Business School study cited in a New York Times article suggests otherwise: the U.S. is facing a critical shortage of workers with technical skills because “employers are more inclined to invest in technology or hire part-time workers than spend money on training programs…[and] companies have lagged in collaborating with community colleges to develop training programs.” We see the root cause as more broadly distributed to also include our society and educational system. In addition, offshoring has played an important role in degrading our skilled workforce. First, offshoring has created the perception that manufacturing careers are not secure. Second, since domestic manufacturing has not grown as fast as in the past, there has been less investment in new technology, resulting in lower productivity growth and an inability to pay the higher wages the study might have otherwise found. Misperceptions about manufacturing A strong skilled workforce is key to reshoring and manufacturing growth but there is a misalignment between degrees and job skills. Eighty two percent of manufacturers are enthusiastically seeking engineers and CNC/3D operators and programmers. One reason for the shortage is too many students attending four-year universities, resulting in a 40% excess supply of non-technical university graduates along with soaring student debt. The disconnect is in the perception of manufacturing careers. Manufacturing today is not like it was in your grandfather’s day. It has shifted largely to modern, high-tech operations and pays on average 19% more than non-manufacturing jobs. The major obstacle to expanding the needed skilled manufacturing workforce is recruitment; too few students want to follow STEM fields, especially manufacturing, mainly due to three key issues: Perception that training is not as important as degrees Perception of ongoing manufacturing decline due to offshoring Perception that vocations/trades training is lower prestige and income than a 4-year university degree Development of a skilled workforce begins with motivating a higher quantity and quality of recruits....

How to Revitalize U.S. Manufacturing

How to Revitalize U.S. Manufacturing

Jun 8, 2016

By Bob Tita, Wall Street Journal Nine policies that could spark new growth in factory jobs and the economic benefits they bring After a long decline, manufacturing is returning to the U.S. Now it may be time for U.S. policy makers to give it an extra boost. The U.S. shed 5.7 million manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010—more than a third of the manufacturing workforce—as companies abandoned plants and workers in favor of low-cost foreign countries. But in recent years, manufacturing employment has grown slightly as the auto industry rebounded and domestic plants became more cost-competitive with those of other countries where manufacturing expenses have escalated because of higher wages. Now researchers, politicians and business leaders are coming forward with strategies to accelerate job gains and investment in manufacturing. Their ideas range from pruning regulations that raise the cost and effort of running a manufacturing operation to imposing a value-added tax on imports to beefing up training programs so companies have an easier time finding skilled workers. Reviving the manufacturing sector won’t be easy—but, these advocates argue, it’s crucial. Manufacturing is one of the best generators of wealth for an economy, requiring processes, materials and work skills that create employment and profits at each step in an assembly. Countries that don’t make anything eventually start to lose their edge in research and product development. “Manufacturing and design drive each other,” says Steven Schmid, an aerospace and mechanical engineering professor at the University of Notre Dame. “If you lose one, you’ll lose the other, too.” The U.S.’s reliance on foreign-made goods provides a conduit for trillions of dollars to leave the country. The U.S. trade deficit—the difference between what is imported and what the U.S. exports—amounted to $500 billion, or about 3% of total U.S. GDP last year. That money is used by foreign investors to purchase assets in the U.S., such as real estate or stocks, or to lend to Americans who are increasingly willing to become debt-saddled consumers. Left unchecked, the trade deficit will continue to soak up the country’s wealth and manufacturing know-how, with little more than IOUs to show for it. Here’s a look at some of the proposed strategies for...

Microservices in Manufacturing: Giving Operators the Tools…

Microservices in Manufacturing: Giving Operators the Tools…

Jun 7, 2016

“Microservices in Manufacturing: Giving Operators the Tools + Power they Need to Drive Efficiency” By Andre Wegner, Founder/CEO at Authentise, LinkedIn Full automation in production won’t be achieved in one fell swoop. Instead it’s a series of improvements that, with careful diligence and built on the right backbone, will make the long-awaited seamless art-to-part digital thread a reality. Fortunately, emergent software architecture backs this trend. We’ve got the greatest clients in the world – they’re always looking for ways to improve and teach us a lot along the way. Here are some of the things we’ve learnt from them so far: What they have: All of them have production management systems honed over years of experience, whether it’s in Additive Manufacturing (AM) or otherwise. They have processes, often encoded in software, and experienced people to make sure things run smoothly. In short: They have proven operational excellence time and time again, otherwise they wouldn’t be in business. What they want: Automation of dreary tasks so they can focus on more interesting ones. Transparency in the effort so they can seek ways to improve (and they can represent their achievements to management). What they don’t want: Something that completely disrupts the way they work or gives them multiple system/buttons to learn and use. In short: A monolithic enterprise suite that they have to learn. These goals and the way they go about them, put our clients in step with their organizations. By deploying automation, this unrelenting pursuit to improve makes their organizations as whole more agile. The piecemeal nature in which they deploy it also maintains the basic pillars of manufacturing: uptime and security. There is also a focus on action, not just insight, which we have also observed in manufacturing as a whole. Nevertheless, differences abound: Unlike organizations, individuals or small teams may lack access to the tools to fulfil their vision. Unlike individuals, organizations don’t always know what’s needed to drive efficiency at ground zero. Technology can help bridge the gap (finally, as one commentator pointed out), and its evolution towards microservices prove why (see box). Microservices enable products and processes to evolve on the spot, which is appealing in a manufacturing setting that requires incremental improvement. Building...

Three Megatrends Transforming Manufacturing

Three Megatrends Transforming Manufacturing

Jun 6, 2016

By Stephen Gold, IndustryWeek By mid-century, emerging technologies, Big Data and demographics will combine to create a U.S. manufacturing footprint dramatically different than today. We’re entering a new industrial age driven by digitalization, customization, and miniaturization that is transforming the nature of work in manufacturing. Since the turn of the millennium, the sector has evolved faster and more thoroughly than at any other time in history. Several megatrends are driving these changes and will inevitably become even more influential in the coming decades. While manufacturing will continue to generate economic growth and transform lifestyles and living standards, by mid-century the U.S. manufacturing footprint will look dramatically different than today. The recent Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) Executive Summit undertook a closer examination of three of the most important megatrends, revealing fascinating insights. Technology’s Promise and Peril. We live in a time of exponential growth in technology, with manufacturers leading the way. It was a half-century ago when Intel co-founder Gordon Moore accurately predicted that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit would double approximately every two years. After years of exponential growth, today’s smartphones possess computing power that is a million times cheaper, a hundred thousand times smaller, and a thousand times more powerful than what was possible in the mid-1960s. Such dynamic, continuous change can be highly disruptive, threatening whole industries and the workers they employ. It’s happened before, to weavers, carriage makers, and producers of camera film. But such change also leads to fresh processes and business models that generate new economic growth. For example, the Industrial Internet will create smarter factory floors and integrated supply chains that improve productivity. More broadly speaking, the Internet of Everything will connect machines, people, and data across society, leading to such benefits as a self-correcting electrical grid, better traffic flows, and reduced household energy consumption. 3D printing will enable smaller firms to simultaneously mass-produce and customize. Nanotechnology is leading to more durable, safer products and is generating medical breakthroughs that were once the domain of sci-fi writers. Of course, with the rewards of technology come significant risks. Cybersecurity threats have become a top concern for manufacturers. As an expert from Siemens observed...

Transforming the Future – IoT, 3D Printing, and Robotics

Transforming the Future – IoT, 3D Printing, and Robotics

Jun 6, 2016

SME SV Chapter Conference: “Transforming the Future – IoT, 3D Printing, and Robotics” In Conjunction with the Design-2-Part Show You can you position yourself to make a difference in the digital revolution by attending the SME Silicon Valley Conference, “Transforming the Future – IoT, 3D Printing, and Robotics.” The 11th annual conference presented by the SME SV Chapter will be held on Thursday, June 9, 2016 from 8:30 am to 4:15 pm at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Manufacturing and product design are changing at an astounding rate. And nowhere is the speed more evident than in the Silicon Valley. The impact of the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and robotics is huge, and we are just at the beginning. We are now seeing the influence of the digital revolution in our daily lives as well as in industry. Iot provides the link between data and devices to the Internet that can provide instant feedback. Integrated software tools, 3D printing, and robotics, have continued to develop and merge together. Enjoy keynotes, panel discussions, and interactive 3D Printing, laser, and robotics demonstrations. Explore opportunities for career development, and attend a Career Fair. The event will be held in conjunction with the Northern California Design-2-Part Show that runs from June 8-9, also at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The 90 minute lunch/tour allows attendees time to visit the Design-2-Part Show, where visitors can gain connections with vendors that will aid them in their product development and manufacturing. The co-located Northern California Design-2-Part Show is the largest show in the region to focus exclusively on contract manufacturing services. The 2016 show will feature nearly 200 of the finest American contract manufacturing companies exhibiting design-through-manufacturing services covering more than 300 product categories. The conference is open to SME members and non-members. For more information, or to register to attend, please visit smesv.org/conference. For more information about the Northern California Design-2-Part Show, or to register for free show admission, visit www.D2P.com....