How would you rate your cable product development? When it comes to product ‘innovation velocity’ – an ambitious roadmap to deliver the cable products of the future – many manufacturers find themselves paralysed by fear of not getting it right. Rightly so, since failure can be costly owing to high value materials and the highly specialised skills needed for R&D.
There may also be some uncertainty around whether the product:
- will sell
- will conform and pass UL or CPR
- will impact profitability because of the cost of associated material and labour variances, or
- is manufacturing process ‘capable’ – in other words, can it be made easily, if at all?
When looking to fine-tune your approach, it’s useful to consider the roles CableBuilder and CableMES can play at different stages of the product development process.
Focus on the best ideas
Innovation, of course, starts with an idea. Usually, there is no shortage of ideas since the demands of different cable sectors and settings is myriad.
The product development must hone in on and prioritise the best ideas. But what makes one idea better than another? Client engagement may well identify ideas for the cable product roadmap but these desires must be considered within the context of a detailed impact analysis.
Once an idea has been developed into a practical solution, it can be analysed to consider its potential impact. Every ERP and CRM system offers powerful tools to analyse commercial viability and the market share a new innovation will penetrate.
A CRM won’t, however, be able to analyse product performance and cost impacts. Investing in a specialist system like CableBuilder can ascertain if:
- redesigning the cable gives the same or better performance
- the innovation will comply to international and local approval bodies; and
- the cost of manufacturing the new product make it profitable.
Together with CableBuilder – which simulates cable performance and manufacturing cost – CableMES gives the full picture on the viability of any innovation; comparing the process performance to historical manufacturing trends, and cross referencing to the practical experience of the plant in making similar products.
There is a risk to any innovative process; it simply needs to be controlled. Manufacturers need not just a strategy to mitigate risk but the tools to control the process of innovation itself.
By accepting failure as part of innovation, cable manufacturers can truly accelerate the velocity of introducing of new products. This is critical in some sectors when demand switches very rapidly to new products, and the survival of the company depends on their ability to respond.
Failure, in fact, needs to be considered as part of success. In other words, product development should fail fast but safe – and at the lowest possible cost. How?
- By setting parameters and criteria for alerts, capturing a failure event before it happens
- By making all the information readily available for the R&D team to take quick decisions to remedy the situation. The CableMES dashboard is an ideal place to set up and capture all alarms and related information.
- Use CableBuilder to design and redesign, simulate performance and cost, and try different scenarios
- Use CableMES historian to ensure the manufacturing process is capable
- Once in the trials phase, use CableMES to monitor the manufacturing process, including any variances. Most importantly, use it to set parameters so failures can be detected as quickly as possible, allowing timely decisions to correct them
- Once the product is in rollout mode, use CableBuilder and CableMES together to continuously monitor and raise the alarm if the manufacturing process deviates from the design parameters. This includes the performance of the cable, but also quality and cost.
The route to successful product innovation in the cable industry is putting together a process and set of tools to design the product and monitor its development and rollout. Problems will be found and engineers can correct them quickly. If such a feedback process exists, manufacturers can truly accelerate the velocity of innovation and minimise risk.
For further information on Cimteq’s range of products, please contact Katy Harrison, Marketing Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
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