Product lifecycles in many industries continue to shrink, says Preuninger. "Seasons" can last for as little as a matter of weeks. In response, manufacturers need to speed up the process of moving from design and raw materials planning to cost calculations, sourcing decisions, assembly of the product and shipment to the customer on a just-in-time basis.
Companies today “need to coordinate activities with a lot of players,” says Preuninger. “Many times organizations are located halfway around the world [from one another]. It’s challenging to keep everybody in synch.”
There’s also a need to manage the entire product and selling lifecycle. What’s more, everything must be done at the right price. A missed shipment, caused by glitches such as a customs hold or missing document, can quickly throw a plan off track.
Complicating the picture is the growing tendency of companies to outsource product design. That’s just one more opportunity for a disconnect, says Preuninger. Good planning and communications across parties can ensure quality control and avoid unexpected delays in product development.
The notion of collaborating with multiple tiers of suppliers is a relatively new concept, says Preuninger, but it’s one that companies are starting to embrace. “We’re still at the very beginning of this process,” he says, “but there’s a good opportunity to start to make early investments.”
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