Manufacturing is entering a third industrial revolution and global product development is evolving at the speed of light. Today, we can design anywhere and build anywhere.
But life isn’t always rosy – working as part of a global team can bring an array of challenges.
Increased product complexity. In a global economy, customer demands increase and the need for a variety of products in numerous shapes, sizes and designs intensifies. Product complexity is one of the top challenges global organizations have to deal with. Myriad components and hundreds of reasons for something to go wrong, puts companies under massive pressure. Delayed product releases and higher costs due to recalls leads to dissatisfied customers and employees and threatening leads, opening the door for the competition.
Disconnected global teams. In theory, teams should be adept at conducting highly complex tasks, but synergy can break down when factors like time, culture, language, distance, work methods, and business processes come into play, not to mention the challenges that arise with ever increasing mergers and acquisitions. As a result, data sharing and collaboration is strained and the risk of slowed development and negatively affected design processes increases.
Increased dependency on design and supply partners. Relationships between design and supply partners are getting increasingly complex as the involvement and relationship with OEMs is evolving. Today, many manufacturers are engaging design and supply partners even more intensively in the design process and entire systems are being outsourced.
Such complexities and strategic alliances require even deeper dependency management and IP sharing than ever before. Needless to say, this new found trust and flexibility given to partners and suppliers brings with it a whole set of challenges from fragmented product definitions to increased errors in accommodating partner data.
Protection of intellectual property. The increased dependency on design and supply partners means the intellectual property of the company is constantly put at increased risk of compromise. Expanding global reach increases the number of external parties involved, and the number of locations included. With the increased involvement in projects the risk of security breaches goes up leaving IP open and vulnerable.
Top manufacturers can design and build anywhere. Companies need a global product development strategy that improves efficiency and breaks down barriers. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by working with a single source of product information, whereby complexity is controllable and components and configurations are up-to-date and accessible through common libraries and systems. In addition, teams should be able to develop irrespective of location, culture or circumstance.
Fast and secure global product collaboration and sharing of product knowledge and expertise is also key. With the onslaught of partners and outsourced activities there needs to be a shared understanding of requirements, objectives, regulations, strategies, and approaches. With these strategies in place from a project’s early stages, companies can concentrate on what they need to – building the best products and serving their customer needs.
Top global manufacturers—including Samsung and LG—have mastered the art of designing and building anywhere, and as a result, they’ve achieved:
- Increased market share and customer satisfaction as a result of local presence
- Faster time-to-market through enhanced capacity of teams
- Reduce business risk through increased geographic revenue diversity
Wrightbus works with partners in myriad geographical location and drive those advances into its product for competitive advantage.
LG Electronics has turned its India business and sales around by tuning themselves into local requirements and demands. LG invested heavily in local R&D and staffed its operations with Indian designers and engineers. Today, LG is India´s market leader in entertainment and kitchen appliances.
Samsung has become more attuned to local conditions particularly in Kenya, Africa, where they introduced solar powered laptops because electricity supply is often distrusted but sunshine is in abundance. In the meantime, other household appliances are protected using this source of power in the event of electricity cuts.
What global product development challenged have you faced? How are you overcoming them?