Developing new products or modifying existing ones involves a lot of research, decision making, and collaboration. This makes the process difficult to manage properly with spreadsheets. It also creates challenges in keeping the information accurate and other departments in the loop.
The good news is there is software to take those challenges out of the process. Aligni Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is purpose-built to handle the tracking of changes to products and specifications during the product development stage. The software does this more efficiently than home grown spreadsheet processes because it uses an item master database at its core. This database stores part information, pricing & availability, vendor details, and even buyer conversations in an easy to update and search manner.
The Algini PLM software goes further as it is designed to integrate easily with other departments. This integration extends to inventory and purchasing through its own application interfaces designed for each functional area.
Keep product part costs inline before going into production
Hitting product cost targets is a crucial component of the product development process. It helps determine if the product will be profitable for the company and whether it will be competitive in the market. As product complexity increases, it becomes more and more difficult to make sure targets are hit and costs remain under control. Aligni PLM provides the ability to manage all of those aspects within its Bill of Materials (BOM) tool. The system captures the part pricing and collates it by the quantity of part used to keep a running project total managers can count on to keep projects from spiraling out of control.
How does the software do this? Aligni calculates build costs from current and previous quote and purchase pricing saved within the system. Engineers and designers do not have to sort through old purchase orders, quotes, or archived email chains to locate the pricing data. Aligni automatically makes the data available by part numbers referenced within the project’s BOM.
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Speed product development by searching parts already in the system.
For many companies, product lines tend to have similar functionalities, performance specifications, and customer requirements. That usually leads to potentially higher part sharing between products. Having a searchable database that contains all currently used components can bring benefits to the product development process. Aligni PLM provides just that to engineers looking for the best part for the next product.
Using Aligni’s part item master, engineers win by being able to quickly search parts already being used elsewhere in the company instead of going outside for every new need. This saves time by reducing vetting effort previously applied to parts that perform the same functions. It also makes the part information readily available within Aligni’s item master database. Engineers reduce the time waiting to receive part specifications from vendors or test results to prove functionality.
There is substantial benefit to the purchasing process when previously sourced parts are used instead of finding new ones. Buyers see a reduction in repetitive sourcing efforts for alternative parts. They also may see a reduction in time spent vetting new suppliers for those parts. Depending on total part demand for the new product, buyers may be able to negotiate lower per-unit costs from sourcing larger batches of current parts rather than breaking purchase quantities across a number of parts with interchangeable specifications.
Keep track of changes with BOM management and ECM functionality
The process to arrive at a market-viable, cost-effective, and producible product is virtually never a straight-line affair. Requirements change, parts become unavailable, components are found incompatible with others, or other events can derail a smooth development path. Keeping track of all those twists and turns can be almost as difficult as solving them. What makes this aspect of the process easier is engaging a software system designed to handle the complexities of product design: Aligni PLM.
By tracking the changes to a product’s parts list within Algini’s BOM functionality, engineers can not only have an up-to-date understanding of the current condition of the product, but also a searchable record of how the organization arrived at the current revision level.
Going further, Aligni PLM contains integrated Engineering Change Management (ECM) capabilities. ECM processes are another avenue to go into detail recording the changes needed within the product. It’s also a process that other departments within the organization have experience using. Purchasing and quality control personnel are typically experienced with filling out ECRs and ECOs. Digitally integrating these into the product development process provides the company with a better result based on inter-departmental collaboration
Get control of process, get control of efficiency
New product development can be an exhausting process. It can compound with managing all the parts and information that needs to be tracked within the project. Having the right tools to smooth the process is almost a necessity to not only hit the project specifications but also to make sure it’s done properly and in a timely manner.