How do the best engineers and supply chain managers work together?

How do the best engineers and supply chain managers work together?

What’s the benefit of supply chain management if supply chain managers don’t enable cross-department teams? Learn from the best & optimize logistics.
Terry Jeffords

When you're building a product, there are many moving parts to consider. Whether it's a simple phone case or something more complex like an automobile engine, designing and manufacturing any product requires the input of numerous teams. One of those teams is in charge of the efficiency of the supply chain, which takes charge of the supply chain & logistics involved in bringing a product to life (and ultimately into the consumer's hands).

While engineers have been traditionally thought of as the brains behind creating physical products and systems—and they certainly play an integral role—there's more than one way to look at what makes up this team dynamic. In the fast-paced world of electronics manufacturing, seamless collaboration between design engineers and supply chain teams is crucial for success. From concept to production, every stage of the product lifecycle requires close coordination between these two teams to ensure that the end product can be manufactured efficiently and without delays. One critical aspect of this collaboration is designing Bills of Materials (BOMs) that are easy to procure, to prevent chronic component shortages that can disrupt production timelines and impact the bottom line. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of supply chain involvement in the design process and highlight best practices to ensure smooth supply chain operations in the electronics industry.

The best engineers and supply chain teams work closely together.

There are many benefits to having your engineer and supply chain ops teams work closely together. Engineers have the expert knowledge of how a product works, but they often don't know what it costs or if it can be made at all. Logistics transportation teams, for example, have a lot of experience with the logistics freight might need, but not as much knowledge about what makes people want to buy something.

Design engineers are responsible for creating BOMs, which list all the components required to build a product. However, it is the supply chain teams that have the expertise in sourcing and procurement, and they play a crucial role in ensuring that the BOMs are designed with components that are readily available in the market. Supply chain teams have insights into the current market trends, component availability, lead times, and pricing, which are critical factors that impact the procurement process. By involving supply chain teams in the design phase, design engineers can leverage their expertise to make informed decisions about component selection, sourcing strategies, and alternate component options, to avoid potential supply chain bottlenecks.

Designing BOMs without considering supply chain factors can lead to chronic component shortages, which can have detrimental effects on the production process. Some of the challenges of poorly designed BOMs include:

  1. Delayed Production: When components listed in the BOMs are difficult to procure, it can cause delays in the production process, leading to missed deadlines and potential customer dissatisfaction.
  2. Increased Costs: Component shortages can drive up component prices, resulting in increased production costs and reduced profit margins.
  3. Quality Risks: In a rush to procure components, design engineers may opt for alternate or lower-quality components, which can compromise the quality and reliability of the end product.
  4. Supplier Constraints: Poorly designed BOMs can strain relationships with suppliers, resulting in reduced supplier options or limited access to critical components in the future.

Working closely from the start means that supply chain and logistics management teams can rapidly determine whether or not designs are feasible.

Working closely from the start means that supply chain ops teams can rapidly determine whether or not designs are feasible. Increased knowledge of design intent, coupled with access to real-time manufacturing data/analytics supply chain and information about the availability of materials and subsystems, helps organizations make better predictions about how long it will take to produce a particular part or subassembly. Using software tools like Amplio, companies can have this information in hand and also advise on which parts should be produced in-house, which should be outsourced to an outside supplier, and which are best suited for a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) product.

To ensure smooth supply chain operations and mitigate the challenges associated with poorly designed BOMs, design engineers and supply chain teams should collaborate closely. Here are some best practices to consider:

  1. Early Collaboration: Supply chain teams should be involved in the design process from the early stages to provide insights on component availability, lead times, and pricing. Regular meetings and communication channels should be established to foster collaboration between the two teams.
  2. Component Selection: Design engineers should consider component availability, lead times, and pricing while selecting components for the BOMs. Opting for components that are widely available in the market and have shorter lead times can help prevent delays in procurement.
  3. Supplier Relationships: Supply chain teams should maintain strong relationships with suppliers to ensure access to a wide range of components and negotiate favorable pricing and lead times. Design engineers can also collaborate with suppliers to identify alternate component options in case of shortages.
  4. Design for Manufacturability (DFM): Design engineers should consider DFM principles while designing BOMs to ensure that the product can be manufactured efficiently without delays. This includes designing for standardization, minimizing the use of obsolete components, and avoiding over-specification of components.
  5. Continuous Monitoring: Supply chain teams should continuously monitor the market trends, component availability, and lead times to proactively identify potential supply chain risks and work with design engineers to address them.

With supply chain global experts involved from the very beginning, they can ensure that there are no delays in building prototypes, which will save your project valuable time and money.

With supply chain ops teams involved from the very beginning, they can ensure that there are no delays in building prototypes, which will save your project valuable time and money.

Supply chain and engineer collaboration is an essential part of the production process. By working together with a qualified supply chain team early on, you can avoid costs by making sure that everything arrives at its destination on time or even before it's needed. You'll also make sure that you don't run into any problems as well as help avoid delays and failures down the road.

Modern management processes are essential.

Using Amplio's BOM tool, you can manage supply chain like a pro by enabling engineers to build the best products possible while also leaning on the secondary component and robust reporting features to never settle for low-quality components or late deliveries. Our tool is designed to facilitate collaboration between every team that touches the BOM by providing a single source of truth with all the information you need to procure the BOM at your fingertips. Helpful collab features like tags and comments help everyone stay on the same page - with our tool, your engineers and supply chain team will be working together to solve shortages and preempt future challenges.

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