GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski
We’ve heard a lot about long supply chains that have broken down, parts shortages, and long lead times. Granted, supply chains have been stressed, but we’ve designed out any sort of resiliency. Our supply chains are inflexible, our products are intolerant to variation and multiple sources for parts, and our organizations have lost the ability to quickly and effectively redesign the product and the parts to address issues when they arise. We’ve pushed too hard on traditional costing and have not placed any value on flexibility. And we’ve pushed too hard on efficiency and outsourced our design capability so we can no longer design our way out of problems.
Our supply chains are inflexible because that’s how we designed them. The products cannot handle parts from multiple suppliers because that’s how we designed them. And the parts cannot be made by multiple suppliers because that’s how we designed them.
Now for the upside. If we want a robust supply chain, we can design the product and the parts in a way that makes a robust supply chain possible. If we want the flexibility to use multiple suppliers, we can design the product and parts in a way that makes it possible. And if we want the capability to change the product to adapt to unforeseen changes, we can design our design organizations to make it possible.
There are established tools and methods to help the design community design products in a way that creates flexibility in the supply chain. And those same tools and methods can also help the design community create products that can be made with parts from multiple suppliers. And there are teachers who can help rebuild the design community’s muscles so they can change the product in ways to address unforeseen problems with parts and suppliers.
How much did it cost you when your supply chain dried up? How much did it cost you the last time a supplier couldn’t deliver your parts? How much did it cost you when your design community couldn’t redesign the product to keep the assembly line running? Would you believe me if I told you that all those costs are a result of choices you made about how to design your supply chain, your product, your parts, and your engineering community?
And would you believe me if I told you could make all that go away? Well, even if you don’t believe me, the potential upside of making it go away is so significant you may want to look into it anyway.
Image credit: Pixabay
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