Three Important New Product Industrialization Guardrails



Back in the Precambrian era, I was a young engineer working for GE Plastics’ Electromaterials division. Communication has come a long way since then. We sent Telexes and faxes, early versions of email were emerging, our version of Instagram was a projector slide show at Thanksgiving and we met in person all the time. 

What hasn’t changed are the core fundamentals that make new product industrialization efficient. This article aims to explain three guardrails that you should consider as you develop new products.

The Three Most Important New Product Industrialization Guardrails:

#1:  Emerging Components and Materials Should Be Avoided

Striving to create cutting edge products, designers often latch on to emerging materials and sub-assemblies that can be unproven, incompatible and single-sourced. 

This can result in an incoherent design that’s impossible to build. 

We encourage our clients to limit the technological diversity and complexity of their new designs. Rely on proven and well understood manufacturing methods and materials that are widely available. Including EastBridge early in the game allows for rationalization of the design and guiding it with realistic manufacturing and commercial constraints.

#2: Don’t P**s Off Your Suppliers

Regardless of the size of your company or manufacturing program, nothing will drive off a supplier faster than unnecessary complexity, weird requests and movable goal posts. 

News Flash – factories want to make money! This involves getting your BOM localized, quickly generating and validating the tooling, drafting manufacturing methods documentation, developing test and certification protocols, building packaging and getting the products out the door. 

It doesn’t involve endless rounds of design revisions, going silent on them while you redesign, specifying sole-source components built by flaky vendors (or not specifying a CTF material), ordering a half dozen qualification units in nine custom colors, and failing to assign part numbers to each and every part.

#3: The (Supply Chain) Trend is Your Friend

While it’s theoretically possible to build a wearable fitness tracking device in Luxembourg, there’s probably a good reason why no one is… Yes, we could identify and qualify vendors of the wristbands, bezels, tiny displays, seals, buttons and batteries and airlift all the pieces to Ettelbruck, but that would be damn hard.

Instead, we recommend leveraging the ecosystems of specialized suppliers that are in place in global manufacturing centers. Contract manufacturers have expended considerable effort in cultivating and training their supply base. The vendors are usually located nearby, have refined their products to support their customer’s needs and have strong commercial relationships. These conditions are difficult to replicate halfway around the world. Working with the existing network will accelerate the process and shorten your time to market.


Jack Daniels


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