Manufacturers dedicate considerable cost and effort to New Product Introductions (NPI). Findings from LNS Research reveal “the median manufacturer invests 25 percent of its personnel in NPI and introduces a new product in an average of 24 months. Even with this substantial investment NPI often fails to deliver expected outcomes. Only 56 percent of new products meet all NPI success criteria." Common reasons for failure are a lack of product design and development.
What can manufacturers do to increase success rates?
As an electronics manufacturing partner we provide the right manufacturing technologies for your product at most effective times. By taking ownership of the manufacturing phases of the NPI process we ensure our customers deliver products to market faster and with the confidence the new product has been designed for high quality full volume production. This article discusses the NPI process from the Design stage to a successful design output and best practices to achieve success.
What is New Product Introduction?
New Product Introduction defines, develops, and launches a new or improved product. The goal is to get one prototype to work first under ideal conditions. The Design stage focuses on the product, not the fabrication method. Engineers work together to draft concepts for the product until the feasibility of a design path presents itself as the best solution. The NPI process proceeds with iterations until there is a final working prototype.
Many OEM's begin working with an EMS provider early in the product lifecycle of a new product to ensure faster time to market and a reduction in redesign costs. A business that is successful at the development and launch of a product follows an organised and well-planned process.
Why Implement New Product Introduction?
10 Reasons Why You Need to Implement New Product Introduction
1. Reduce Development Cost
Product design starts with careful consideration of the product requirements in the early design phase to reduce delays and redesign costs. The most cost-effective way to reduce costs and increase productivity is to consider the manufacturing and assembly problems at the product design stage.
2. Accelerate Time to Market
Today manufacturers are faced with a competitive landscape. They need to expedite their schedules in the product development cycle to be confident they can deliver their products faster to meet customer demand. This in turn leads to a quicker return on investment.
3. Efficient Manufacturing Through DFx
Adopting Design for Excellence (DFx) upfront as an integral part of the product development process produces higher quality products, lower product cost, and shorter product development cycles. A DFx team engages with the customer early on to assist designing sources of potential issues out of the product.
4. Improved Product Quality
Manufacturers can differentiate a product in terms of quality before the actual production process. Introducing Design for Quality in the design process leads to better quality outcomes.
5. Higher Customer Satisfaction
The NPI process helps meet customer needs more efficiently. In the design for manufacturability stage issues are addressed before they become sources of manufacturing defects. Improved product quality and reliability leads to greater customer satisfaction.
6. Guided Technology Decisions
Analysis tools help evaluate and streamline design considerations. This helps reduce the number of design revisions and improve reliability.
7. Better Market Adoption
Being able to focus on customer needs, expectations, and product improvement will lead to better market adoption.
8. Streamline Supply Chain Management
A product can be developed from the beginning to be supply chain efficient.
A robust product lifecycle management program that supports product in the design and development phases is imperative for product success. It should include obsolescence management that takes into account the lifespan of the components being used with a plan to replace parts as they reach the end of their life cycle or become scarce and allocated.
9. Could be the Difference Between Success and Failure
Optimising products in the design phase before manufacturing make the difference between success and failure. Product design determines product cost, quality and development cycle. Product design determines 75% of product cost.
10. Transitioning Manufacturing From an Existing Supplier to a New Supplier
Switching suppliers can seem daunting but a strategic approach can bring production efficiencies, better quality, and improved ROI. Manufacturers will soon become confident in knowing they have an optimised supply chain.
How to Implement New Product Introduction?
Define and Establish Objectives and Feasibility
Begin by defining goals and primary objectives. The budget should be heavily considered with the key stakeholders. The project manager and coordinating team should be defined at this time. A feasibility analysis is started to determine if the project/product can be successful. During the feasibility analysis the preliminary design approaches and time estimates are reviewed.
Design and Develop
A review of the design is performed while also assessing the risk in the design. DFx is initiated to address issues at an early design stage. Manufacturers can differentiate a product in terms of quality before the actual production process. The goal is to limit iterations and consider the product life cycle requirements.
Design for Excellence (DFx) consists of methods, guidelines, and standards for creating better quality products at the concept design phase. Adopting DFx upfront as an integral part of the product development process produces higher quality products, lower product cost, and shorter product development cycles.
Validate / Analysis
The common areas for analysis and review are:
- Design for Printed Circuit Board Fabrication - i.e., finishes
- Design for Manufacture - soldering, pre and post assembly review
- Design for Test - physical test access, test coverage analysis
- Bill of Materials Analysis - component life cycle review, RoHS compliance
- Box Build - design for supply chain, assembly, serviceability, metal fabrication
It is essential to design for manufacturability, testability, supply chain, quality, and more before the actual production process for efficient processes and a reliable product outcome.
Evaluate - Continuous Improvement
Review process performance and give appropriate feedback. It is important for companies to strive for "Kaizen", a term meaning continuous/incremental improvement. We continually look for ways to improve the production process.
Which Manufacturing Phase Are You Currently In?
1. Idea - You have just come up with an idea for a new product.
2. Proof of Concept - You need help defining the features, technical specification and market fit. You want to build the first prototype.
3. Final Prototype - You have multiple iterations already completed. TT Electronics is ready to enter the process at the end of this stage.
4. Design for Manufacturing - DFM suggestions are reviewed. Final product adjustments and quality plans are created to enable efficient full scale production builds.
5. Factory Selection - You have a complete design package (BOM/CAD) and you are looking for a manufacturing partner.
6. Ongoing - You are ready to scale.
Most customers have completed the Final Prototype stage and are entering the Design for Manufacturing stage when engaging with TT Electronics.
What Does Our (NPI) Process Look Like?
The NPI process involves our Pre-Production team working with supply chain partners to develop and ship new products as they emerge from a concept through production.
Successful new products launch with the right process in place the first time, on time and on budget. TT Electronics provides testing recommendations to accelerate the development and quality assurance of the manufacturing process.
New Product Introduction leads our customers through the manufacturing process:
Step 1. TT NPI Project Lead receives a customer technical data package and requirements from the customer.
Step 2. TT Pre-Production Team begins reviewing the technical data package for customer requirements and offers design for manufacturing suggestions. This includes creating a virtual model of the product using CAD data (DFM review) to ensure the components on the bill of material fit the pad locations on the PCB, spacing for minimal electrical clearance is being maintained and proper solder mask is present to prevent solder related defects among many other verification checks. Design for Manufacturing suggestions and Test strategy recommendations are presented to the customer for approval.
Step 3. Sourcing of material begins with counterfeit avoidance and detection processes.
Step 4. TT Manufacturing Engineering defines the manufacturing process, creates manufacturing instructions and any required tooling in order to meet customer requirements.
Step 5. The first article product is produced, and manufacturing processes are validated in all production areas. This includes state of the art optical and x-ray inspection to ensure product quality.
Step 6. The customer approved test strategy is performed. We offer a wide variety of test options including Flying Probe, ICT, Functional and Environmental Stress Testing.
Step 7. The first article product is provided to the customer for approval.
Step 8. The Pre-Production Team reviews the results of the First Article Inspection (FAI) build for any required process and or product updates and communicates the suggested changes for customer approval prior to the first production build.
Step 9. TT Manufacturing Engineering implements all approved changes and customer feedback resulting from the FAI build.
Step 10. The product is released for production volume builds.
Challenges Faced in the New Product Intro Process
Collaboration is crucial during the NPI process.
The following should be considered to avoid critical risks:
- Maintaining a sense of urgency related to the project
- Ensuring financing is available for the duration of the NPI process
- Timing (time-readiness and schedule)
- Integration of the design for manufacturing in the product development project.
- Acceleration of the process by not adding features where you don't have to.
- Availability of resources.
- Ensuring sufficient testing is being performed at each NPI stage.
- Lean manufacturing principles as a way to eliminate waste and improve efficiency in the manufacturing environment
- NPI best practices
NPI Best Practices
A successful NPI process involves all of the key stakeholders in the organisation. A well-aligned team consisting of members of operations, engineering, sales and marketing is key to an optimised NPI process. Establishing a solid plan allows manufacturers to meet cost objectives without compromising quality, demand, and scheduling goals.
Consider these top questions when undertaking new product introduction:
- What has your operations department discussed and considered? (the production phases, supply chain, strategy)
- What have the engineers involved reviewed? (product data management, testing, feedback)
- What influence does your sales and marketing team incur? (work with distributors, sales forecast, customer warranty)
Best Practices When Partnering with TT Electronics:
- Following TT Electronics design for manufacturing guidelines.
- Designing End of Life and Not Recommended for New Design lifecycle components out of the product.
- Including multiple approved parts on the Approved Manufacturers List (AML) for each assembly component.
- Implementing In-Circuit Test (ICT) and or Functional Testing.
- Providing TT the following items as early as possible in the NPI Process:
Printed Circuit Board Information
- Gerber and Drill Files
- Fabrication Drawing
- Paste Master (SMT)
- Panel Breakaway Recommendations
- CAD Design Files - ODB++ Format & ASCII Format
- CAD Machine Placement Files - ASCII Format (XY Coordinates)
- Assembly Drawing
- Bill of Material (Preferably in Microsoft Excel)
- Piece Part Prints with Approved Supplier List
- Test Specifications or Requirements
- Customer Unique Assembly Requirements (Coating, Solder, Lead Protrusion, Etc.)
- Bare Board Panel for Machine Programming
- Known working sample unit.
- Board Marking, Labeling, Serialisation Requirements
- Programmable Device Data – Known working device and Electronic Media
- Quality Requirements Different from TT Electronics Standard (IPC-610)
- Known Manufacturing or Test Problems and Lessons Learned from previous builds
A great NPI process is the foundation of a successful product launch that positively impacts your bottom line. While other electronics manufacturing service providers outsource engineering and construct services, TT Electronics embeds them into our thoughtfully designed NPI process, which is supported by our array of global certifications.
TT Electronics manufactures complex new products every day at our manufacturing facilities located around the world and works on hundreds of new products in various stages of the engineering, design and prototyping processes.