Our Senior Analyst, Arvind Krishnan, met with Rick Burke and Damian Petrini from aPriori Technologies. The discussions centered around the critical problems faced by manufacturing companies and how aPriori’s solutions address these issues. The following are Arvind’s takeaways and observations.
How early must design engineers worry about the cost of manufacturing their products?
Typically, design engineers focus on form, fit, and function when they start a new project. Once a design is finalized, they pass it on to the team at manufacturing, who tend to worry about manufacturability and its associated costs. What happens when there is a problem with manufacturability or availability of specific components, or the costs are too high? – Results in painful design changes at the end of the design cycle. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Digital tools allow design engineers to study manufacturability and grasp the costs while designing their products.
Should design engineers think about manufacturability and its associated costs early in the design process? Can they do that today? Solutions from aPriori Technologies have answers.
I had a fantastic conversation with Rick Burke and Damian Petrini. We discussed the challenges faced by #manufacturing companies, and I got to learn aPriori’s solutions to address some of these critical challenges. The heart of this post goes back to the supply chain disruptions that the world witnessed in the past two years. Engineers found out the hard way that some of their products’ critical components were unavailable for the budgeted price. Making changes to the #design at this late stage was unviable for most companies. As a result, they could not deliver their products to their customers. Sadly, we all know what this means to the business.
Today, engineering executives want their design engineers to have a perfect grip on their product’s cost and supply chain risks. With aPriori’s solutions, design engineers can accurately simulate the manufacturing process and get an excellent estimate of the production costs. They can easily change their designs and study the impact of this change on the manufacturing cost. aPriori even allows engineers to arrive at the optimal manufacturing process for their product based on a target cost. In addition, design engineers can perform supply chain analysis for their products and optimize their designs to reduce the overall cost and risk. This optimization early in the design cycle is possible thanks to accurate cost models and extensive manufacturing process data available in the solution.
With optimized designs and alternatives modeled right from the start, companies can navigate future disruptions with minimal impact. The technology to do this is available from aPriori.
I want to thank Rick and Damian for sharing their insights with me. I will publish more insights on aPriori’s solution to tackling other vital topics such as sustainability and reshoring. Stay tuned. A big thanks to Cody Rodes Barnette for organizing this meeting.
Why do manufacturing companies care about developing sustainable products and practices?
Manufacturing consumes more than 50% of the world’s energy. This level of energy consumption has a direct impact on the environment, especially if the energy comes from non-renewable sources. Unfortunately, this is still the situation in many parts of the world. Manufacturing companies can critically examine their energy consumption and reduce it using tools from aPriori Technologies.
Why do companies care about developing #sustainable products and practices? Can they convert their intent to actual impact on the ground?
Sustainability is paramount for all companies, especially those in the manufacturing sector. Have you heard any executive on stage NOT talk about sustainability these days? According to the World Economic Forum, manufacturing consumes more than 50% of the world’s energy. aPriori Technologies‘ manufacturing insights platform can help manufacturing companies be more sustainable.
Using aPriori’s digital factory, engineers can study the total energy consumption in their company’s manufacturing processes. Engineers can go further. By doing several what-if simulations, they can converge on an optimal manufacturing process that consumes the least energy. Using the digital simulation data, companies can identify their weak spots (inefficient machines) in energy consumption and work on replacing them. Moreover, insights from digital simulation can influence design. Using this data, design engineers can redesign their products to be produced more sustainably. Digital solutions from aPriori can help manufacturing companies meet their sustainability goals.
So what is my take? Manufacturing companies are not talking about sustainability to look good. Sustainable practices make sound business sense and drive shareholder value (google ESG investing). Customers, employees, and investors demand that manufacturing companies adopt these sustainable practices. Our research also concurs. In the 2022 Lifecycle Insights’ Digital Transformation Agenda study, companies rated sustainability as the 3rd most crucial driver (behind competition and cost) to improve their engineering practices.
How can aPriori’s solutions help companies decide on reshoring?
Reshoring is a hot topic in the west. Companies looking at reshoring have to make a challenging financial decision where accurate cost inputs determine the success of the reshoring project. Digital tools with the power to calculate exact production costs have the potential to play a big role in decision making. These tools enable companies to optimize their manufacturing process, sometimes making reshoring projects financially viable.
Can digital manufacturing solutions guarantee the success of #reshoring? There is a lot more to reshoring than just digital manufacturing solutions. But aPriori Technologies‘ solutions can help answer a critical question that can help companies decide whether to go ahead with reshoring or not.
I had a small but exciting discussion about reshoring with Rick Burke recently. Reshoring has been a hot topic in North America for several years now. There is no doubt that reshoring, among other promises, offers high-quality jobs to North America and reduces the risk of supply chain disruptions. Champions who support reshoring can talk for hours, extolling its advantages. Almost all solution providers of digital manufacturing solutions have avidly supported reshoring and claimed that their tools would help companies succeed in their reshoring projects. I wish it were that simple. Shall we examine the ground realities?
Manufacturing companies don’t invest in reshoring because they have access to digital manufacturing technologies to build and operate better and smarter factories. One must remember that the same digital technologies are powering factories in the east. Companies looking at reshoring need a well-qualified workforce to support these factories, which has recently been challenging in North America. Last but not least, companies try and build factories closer to their future customers. All trends show that future growth will come from the East. But there are many industries where reshoring can happen successfully today. So how does a company decide on reshoring?
Corporate finance has an answer. Any capital project must augment shareholder value, i.e., the project must yield a positive NPV (Net Present Value). And one of the essential components in doing this analysis is the accurate production cost estimation. This is where I feel that the ability to build digital factories, which engineers can model on a computer even before laying the foundation stone for the actual factory, and accurately estimate the cost of production using aPriori’s solution will help companies decide on reshoring. Once a company makes a favorable decision, smart manufacturing solutions will come into play to further the success of the reshoring project. Till then, reshoring is a financial decision and not an engineering one.
Lifecycle Insights conducts research and publishes guidance for engineering executives. Follow us for more on digital transformation in product development.