Over the past two years, the world has experienced an unexpected disruption from the COVID pandemic. We encountered shifts in the way we work and live that have created opportunities and exposed weaknesses. Even as people hope everything will get back to normal, the pandemic continues to alter choices that both individuals and businesses make. 

This has not been a simple shift for industries that rely on hands-on workers, manufacturers, and suppliers for their products. Organizations continue to experience supply chain shortages that impact product supply, including amplified shortages of semiconductors in the automotive industry.

To help shed light on the engineering trends and initiatives that have taken place over the past two years in product design, Lifecycle Insights conducted the 2022 Product Design on the Digital Transformation Agenda Study. This study found that organizations are dealing with greater design complexity and investing in efforts to improve product development. The results of these initiatives support in-house design processes and automation that can effectively manage early-stage shift-left product design flows from concept to manufacturing.

Tackling Design Changes In House

Lifecycle Insights’ Product Design on the Digital Transformation Agenda Study asked companies what engineering efforts they’ve formally invested in during the past two years. More than half of the companies surveyed stated that they conducted all their product design and engineering in house—a change from the previous norm, which involved outsourcing both. This is because companies are increasingly integrating shift-left technologies throughout the design flow in order to mitigate new challenges in product development. Organizations can’t stay competitive when their design flows are disjointed, and bringing design and engineering in house helps streamline those flows. 

Survey respondents also reported ramping up hiring and adding new software solutions to support increased product size and address design complexity.

Figure 1 – More than half of respondents in Lifecycle Insights’ 2022 Product Design on Digital Transformation Agenda Study reported that they conducted all their product design and engineering in house.

These companies are facing new design challenges—not just in power and signal distribution systems, but in areas like compliance, manufacturability, and beyond. Supply chain issues are driving companies to consider more than the product lifecycle. They have to ensure component availability and sourcing, address shortages with alternate sources, and spot buy. And they have to do all this while staying vigilant against a growing counterfeit component market. 

Increasing Bandwidths and Growing Endpoints

The study sought to understand companies’ investments in both mechanical and electrical design domains. The responses offered insights into specific areas of design and processes that have grown or decreased over the past two years. 

Study findings showed that organizations were increasing their formal efforts to improve the development of electrical power and signal distribution systems. In fact, 80% of respondents noted that needing to support communications and a growing number of electrical endpoints (like circuit boards, sensors, and antennas) were their top drivers for improvement.

Figure 2 – Percentage of companies investing in electrical and power distribution systems according to Lifecycle Insights’ Product Design on the Digital Transformation Agenda Study. 

This is not surprising. In the past decade, we’ve seen growing product complexity and functionality increase the number of network signals and endpoints, particularly in the internet of things (IoT), 5G, consumer electronics, and automotive industries. Along with the increasing speed of modern circuit signal transmission, electronic product design has become more complex. To be successful, companies now must meet higher-level system requirements that support system functions. 

Making the Shift

Overall, the survey results exposed several shifts in the challenges companies face and the investments they are making. Electronic products are evolving, and design flows that support multi-board systems, faster speeds, and growing technologies like IoT and 5G complexities are essential.Look for more insights into our survey results coming soon in this blog series. If you’d like to learn more about the results and insights of this extensive survey, contact Cody.Barnette@lifecycleinsights.