How ACDi Can Support Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) for Your Electronics Manufacturing Project

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Every product goes through a lifecycle which can be broken down into categories, as follows:

  • Stage 1 – Product Development
  • Stage 2 – Product Growth
  • Stage 3 – Product Maturity
  • Stage 4 – Product Decline

Managing the product through these phases can dramatically affect the profitability of the product, and even the success or total failure of it.

Phase 1 – Product Development

This is the genesis of the product. The concept is formed and refined. The design and development happen. Some proof of design prototypes are built and some close customers may be brought in as a focus group to supply feedback.

How ACDi can help:

The bill of m(BOM) can be checked for product lifecycle status, multi-sourcing and cost. This process finds components that may be at the end of their life, lead-time issues and high-cost drivers. ACDi can also suggest alternatives to these components in some cases. At this stage, there may be some more available components in a different footprint that would be easy to replace.

Quotes can be supplied to build the printed circuit boards. While the quantities will be low at this stage, it is beneficial to also get a production quantity quote to start budgeting for the final product cost and start looking for cost-improvement opportunities.

If the product is an upgrade of an existing product, which is often the case, ACDi may also find surface mount technology (SMT) equivalents of existing through-hole parts that can help reduce product cost and reliability.

ACDi has a team of PCB designers on staff with decades of printed circuit board layout experience. Designs range from simple boards to more than 20-layer boards with thousands of components. These include controlled impedance boards and RF boards. ACDi’s printed circuit board designers are also knowledgeable about the various design elements that increase the cost of fabricating PCBs and will work to keep the PCB cost down as much as possible. Design for Manufacture (DFM) and Design for Assembly (DFA) checks are also run to ensure the boards can be fabricated and assembled efficiently.

Prototype printed circuit boards and test printed circuit boards can be built. ACDi’s prototype build process is the same as the production manufacturing – only the quantities built are smaller. In addition to supplying the necessary hardware, this would help to validate the manufacturability of the product and start to address any issues prior to higher-volume builds.

Phase 2 – Product Growth

This stage is when the product is starting to be sold. Marketing has increased. Customers are starting to buy the product. Production volume has increased past prototype volume but is still not at full-production volume.

Typically, at this stage, some issues were discovered at the product development stage that still exist, but it was important to start getting the product into the hands of customers. The issues could range anywhere from inefficient cost drivers to minor performance or usability issues. Since the product is getting into more customers’ hands at this point, new issues may be discovered, or features may be requested. It is critical to complete any product design changes at this stage. It will affect the profitability and acceptance of the product.

How ACDi can help:

ACDi will keep you posted on any manufacturing issues or inefficiencies left. We also check the BOM at this stage and will collaborate closely with you on any new lead time or obsolescence issues that may have arisen. We can also collaborate with you on the hardware and firmware changes that may be needed. Some may be drop-in replacements while others may require cuts and jumpers and other patchwork manufacturing while any required changes are being incorporated into the design.

This is a suitable time to re-evaluate the entire BOM to find any possible lead time or availability issues, before finalizing the design and moving on to mass production.

The entire assembly and test process should also be evaluated during this phase to ensure that mass production will be as efficient as possible.

Phase 3 – Product Maturity

Product maturity is when it is time to crank up the production. Assuming the PLM up to this point has been managed well, this is the time to reap the benefits.

How ACDi can help:

ACDi will collaborate with you to develop a production and delivery schedule. Depending on how many products you forecast to sell, it may be best to build all of them at once, split into a few times a year or level-load throughout the time that the product is forecast to sell.

We will also work with you to find the best path forward for procuring materials and components for your product.  Some components may have huge cost benefits to buying them all at once, while the cost benefits on others may be negligible making it more cost-effective to buy them as needed. Other materials may have long lead times that need to be managed. ACDi can manage this supply chain for you and keep you posted on its status.

Phase 4 – Product Decline

Unfortunately, just like VHS and cassette tapes, all good things come to an end at some point. Your product will also arrive at end of life, but before it is time to phase it out, there may be a little life and customer demand left. However, some issues will pop up making the product difficult to continue. Obsolete parts are usually one of the primary prohibitors. Depending on how long your product took to get to this point, the engineers and other experts who got the product to this point may have moved on.

How ACDi can help:

ACDi can help find alternate components for obsolete parts for your consideration. When these are drop-in replacements, it is easier to implement. At times there may not be drop-in replacements. Based on our broad experience, we can also recommend other workable solutions and help implement them if needed.

All successful products have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Hopefully, that end is to launch an upgrade to take advantage of the modern technology available or alternate usages. ACDi can support the management of this product lifecycle to maximize cost-effectiveness and reliability. These savings could be used to increase profitability, enhance the product or both. Whatever lifecycle phase you are in, ACDi is ready to help. Give us a call or contact us and let us know what we can do for you.

Bob DiDonato
Engineering Program Manager