Digital Transformation With Modular Design And Manufacturing – Podcast

Customer demands for tailored solutions is here to stay. Will your company keep up and adapt to the required changes? Listen in to this discussion with Mashesh Deshpande, Senior Director of High-Tech Industry Business Consulting at Dassault Systèmes, as he details the ingredients to the “secret sauce” that you need-to-know.

When we think of implications on the modular structure of the product, we can’t think only from an R&D standpoint; all the cross-functional stakeholders’ voices must be included – Mahesh Deshpande

Enjoy the podcast with Mahesh Deshpande.

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Podcast Transcript

Matthew Hall  0:08  
Hi, welcome to Dassault Systèmes podcast, “3D Design and Engineering. Today’s product life cycles are becoming shorter and shorter due to the fast evolution of technologies. Customer demand for tailored solutions keeps growing. We’re seeing new form factors of devices, new usages and new applications. With this, we can expect to see product architectures getting even more complex and even entirely new architectures coming up.

I’m your host Matthew Hall. And joining me today is Mahesh Deshpande. Mahesh is the Senior Director of High-Tech Industry Business Consulting at Dassault Systèmes. He’s a global industry expert in digital transformation. He consults for CXO’s and operations leaders in product development and manufacturing on the issues and process innovation strategies. Thank you for joining us today Mahesh.

 

Mahesh Deshpande  1:02  
Thanks for having me, Matthew.

Matthew Hall  1:04  
Great, glad you’re here. So welcome. And let’s just dive right in and get started and jump to our first question here.

So my first question to you today is what is your view of the architecture evolution in High-Tech products and why it’s important to systematically manage architectures throughout product development?

Mahesh Deshpande  1:26  
Yeah, the architecture at its core means an organization structure for components and modules, at the logical as well as physical levels and there are strategies by which you decompose, you arrange and you decouple the modules; eventually all these would implement the product functions. And architectures in virtually every category of products are evolving fast these days, because we have very software and electronics-intensive products, electronics, software mechanics, electrical integrations are happening at a much deeper level, to deliver complex interdependent functions. On the semiconductor side, we have multiple system-on-chip integrations happening.

There is System-in-Package that packages multiple chips at once. On the board side, there are various, board, flexible board and multi-level design strategies. On the embedded software side, we have the hardware and control software getting decoupled fast. Then, with the IoT and network connectivity, and also cloud, some of the software may not even run onboard the product, and it could run on the cloud. And we see this happening in the next generation cars, radio access networks, drones, airplanes, a lot of products, right?

Secondly, architecture management has to do with managing the definition of master architecture. To me that is managing the compatibility with the technical solutions, and compatibility with market facing variability space of features and options. It has to do with managing trade-off’s across alternatives of architecture and the total lifecycle governance, like the configuration and change management, Virtually every company now operates a portfolio of family of products and variants with it. So it’s important to manage the shared architectures, because it can really have a huge impact on the entire portfolio in terms of cost. There is the long shadow of architecture and design that can impact 70 to 80% of the total product cost. And then there is speed-to-market of new products, new platforms and variants, standards, compliance and quality costs.

Matthew Hall  4:04  
Well, another question I have for you is that most companies typically have some form of modular architecture approach. And:  what challenges do manufacturers still face today that can be addressed with a holistic modularity thinking?

Mahesh Deshpande  4:18  
I see three or four opportunities here. One is that most companies would undertake the initial step of modularizing a product line or two. Pilots go successful with the modernization benefits, but they may not go all the way to leverage the synergies of a common architecture at a portfolio level. Secondly, we still see a lot of tribal knowledge or knowledge still buried under, big piles of papers. At one big appliance maker we have seen very high maturity on the modularity thinking, but a lot of the know-how in terms of rules and constraints were buried in PowerPoint playbooks. Also at a big networking OEM company, they would still deal with hundreds of pages of documentation on complex rules, on how to compose products and variants – and imagine how many times there would be Sales proposing a solution configuration that can’t be built or that can’t be technically supported. Thirdly, we see that the beginning focus is on mechanics, and there’s still a lot of modularity to be achieved. But electronics and software again, are critical elements. And when you look at the world, growing product content through electronics and software anywhere from 60 to 70% comes from the hardware software side. So it needs to be an integral part of the modular strategy. And fourthly, when we think of implications on the modular structure of the product, we can’t think only from a R&D and product development standpoint; all the cross-functional stakeholders’ voices must be included there. For instance, manufacturerability, serviceability, procurement and supply – all these things, to me, are part of the holistic modularity thinking.

Matthew Hall  6:27  
So, you need to bring some total enterprise holistic view across everything to help break down all those knowledge silos that many companies are probably seeing these days. With that today’s product lines they have to work together to deliver a consistent, continuous customer experience. How do you go about engineering the whole product lines with modular architecture in mind, and what are the commonly encountered pitfalls and best practices that you can think of?

Mahesh Deshpande  6:53  
Engineering entire product lines for modularity can be a complex initiative. But there are two very complimentary methodologies that can be greatly helpful. One is Model Based Systems Engineering – MBSE. This is a practice of modeling requirements and functions, system architectures and the physical architectures and linking all these assets. And the second one is Model Based Product Line Engineering, which is a practice of building product models and variants from a core common architecture by reuse and variation of models, both are proven in in automotive, aerospace and High-Tech adopted by many leading companies.

The common pitfalls I come across: first-and-foremost, modularity is a business transformation. And it’s not treated as such.  This is not an IT tools project. And secondly, even though architecture is owned by RnD, Product Management and downstream functions, must have a participation in the modernization strategy in terms of what are the right choices, to partition the product into the modules, aligning the supply of choice as strategy as well as manufacturing strategies. And thirdly, organizational implication. The role of product and module architect is not often emphasized when compared to traditional engineering roles and architects are, as we talked before, are the key roles in managing and governing the architectures which are heart of the entire product.

Matthew Hall  8:38  
Another question I have for you is what are the benefits of holistic modularity to manufacturers and end customers?

Mahesh Deshpande  8:47  
So, from a manufacturer’s perspective, across the board, I can share some of the some of the KPIs that are seen as adopted by leading companies. So, we can see time-to-market reduction in the range of 30 to 50%. And we have seen one, giant appliance and consumer electronics maker experiencing 30% reduction in the product variant introduction time. Engineering resource costs could be reduced by as much as 30%, material cost 10 to 20% due to reuse and standardization; manufacturing of the assembly cost, this can be significantly improved and up to 60% due to standardization of processes and resources and reuse of modules. And even production and consolidation of suppliers by as much as 50 to 80% because of modernization strategy. That’s for manufacturers. When thinking from an end customer or consumer perspective, in the B2B space, the biggest benefit is around reduction in the delivery lead-time. Depending on the complexity of equipment, you could see from a couple of weeks, down to few days off in delivery lead-time. In consumer device space, you could experience greater personalization of the product model of your choice, better serviceability and upgrade ability because of modular architecture. And who knows if the leading smartphone makers take this direction, even modular phones, for us consumers.

Matthew Hall  10:38  
Some incredible savings there. All right. The last question I have for you today, Mahesh, is how can a digital innovation platform enable all this that you’ve been talking about?

Mahesh Deshpande 10:49
Yeah, basically, a digital innovation platform would institutionalize the tribal knowledge: the knowledge in the heads of the experts, embedded in paper, Excels, PowerPoints, and the methodology into model based digital environment – really integrating the methodology and the methods into the daily work and the decision support environment. Specifically, the digital platform would provide a unified information model. And we talked from requirements to functions into architectural and the physical design assets; a collaboration for cross-functional stakeholders, including supply chain, R&D people, procurement, manufacturing, etc.  A strong governance layer for configuration change. Traceability changes – so pervasive throughout the development cycle. So looking at all the client journeys I’m really convinced that adoption of a digital innovation platform is key to sustaining the benefits we just talked about.

Matthew Hall  12:00  
Great. It would truly, as you mentioned, expose expertise and pull that out of people’s heads and get it out for everyone – exposed to everyone can use and leverage it. Great. Well, Mahesh that was the last question I had for you today on this very interesting and complex topic. Thanks for walking us through that and thank you for the insights.

Mahesh Deshpande  12:21
Thanks, Matthew!

Matthew Hall  12:21  
Thank you for listening to our podcast with Mahesh. To find out more how Dassault Systèmes is helping companies with digital transformation with modular design and manufacturing, please be sure to visit go.3ds.com/htoe. Also, remember to subscribe to the podcast so you never miss out on another fascinating episode all available on iTunes, SoundCloud and all other major podcast channels.

I’m Matthew Hall – make it a great day.

Matthew

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