Connecting the Dots: Leveraging the Linkages between Design and Manufacturing

In the current era of dynamic digital transformation, the kernel of creativity that lies behind the industry’s drive for genuine innovation – or better yet, disruption – can determine the success or failure of a company or brand initiative. Innovation is how value is created and added for the customer. It is how a company like Molex captures trends and ideas and implements them early in design to ensure they support customers’ need for innovation that ignites advantage.   

But innovation can’t happen in a vacuum and still win. As French film director, Francois Truffaut, has been known to say: To succeed as a movie director, one had to be a businessman in the morning, and a poet in the afternoon.

For Molex and other transformational high-tech organizations, the saying holds very true. Pragmatic planning and decision-making, synchronized data integration, and delivery at speeds approaching real time remain the key to finally achieving ROI and successfully adding value for the customer, for Molex, and for suppliers.

Efficiently pulling together the inter-linked strands of a product’s development lifecycle  ultimately reaps benefits for the end customer. A company’s well-conceived and integrated New Product Development (NPD) program can achieve these efficiencies, leading to added value for customers, speeding time to market and time to revenue, all while creating cross-industry synergies and linkages that promote product quality for the tighter tolerances and challenges of next-generation systems and communications. With such demonstrable efficiencies in play, customers can feel safe in the knowledge that they’re working with a trusted partner, now and for the future. So, how does a company achieve these efficiencies and synergies?

2016: The NPD Revolution at Molex

This is the insight behind Molex’s commitment beginning in 2016 to put NPD on a solid footing, in a new process where global teams would feed results, according to some KPI metrics, into an integrated database to first record numbers. The goal of the 2016 NPD 1.0 process was to achieve a happily synced unison, global in scale, to align gaps in new design projects and opportunities identified through a prescriptive, step-by-step progress to mass production.

Product sourcing was to have a new lease of life, based on dedicated support and oversight throughout the complexities of locating suppliers and handling negotiations. As an example, the NPD Sourcing members would be strategically located in the Molex Design Centers, close to the critical engineering resources, and senior management would have an accurate overview of the status of individual projects at their fingertips.

Out With the Old, In With the New

The original NPD 1.0 relied on a manual process for the monitoring of classic KPIs that included hit rate/win rate; cost avoidance; and accuracy in quotations. NPD 2.0, adopted in 2020, replaced these KPIs with a more systematic approach, across all Molex divisions, using a more meaningful set of KPIs:

  • Architectural cost: BOM & CAPEX Targets Vs Actual results. If targets are missed, NPD teams are required to prepare an action plan to close the gap.
  • Design for supply chain: Focused on risk assessment and mitigation, the aim is to accurately assess risks at an early stage and define required mitigation when there is still time to make a difference.
  • Design for Procurement: Aims to build stronger supplier relationships with ‘best-in-class’ preferred suppliers. At the end of the day it can’t just be a question of the best component at the cheapest price. We must ask, does the supplier actually deliver service and does it add value for the supplier, customer and end user?
  • Cycle time for product development and launch: This phase ensures that a project is on-track and meeting sourcing deadlines with an eye for achieving critical on-time deliverables.

NPD 2.0 enabled assurance that all data for these KPIs were recorded in a uniform and accessible way and were referenceable throughout the mass production phase. This consistent way of working allows for linkages that can be leveraged between the NPD teams, with all of the data relating to the status of individual projects instantly available. Importantly, NPD 2.0 at Molex is tightly aligned with the existing Project Development Process (PDP) through all stages of a product’s development lifecycle, minimizing ‘learning’ time as team members migrate towards full adoption of NPD 2.0, while also moving ahead towards NPD 3.0.

NPD: A Rolling Treadmill

Molex’s NPD has become a rolling treadmill in both a positive and progressive way. In 2021, NPD 2.0 will be upgraded to become NPD 3.0, bringing with it even greater visibility to NPD Sourcing data. For example, the Procurement organization will have instant access to New Project BOM data at greater levels of granularity, including individual components and part numbers, and their named suppliers in order to keep the BOM costs as low as possible.

At Molex, Power BI software keeps the projects fully in line as a function of the four critical KPIs in a clear visual format that can instantly provide answers for such queries as:

  • Are we on track with our KPIs?
  • Which projects are meeting the KPIs or not?
  • What’s the status of a particular project?

When the data rings true with solid KPIs, the answers will be positive, especially when a cadence of data input and a consistent RPM tool used across all divisions and sub-sectors eliminates incompatibilities and IT software and hardware bottlenecks.

The Genius of the RPM Tool

The SAP RPM tool (Resource & Portfolio Management) includes details of all New project’s priority aligned to a KPI overview that spotlights the four critical KPIs: BOM Cost; CAPEX Cost; Final Preferred Suppliers; and Risk Assessment. It also ensures that the unique perspectives from each engineer of what constitutes priority – from revenue generation to new market opportunities – can be properly baselined to the priorities deemed collective priorities for the business. The uniformity and data integrity of this integrated approach eliminates the time-consuming production of manual reports in multiple formats and streamlines data assimilation, improving efficiencies, speeding time to market, and turning innovation into added value.

With NPD 3.0, Molex promises a fully visible spectrum of all the NPD opportunities in the pipeline, to Link & Leverage our NPD data, including the ‘holistic’ management of product costs, along with more ‘comprehensive’ negotiations with suppliers aligned to business and customer priorities.  In the new world of Molex New Product Development 3.0, innovation has an important seat at the table.

Director of New Project Development Sourcing CCS and Director of Japan Supply Base Management