“Design For” Thinking During New Product Development Improves Supply-Chain Resiliency

The past year has brought a wide range of changes to the world and our lives. From the way we work to the way we shop and more, the pandemic has created major shifts in consumer behavior and expectations. As a result, connectivity across great distances has never been more important.

Keeping this reality keenly in its focus, Molex helps customers across industries make a connected world possible — not only with our innovative solutions but with a world-class supply chain that focuses on providing reliability and service to our customers.

At the heart of this is a global organization built on a shared vision of mutual benefit between our customers, our suppliers and our employees. We continually evaluate and invest in capabilities that empower our teams to better serve customers, work with suppliers and create value. One of those critical capabilities is “Design For” thinking, which Molex applies during new product development (NPD) that enables enhanced supply-chain resiliency throughout our product lifecycles.

The impact of effective “Design for Supply Chain” strategies have been put to the test during the pandemic, responding to lockdowns, new protocols and unprecedented logistics events. It’s easy to forget that disruptions in global supply chains are not reserved for pandemics. Lesser-known events this year, including extreme cold in Texas, a cargo ship blockage of the Suez Canal, power outages in southern China and a fire at a semiconductor factory in Japan have all driven supply and demand disruptions.

For Molex, anticipating and mitigating potential supply chain threats starts at the beginning of our NPD lifecycle.  NPD sourcing initiates the linkage for our end-to-end Intelligent Digital Supply Chain. We enhance our supply chain and provide an optimal customer experience by applying these four NPD sourcing strategies:  Design for Architecture, Design for Supply Chain, Design for Procurement, and Time to Market. 

Design for Architecture

The “Design for Architecture” methodology involves deep collaboration with both customers and supply chain partners to make sure supply chain resiliency and reliability are a crucial part of product development. Utilizing new data-driven intelligence capabilities, we design-in component optionality and leverage actionable insights on technologies, materials, categories, suppliers, and markets to help our designers make better product-architect decisions. Access to real-time data informs us of opportunities and risks so we can plan for potential obstacles during the design phase and make adjustments as the product matures. Our ultimate goal is to deliver reliability and best-in-class service to our customers throughout the lifecycle of the products we deliver.

Design for Supply Chain

 “Design for Supply Chain” drives end-to-end supply chain risk assessments and mitigation, from our purchasing of raw materials and other sourcing to product delivery. It involves new product development teams working closely with category management and other supply chain stakeholders utilizing comprehensive intelligence capabilities to develop contingency plans, alternative sourcing and more.  Advanced “Design for Supply Chain” mitigates risk throughout the product life cycle.

Design for Procurement

“Design for Procurement” methodologies ensure preferred suppliers are used to maximize mutual benefit and provide safeguards to ensure that our supply chains are reliable and compliant. Establishing relationships with trusted suppliers is a crucial part of NPD and supply chain security. In addition to the ethical matter of following laws and regulations as well as humane practices, the use of preferred suppliers that have proved compliance in areas such as conflict minerals, for example, protects our production from the potential instability generated by noncompliant organizations and behaviors.

Time to Market: Product Development and Launch Cycle Time

As programs move from NPD to production, Molex continually monitors and mitigates for emerging supply chain risks.  We do this by leveraging Molex’s Intelligent Digital Supply Chain capabilities and working closely with key supply chain stakeholders on proactive risk mitigation such as business continuity planning and contingencies for every part capability. By identifying and planning for potential problems, we avoid delays and help ensure timely product launches.

The upshot? Reliable solutions require reliable supply chains as well as a “Design for” mentality and mindset around solution architecture, supply chain and procurement.  Further, access to real-time data reveals insights that uncover both opportunities and risks — and continuing to invest here to drive Intelligent Digital Supply Chain capabilities is vital to long-term success. But risk mitigation can never be far from the top of the priority list either. It starts early and runs throughout the product lifecycle to help ensure a successful NPD process.

Chief Procurement Officer