Design-to-Source Intelligence: Enabling Smarter and Faster Design Cycles 

As modern devices become more complex, the task of designing them becomes equally as challenging.  The needs of modern users are driving the demand for devices that deliver greater energy efficient, advanced functionality and reliability in harsher conditions than ever before.  Designers rely on innovative component solutions to ensure that manufacturers seize the competitive edge they need to succeed.

This reliance on components is not new, but it has been brought into sharp focus over recent years by global events that have affected us all.  The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 created lasting effects that we are still facing today.  Local outbreaks and regional responses are still causing business interruptions, from logistics to manufacturing productivity.

The Challenges of the Global Supply Chain

These effects have combined with, and in some cases were the cause of, significant supply challenges.  The industry is still faced with shortages of raw materials and finished goods around the world, caused in part by the slowdown of global industry due to the pandemic, but also by increased demand for the latest technology.  The global electronics landscape is being transformed by advances in many markets, including the electrification of the automotive industry, the growth of artificial intelligence and the demand for the high-speed connectivity that powers the Internet of Things.

We have also seen how local and regional events can have significant global implications.  The shipping industry has been affected by a range of events, from accidents at sea to long-lasting regional conflicts.  However, the speed of modern communications and the global nature of the marketplace mean that users and consumers continue to expect the latest innovations to be available quickly.

These have all combined to create huge complications for designers and manufacturers.  Any new product is a collection of many components that are combined to create the whole.  Designing that new product cannot simply be an exercise in selecting the best component for the role.  Any of these events, whether local or global, can cause any component to become hard to find, or even completely unavailable.

The Complex Design Cycle

The effects of these shortages can be profound.  The creation of a new product from initial concept to its introduction into the market is a complex process.  At the initial stages, the designer will conduct research and select the components that best fit their requirements.  This research is greatly assisted by the availability of accurate and complete information, from specifications to highly detailed 3D models. 

However, the availability of these products – or their shortage – may not be immediately apparent.  If the designer does not consider the supply chain implications of their component choice, these challenges may not become clear until the product is ready to enter production.  A component may become obsolete, or demand elsewhere in the market may have created a shortage.  The resulting search for a replacement can be create unnecessary challenges.  It may even necessitate a redesign of the product itself to accommodate an alternative, with accompanying cost increases, delays and even the need for recertification.

The Supplyframe Solution

The Supplyframe Design-to-Source Intelligence (DSI) suite addresses these challenges by making procurement an integral part of the design cycle.  Designers choose their preferred components to create a living bill of materials (BOM) from the 600 million components that form the Supplyframe database.  This database has been created for engineers and procurement professionals and is backed up by a wealth of design information, from ECAD and 3D models to performance characteristics and product lifecycle information. 

Using the designers bill of materials, the Supplyframe DSI uses artificial intelligence technology to continually collect information about the customer’s chosen parts.  It monitors global search activity to highlight parts that are – or will be – in high demand.  It monitors availability and stock levels to warn designers if parts are hard to source.  It takes input from component suppliers to alert the designer to possible End-of-Life notifications.  It also searches through the global distribution channel to determine the most cost-effective source of each part.

This wealth of data can therefore be used to create a health check for the bill of materials.  In this way, the challenges of sourcing components from a supply chain under stress can be addressed at the earliest stage of the design cycle, before a single component needs to be procured.  Manufacturers can also avoid potential delays caused by the need for redesign and ensure that their product is sourced in the most cost-effective way.  In a landscape that rewards quick response and flexibility, the Supplyframe DSI solution allows manufacturers to reduce their time to market. 

Enabling Molex’s Intelligent Digital Supply Chain (IDSC)

The benefits for the manufacturer are measurable.  By making the procurement considerations part of the design cycle, manufacturers can accelerate their time to market mitigate risks while the cost of redesigns can be significantly reduced.

The Supplyframe DSI solution also benefits the component supplier.  It collects data on design activity from around the world, allowing suppliers to make informed decisions on capacity, component availability and even the introduction of new products. 

The Supplyframe DSI solution is a global solution for modern, global supply chains.  It collects data from component suppliers around the world and uses this information to create a unique tool for design and procurement professionals.  It helps manufacturers reduce costs, shorten time-to-market and minimize the delays caused by shortages and obsolescence. 

Molex is deploying the Supplyframe Design-to-Source Intelligence as part of the Intelligent Digital Supply Chain initiative (IDSC). Tools and solutions such as the DSI help to connect and streamline the complete flow from sourcing, as part of New Product Design (NDP), all the way through volume production.  In addition, the solutions support the quoting workflow between Molex and their global supply base.  The Molex Intelligent Digital Supply Chain is designed to use state of the art tools and solutions to deliver industry leading customer experience and supplier collaboration. For more information about this exciting new development, read Supplyframe’s issued press release.

Senior Vice President, Supply Chain