Today, European supplier companies participating in their customers' development of new products are reporting a range of problems, leading to cost increases as well as delays which sometimes may jeopardise entire projects. The vast majority of these companies are in the SME range. Even when a supplier company does not perform product development, it is normally more or less involved in the development process. In some development phases, the need for communication may be very great. A business branch where these problems of product development are highly accentuated is telecommunications, especially in connection with mobile phone systems development. Many SME companies that participate in product development have observed the need for earlier involvement in the customer's development processes. The situation has, however, become even more complicated in recent years, since suppliers have got increased responsibilities. Furthermore, the complexity of the end-products as well as their components has increased during many years. This means that different technical disciplines may have to be managed, e.g. mechanical as well as electrical. In branches exposed to heavy competition it is also necessary to work with new concept development and detailed design in parallel. The purpose of this project is to develop a new methodology for rapid and flexible product development in customer/supplier networks, with the participation of several supplier categories (horizontal as well as vertical co-operation) on different supplier tiers, enabling a reduction of the development-related costs of SME-size suppliers of 50 % and of the overall time-to-market for new end-products of at least 25%. Another important goal is to find ways of at least halving the time from production start until the costs are brought down to the budgeted level. Important innovative aspects of this proposal include a holistic approach and concern for the limited resources available at SMEs and consideration of vertical and horizontal co-operation, simultaneously. Furthermore, there will be a focus on compressed development where concepts and detailed solutions may be developed partly side by side. In addition, product data as well as project management data will be communicated electronically. The new methodology will include components of working practices and latest information technology combined in a new and innovative sense. By employing this new methodology, significant improvements for SME suppliers and their customers may be achieved. For instance, improved communication between the companies is expected to cut the travel related costs by 50%. In addition, reduced travel will have positive environmental effects. Most important, however, is the reduced lead-times and expected improvements of the products (better adaptation to the processes, reduced number of components and reduced rejection of material). The expected overall lead-time reduction could even at a low level of utilisation (0.5% in the telecommunications industry only) mean increased sales of about 40 000 kECU for the European Industry.
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
35010 S; Giorgio In Bosco
164 80 Kista
583 30 Linköping