Cookies on Zenoot

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. More info

2 minute read • published in partnership with ABGI

Insight: Coping with unpredictable market conditions

Most supply chains are now under pressure to develop strategies to help them cope with unpredictable disruptions and ensure the chain can maintain its integrity through turbulence and uncertainty. Sandy Findlay from ABGI looks at some tools that can help manufacturers cope.

The supply chain issues which began causing problems for industry and consumers in the first half of this year aren’t resolved yet and many commentators expect they will continue into the medium-term, perhaps through into the second half of 2022.

Manufacturers are still reporting disruptions to raw materials supplies including metals, plastics, composites, electrical components, and a host of other consumables.

There are many tools available for manufacturers to help manage any potential supply chain challenges / Picture: Getty/iStock

Some tools to manage the disruption

The use of CAD (computer aided design) and PLM (product lifecycle management) packages can significantly aid the speed of response in managing unpredictable conditions. Particularly when dealing with complex challenges such as substituting materials or components not readily available. The use of a CAD package can assist the design and testing of new solutions for impact on functionality and performance. While a PLM package allows a company considering changes in designs and materials, to assess the full impact that making those changes might have on each member in their supply chain.

At its most basic level, CAD allows users to assess whether a new material meets performance requirements, such as:
impact on overall weight of the finished product,
the functional lifespan of the material and by extension, final product.

A CAD package can also be put to good use in planning effective alterations to the geometry of a product, such as:
slimming down a design to reduce raw material requirements and maintain the strength and robustness of the finished product;
identifying whether changing the design might create new unforeseen product performance or manufacturing challenges.

Collaboration to accelerate innovation across the supply chain

As well as allowing companies to experiment with variable designs and components, these packages give them the opportunity to share design iterations with suppliers and collaborators, gaining wider feedback on ideas, improving the quality of decisions and the speed of innovation. Additionally, the capability to automatically generate updated bills of materials and manufacturing documentation ensures that all members are kept abreast of the impact of proposed design changes within their own part in the value chain.

A CAD package combined with product lifecycle management software can help companies to quickly understand the impact of changing one component across the whole value chain, allowing all involved to:
understand how many other components might be affected,
what documentation needs to be updated and,
which stakeholders need to be notified of changes.

Using CAD and PLM software together creates a documented history of design revisions and iterations, providing full traceability of changes in designs, bills of materials and manufacturing documentation.  Allowing fast and pain free switching between design iterations, giving supply chains the flexibility they need in times of volatility and turbulence.