Monday, September 17, 2012

Innovation in Product Design can lead to good Supply Chain Practices

Every manufacturer thrives to ensure the customer a great product. It undergoes a lot of design changes and process, optimization techniques and few trade offs before the product is placed on the shelf. A good design process doesn’t always lie on what the customer wants but also on the ways it took for the manufacturer to get there.

“Product design for supply chain management means building products that thrive in and enhance your supply chain architecture.”[1] Product design should be in such a way that components of the raw materials used in the product are abundant. Suppliers, manufacturers network are not stressed out, there should always be alternative suppliers you can approach when need arises. The product shouldn’t require excessive inventories and pricing should appeal to the customer to buy it. Living in the world that is ever changing, there should always be room for innovation that drives the product towards having good supply chain practices. 

Consider for example, a consumer product like “Tide”. When Tide was first introduced, it is a powder detergent. Customers drove the Tide design team towards a liquid solution as the powder used to leave some powder stains on the clothes. The liquid solution is a great product design from the customer standpoint. But if you look at supply chain management aspect of it, liquid solution is quite heavier, and you have to carry all the water and the product design though loved by the customers is not optimized. The new Tide Pods has a better solution when it comes to optimizing the design. The designers have completely alienated the water from the design, and it comes in new easy to use single packets, which alienates the customer’s hassle of measuring the tide before pouring into the washing machine.

The design innovation in Tide not only lead to a great product that is hassle free and easy to use but also enhanced good supply chain process.

Think about other products which underwent innovation have actually optimized their supply chain architecture.

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