Implementing Product Lifecycle Intelligence Yields Benefits

Develop a new product category, hire an analyst firm to conduct some market research, and show how your new product provides benefits to customers. We see it in some “scientific” studies and also studies broadcast on TV advertisements. Here is one by a company called Makersite who touts their new approach called product lifecycle intelligence (PLI).

Makersite, a software company pioneering a new approach to sustainable product design and sourcing, released research conducted by Forrester Consulting, titled “Transform Product Sustainability into Performance Initiatives with Product Lifecycle Intelligence,” that reveals over half of organizations’ sustainability efforts are driven by regulations despite the benefits from adopting more sustainable product lifecycle intelligence (PLI).

Once again we are eliminating data silos. After more than 15 years of writing about products doing just that, I cannot believe it’s still a problem. It’s like the companies relying on complex Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to manage production. Oops, many still do that, too.

Currently, manufacturers struggle to translate compliance initiatives into making informed decisions during the product design phase due to outdated data systems and data silos. The study, commissioned by Makersite, shows that by implementing PLI to integrate data held within their systems, product engineers in the design phase can create products that are more sustainable (30%), have faster time-to-market (28%), and reap higher profits (26%). 

The 2024 study, which included insights from 493 respondents with product design and sourcing decision-makers in manufacturing, also pointed to several operational improvements including the ability to support product lifecycle decisions with better data quality (29%), improved visibility of materials and component supply chains (28%), and more efficient sustainability reporting (28%).

Engineers always have trouble translating their benefit calculations into language the C-suite understands—or even cares about.

Despite the benefits, however, respondents reported experiencing challenges while securing executive support for incorporating sustainability in PLI (53%), measuring and quantifying the environmental impact of their products (51%), and obtaining budget to gather material, component, and supplier intelligence integral to optimizing their product’s quality, cost, and sustainability (50%). These difficulties are a manifestation of poor maintenance of availability, cost, sustainability, and performance data in manufacturers’ material and component libraries – an issue for 49% of decision-makers.

For more insight into the impact of product lifecycle intelligence, download the full commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Makersite: “Transform Product Sustainability into Performance Initiatives with Product Lifecycle Intelligence.”

Fast-Charging EV Battery Technology Getting Near

Batteries have become the crucial constraint for many electrification advances. Especially for electric vehicles. I have an EV (Ioniq 6, which I recommend) with the main constraint centering on battery size and charging time. I’ve heard from a  Israeli company called StoreDot who is moving towards commercialization of an “extreme fast charging” battery technology. Following are highlights of its 2023.

  • This year saw it sign landmark agreements with strategic partners Volvo Cars, Polestar, VinFast and Flex|N|Gate
  • 2023 also saw 15 leading global OEMs test its cells for six to nine months verifying outstanding performance and proceeding to B-sample projects with several OEMs
  • StoreDot’s recent joint development project with Polestar yielded an announcement about the world’s first 10-minute EV charging demo for early 2024
  • StoreDot proved it offers the first and only solution to enable EV fast charging with high cycle life during consecutive fast charging, showing no degradation of performance due to fast charging
  • StoreDot expanded globally this year opening an innovation hub in California and appointed renowned automotive industry leader Carl-Peter Forster as its Chairman
  • StoreDot remains firmly on track for the mass production readiness of extreme fast charging ‘100in5’ battery cells in 2024

Doron Myersdorf, StoreDot CEO said:

“In 2023, StoreDot has not only achieved all of its planned milestones, but we have also made significant strides towards commercialization and mass production of our extreme fast charging battery cells. We proudly declare ourselves as the world’s leading company in XFC battery technologies, a title we’ve earned through our dedication to innovation and unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. We are the first and only company to enable extreme fast charging with high cycle life of consecutive fast charging. Our focus for 2024 is scale up and commercialization, and we remain on course to achieve mass production readiness of our ‘100in5’ cells next year. No other company is making as much progress in this sector as we are, and the EV world is about to witness the revolution we’re bringing to drivers’ charging experience.”

Through its ‘100inX’ product roadmap, StoreDot’s battery technology is delivering ‘Range on DemandTM’: 100 miles charged in 5 minutes in 2024, 100 miles charged in 4 minutes in 2026 and 100 miles charged in 3 minutes by 2028. StoreDot’s strategic investors and partners include BP, Daimler, VinFast, Volvo Cars, Polestar, Ola Electric, Samsung, TDK and its manufacturing partner EVE Energy. StoreDot is on target for mass production readiness of 100in5 technology by 2024.

You Can’t Inspect-in Quality

I took a position as quality assurance manager at a manufacturing plant early in my career. I had been doing product development and had turned down a quality manager position a couple of times. But, this was open and seemed like it could be good.

It took only a few days for me to discover W. Edwards Deming. 

I found myself battling:

  • The chief designer who specified the minimum specifications possible for materials;
  • The manufacturing engineer who bought tooling then washed his hands when they didn’t perform;
  • The purchasing manager who bought components and raw materials from the cheapest source;
  • The general manager who overrode me when products from his good friend failed to meet spec;
  • People on the shop floor who wanted to do a good job versus a system that confounded them.

I lasted a year, then I found a position elsewhere in product development and engineering.

These memories came flooding back to me when I read that the official Boeing response to yet more problems with the 737 Max program was to do more inspections.

Oh, for crying out loud! From what I’ve read, the source of the problems with the system and program management was the CEO’s office. The board needs to begin fixing things at the root. And then bring in someone strong in a power position to change the system. It doesn’t take a genius to see where shortcuts were taken along the line in order to get production (and sales) ramped up.

You don’t achieve quality from inspection. At that point, it is too late. Fix the system. Advice from 45 years ago.

Hexagon and JSOL Corporation Partner To Accelerate EV Powertrain Design

Some news about electric vehicle (EV) design from Hexagon.

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division and JSOL Corporation have entered a strategic partnership to accelerate the virtual prototyping of electrified powertrains through multi-physics simulation. The collaboration builds on a long-term technical alliance offering global customers accurate and high-productivity virtual prototyping of. complex electro-mechanical systems

The new strategic partnership will enable customers to combine Hexagon’s extensive engineering simulation software suite with JSOL Corporation’s JMAG electromagnetic field analysis software to solve a full spectrum of system design problems in the virtual world more quickly, thoroughly, and cost effectively than physical prototyping allows.

Mahesh Kailasam, general manager of design and engineering at Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, said: “As the move towards electrification accelerates, new challenges need to be addressed to improve vehicle performance characteristics, from the component to system level. For example, improvements to noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) performance now require simulation solutions to provide answers at much higher frequency ranges. Our partnership with JSOL solidifies our commitment to serve our existing and new customers in this rapidly evolving market.”

Takashi Yamada, chief technology officer at JMAG Business Company, said, “We are excited to work with Hexagon in this electrification journey. This partnership will now allow us to expedite electric vehicle NVH solution development between JMAG and Hexagon’s flagship products MSC Nastran and Adams, along with Romax and Actran.”

To stay ahead in the market, electromagnetic powertrains need to be very efficient and light, using new designs, materials, and manufacturing techniques. Hexagon and JSOL offer digital platforms and virtual environments for engineers to develop advanced electric powertrain technologies.

The partnership will advance several key areas to enhance their product design strategies for electric vehicles and enable more efficient and harmonious product development. A primary focus is to address NVH, enabling engineers to improve product comfort and reduce noise through innovative simulation-based design adjustments. Furthermore, by developing advanced simulations, the new solutions will inform robust and durable designs and make refinements to finalize products within space constraints. Another significant focus for the two companies is helping customers tackle the complexities of modern electro-mechanical machines, controls, and gearboxes with integrated solutions that foster collaboration between engineers from different disciplines.

Powersys, a global provider of design and engineering solutions for electrical vehicles and grid applications, will apply its expertise to help customers accelerate the implementation of these solutions. Olivier Toury, founder and president, Powersys, commented: “We are excited to build on our work with JMAG to offer our customers eNVH and virtual prototyping solutions with Hexagon’s portfolio. Using trusted simulations from Romax, Adams, Actran, or MSC Nastran with JMAG is helping customers make real progress towards zero prototyping for electric vehicles and we are getting busy with U.S. customers already.”

Hexagon provides extensive NVH computer-aided engineering (CAE) support from concept to final system validation and review through its Elements software for system modelling, Romax powertrain simulation, Actran acoustic simulation, Cradle CFD (computational fluid dynamics) air-structure simulation, ODYSEE AI (artificial intelligence) and optimisation platform, and physical simulation partnership with VI-GRADE.

Molex Reveals Global State of Reliability and Hardware Design Survey Results

The most noticeable trend at least from my perspective for 2023 concerns everyone doing surveys and issuing press releases. I guess you can do new products or applications, or you can do a survey. I took a grad school class on doing surveys. Then I became a (ahem) journalist and discovered what passes for surveys in journalism bears only a faint resemblance to what I learned in social science.

Be that as it may, Molex commissioned Dimensional Research to survey more than 750 qualified global participants with direct or managerial responsibility for hardware design or system architecture. The results should not surprise anyone. In brief:

  • More than half of the survey participants assert that reliability drives brand loyalty
  • Top reliability challenges include adequate time for testing, supplier quality, cost and correlation of product design attributes to their impact on reliability
  • 46% of respondents believe AI, ML, simulations and analytics are best bets to boost product reliability
  • 92% expect to lose reliability experts to retirement over the next five years

91% of the survey participants reported a strong correlation between their ability to deliver reliable products with having trusted, proven supplier relationships. To that end, 96% of the respondents have changed part suppliers due to reliability issues, with more than a quarter reporting frequent changes. Overall, these supplier relationships are becoming increasingly critical, as evidenced by 74% of respondents who believe reliability is at risk due to shortening design cycles.

Humanity-Centered Design

Human-centered design. Designing products as if humans were going to use them. Designing human-machine interface in ways that make it easier to see what’s going on.

It was 2009 and again in 2010. Emerson Global Users Exchange. Emerson Process Marketing Director Bill Morrison grabbed me (figuratively) to show and explain how Emerson was working with a university using Human-Centered Design for its products. And the benefits.

Emerson has talked to me more about HCD over the ensuing years than any other company. But I think many are adopting at least a little of the concept.

Today I listened to a recent Guy Kawasaki Remarkable People podcast interview with Don Norman. He called the episode Putting the User Back in User Interface. The wide-ranging interview, including time that both spent at Apple, took a dive into “Humanity-Centered Design”. This includes ideas from the Circular Economy where we design not just for the immediate use but also for life after the useful life of the product.

Don Norman: Putting the User Back in User Interface

This is the Remarkable People podcast. We’re on a mission to make you remarkable. Today, we’ll discuss the life and work of Don Norman, professor and the founding director of the Design Lab at the University of California of San Diego.

He has a diverse range of history, including a university professor, Apple executive, company advisor, author, speaker, and curmudgeon; Don has contributed to many fields, including electrical engineering, psychology, computer science, cognitive science, and design.

And for a time, he was my boss at Apple when I was an Apple fellow. I’m surprised he doesn’t introduce himself that way.

Don is the author of one of the most influential books on design and usability called The Design of Everyday Things. He has a new book called Design for a Better World: How to Create a Meaningful, Sustainable, and Humanity-Centered Future.

Here’s a bonus episode. Kawasaki interviews Carol Dweck. If you have not read Mindset, get it and read it now. And pass it on to many others.

Carol Dweck: The Mother of the Growth Mindset Tells All

Welcome to Remarkable People. We’re on a mission to make you remarkable. Helping me in this episode is one of my idol’s, Carol Dweck,

Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, is one of two most important influences in my life.

Carol is a professor of psychology at Stanford University.Her work spans developmental psychology, social psychology, and personality psychology, focusing on self-conceptions and their impact on behavior, motivation, achievement, and interpersonal dynamics.

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