Operations & Supply Chain Management, when and why it’s needed?

Are you going to run your first product program, but you do not have Operations & Supply Chain Management(SCM) functions inhouse? 

Have you done products before, but still you may notice that your new product is not ready for mass production, quality is poor, production lines are not running, costs are more than your planned budget and schedule has been delayed? 

If yes, continue reading! 


“ We have a great product idea, now we´re going to make first prototypes and then let´s go to the mass production” 

“How hard can it be!?” 

This is pretty common part of discussion when we are talking about device development projects. 

Well, on paper it can be very straight forward, but in practice, it’s something totally different and we must pay attention to many things before mass production lines are running.  

But, before mass production, what should we consider in the beginning of product development journey, even before any  prototypes are produced? 

Let’s assume that some “basic” work is already done, the business case is real, the main requirements mainly agreed, there is an idea about hardware content, architecture, as well as software related tasks are more or less know. 

Project can start, or is there still something else which might be missing..? 

Should you think of operational topics like materials, supply chains, manufacturing, after sales and life cycle development? 

In my experience YES, at least the first three topics. It is a matter of balancing with priorities, but focusing on these can manage costs and help avoiding severe issues with schedule and quality. 

Too often Operations & Supply Chain Management has been involved totally too late! 


Now, let’s open those mentioned  three areas a little bit and list some potential main concerns:


Materials: Bill of Material(BOM) might be 60-80% from the total factory cost, so material selections are very important, how to do that? 

Needed technologies must be considered carefully and key component availability etc. to be confirmed, how to ensure that?  

BOM and factory price estimates needed for budget calculations, how to get that?                   


Supply Chain: How to get right materials into the right place in right time, which suppliers needed and where? 

Maybe existing supplier network cannot provide all needed parts and technologies, what to do? 

Product specific custom materials, how to run development steps and  component level tests/approvals? 


Proto Manufacturing: How to make this product, what  manufacturing phases and technologies, maybe expensive investments needed? 

How about quality targets, what production / R&D level testing  needed and how to manage tooling? 

Proto build plan, this must be exactly in line with overall R&D plan, how to do that? 


As we see, we quickly found a lot of open questions before any devices are even done. 


In the end, this is just a part of R&D work, it will take some time, but after that it is much more easier to run project and get  first hot protos for testing in planned schedule. 

If you now feel that this is something which is not considered in your coming / ongoing project, we can help you here at UnSeen Technologies. 

We have a lot of experience and we are working with these topics every day.  


Next time I could go through Operations & SCM role in proto manufacturing,