A key component in the world of contract electronics manufacturing is the New Product Introduction process. There are a number of factors to consider while looking for an electronics contract manufacturer (ECM) that can consistently provide high-quality products, and how they implement NPI is one of them.
New Product Introduction can make or break an idea in today’s competitive tech industry. NPI covers the entire process of creating, refining, and launching a new product, requiring significant financial resources and work to complete. On average, the whole plan takes about two years and occupies a quarter of a firm’s personnel.
But even with vast financial and time investments, NPI often fails to meet expectations, with a success rate of only 56%. Failed products are often the result of poor product design and development efforts.
To avoid costly trial and error, here’s what to know about NPI and the benefits of doing a thorough job.
What Is New Product Introduction?
New Product Introduction is the process of defining, developing, and launching a new or upgraded device. The objective is to get one initial prototype to function under ideal circumstances.
The design phase puts emphasis on the product itself rather than the manufacturing method. Design engineers collaborate to develop product ideas until the best design solution emerges. After that, it’s time for the NPI program to take over. Engineers create iterations until a final, fully functional prototype is created.
Having a contract manufacturer on board is immensely beneficial for every stage in the NPI process. Many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) partner up with an electronics manufacturing service (EMS) early in a new product’s lifecycle to get to market faster and decrease redesign costs.
Here are the NPI process steps, and how EMS can make a difference:
Define and outline your goal by answering a simple yet difficult question — what are you trying to make? Close collaboration with your team is important when discussing the design and engineering of the device.
Manufacturing should also be included as part of your entire risk management evaluation. An EMS partner can provide you with material alternatives based on your specs and design — and you can get it from top materials suppliers.
Now is the time to ask yourself: Is this a feasible option, and does it make financial sense for my business?
After you pass that, you’ll start planning the transition from development to electronic manufacturing with your EMS partner. They can provide you with recommendations for custom printing and perform a conversion procedure test for efficiency.
Now it’s time for the refinement stage. Use high-quality, functioning prototypes — or several variants in a single run — to expedite testing and save costs.
Develop a methodology that satisfies both internal quality assurance and compliance needs.
Where is the room for improvement? Evaluate and enhance your prototype until you achieve desired results. After that comes the validation of the manufacturing process. It is a test to ensure that the final manufacturing plan is efficient.
Scaling up and releasing your device to the market can be tricky. The best way to go is to set up the pilot launch and fine-tune the procedures before starting mass production.
In this stage, what really matters is precision of all manufacturing processes.
After all of that is done, it’s important to evaluate the level of market success — what might you and your EMS partner have done differently to make it even better in the future?
Examine the performance of the production process and continuously look for possibilities for improvement.
It’s also essential to document the process in detail so you can maintain consistency and achieve regulatory compliance.
As a final step, respond to customer feedback. Their needs will be invaluable to you as a constant source for areas of improvement.
Benefits of New Product Introduction
You can benefit a lot from the right NPI program. Here are some of key ways NPI helps your business:
1. Improved Product Quality
Prior to beginning the production process, manufacturers may determine the quality of the product. You can get the highest quality solutions if you include one extra step in the design stage — Design for Quality.
2. A Better Understanding of Target Audience
The NPI methodology helps you meet client demands in a more effective manner. Issues are addressed at the design stage, before they become causes of production faults later on. Better product quality and dependability are important metrics for customer satisfaction.
Concentrating on the demands and expectations of customers as well as product innovation will result in greater market acceptance.
3. Reduced Development Costs
The design phase starts with carefully considering each specification of the product throughout the early design stage in order to minimize delays and redesign expenses. The best way to stay cost-effective is to take into account any possible issues that may arise during the manufacturing and assembly stage while you’re still at the beginning of your design phase.
4. Quicker Time to Market
Dealing with a highly competitive environment isn’t an easy task. Manufacturers must speed up their product development cycle timelines in order to produce devices more quickly and fulfill clients’ demands. Since NPI helps teams meet deadlines, it also gets products out to market faster.
5. Leads to Success
Optimizing a product in the design stage before it goes to production often means the difference between success and defeat. Product design is the main component that most affects the cost, quality, and duration of the development process, and NPI helps to control all three.
Working With an Electronics Manufacturing Partner for NPI
Having a seasoned EMS provider to work alongside you during the New Product Introduction process means you will have a team of professionals who will take ownership of the whole manufacturing process. Doing so will help increase production rates, lower costs, and increase process efficiency.
It’s essential to collaborate during an NPI program with those who are best at it. Make sure you partner with a reliable and communicative EMS company.
If you’re not sure what exactly to look for in an EMS partner, do thorough research and be sure to make the best decision for your business.