Today’s OEM is tasked with meeting increased consumer demand for crafted appliance component options, from brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze cabinet hardware to copper refrigerator and oven handles. But for every unique OEM product, there are many time-to-market variables in play. Each product enhancement impacts delivery time and budget.
Can this feature be incorporated efficiently through a parts supplier or should it be designed to function a certain way by a metal part and assembly manufacturer? How much design work should the OEM undertake before showing the concept to a part manufacturer?
To help answer these questions, here are three considerations for OEMs when it comes to expediting product time to market.
Time management is the obvious and constant factor throughout the concept, design, manufacturing, and distribution of getting a product to market. Among the most pressing issues that impact the timeline for OEM products are:
- Tooling lead time
- Design and modification
- Raw material lead time
These issues can be expedited with a wider range of metal machining techniques that are not commonly available via an internal option or parts supplier. Full-service metal manufacturers have more in-house capability to combine multiple machining processes and work with advanced equipment not found at the OEM or in other shops.
A common OEM lead-time mistake is to put too much work into design concepts internally before engaging the supplier. They may devote too many resources to designing something that is prohibitively expensive to manufacture or fails to capture potential efficiencies. Or they may not leave enough time for design and design modifications early in the process, and mistakes early in the process can be costly in terms of lost time.
A full-service metal manufacturer can offer time-saving advantages in sourcing a variety of materials and can provide design insight on the latest trends, costs, and availability, especially if that material is new to the OEM.
Design and Modification
The best way to achieve maximum efficiencies for time to market with a new product or feature is to take as many factors into consideration as early as possible in the design process. These include, but are not limited to:
- Early engagement with a parts manufacturer
- Customer intent
- Viability for manufacturing
By gaining an early understanding of the product’s form, fit, and function, a full-service metal manufacturer can reduce product weight, manufacturing costs, and time to market. The OEM may seek a certain look or function, but knowing what is viable for manufacturing saves time at the front end of the project.
Prototypes and tooling can facilitate early design improvements and process parameters, which help with product quality control and minimize manufacturing risks. An early-and-often approach to customer involvement also will result in the optimum material selection and functionality.
Another common production mistake is to underestimate the capabilities and functionality of some materials, and limitations of others, especially for OEMs who have been using a parts supplier as opposed to a full-service metal manufacturer. Materials factor into time to market through:
- Shape and finish options
- Cost and availability
Raw material lead time can slow the time to market for OEM products, especially if the OEM wants to experiment with new materials or explore a more high-end finish with a material that might be difficult to source, such as titanium for an appliance handle.
A full-service metal manufacturer considers material for cost, availability, and metalforming purposes. They often can use creative machining, finishing, and assembly techniques to achieve interesting shapes and finishes without special material costs. For example, with the right machining and finishing, stainless steel, and even some aluminum options, can be cost-effectively formed to resemble brushed bronze or brass.
While almost any metal part can be made with enough money, knowing the costs of various materials can provide efficiencies from the start, especially with emerging trends in the consumer market. Time is also key to efficiency, which is why so many OEMs turn to a full-service metal manufacturer like Mills Products, who offer a full range of metalforming, finishing, assembly, and other value-adding options under one roof.
Learn how the in-house engineering and development team at Mills can expedite your OEM products time to market and help you cost-effectively achieve your project outcomes. If you have a metalforming project you’d like to get a quote for, please contact us today.