Transitioning a new product from concept to market is a long, complex process. Designs have to proceed through multiple stages, where they will be prototyped, tested, redesigned, and prepared for full-scale manufacturing. In each stage of the process, a new product will be slowly perfected until it is ready to be released to market. Functionality will be thoroughly evaluated against the desired user experience.
One aspect that is not always understood or explored during product research and design is the eventual transition to manufacturing. Companies that want to make this transition can try to coordinate the production process on their own, but a successful transition and execution requires working with an experienced EMS provider. Taking the right approach during prototyping and the transition to scale is an essential part of a go-to-market strategy, and it’s one area where companies need to work closely with their EMS provider.
Products Begin as Prototypes
Research and development progresses through several stages with the overall goal of achieving product-market fit by engineering the required functionality and user experience. Any new product will be developed after several rounds of market research, user research, development of proof-of-concept devices, and ultimately prototyping. This front-end process is instrumental in transforming a product concept into a set of real solutions. For electronic products, the progression from proof-of-concept to functional prototyping occurs in several iterations, where technical problems are identified and the product is fine-tuned to conform to the required user experience.
Before making the shift into a go-to-market strategy, there are some important steps that need to be completed as part of the research and design process. At a high level, product development progresses through a specific process
- Requirements gathering and functional specifications are defined based on market and user research
- Critical components in the BOM are selected with an eye towards ensuring functionality sustainable sourcing
- Front-end engineering begins, where electrical drawings, logic, and application architecture are created
- Physical layout begins, including PCB layout and mechanical design
- The design is reviewed and evaluated before prototyping
- Prototypes are produced and tested in the intended environment, often in multiple iterations
Throughout this process, innovative companies should begin researching their options for prototyping and full-scale production to ensure a seamless transition to commercialization. In today’s era of supply chain disruptions and shortened product lifecycles, companies can’t afford to attempt a transition to high volume production without considering sourcing and delivery of finished products to market. Your EMS provider should play a role in eliminating supply chain risk and easing the transition to volume production.
Transitioning to Production
Once a design is ready to transition into full-scale production, it’s time to consult with a contract manufacturer or EMS company to fabricate and assemble the product at the required volume. Making the transition successfully requires a change in mindset, which can result in a change to the product design and BOM. EMS providers have a different set of priorities and considerations that might be missed during the prototyping phase, but their responsibility is ultimately to produce at the required scale with high quality and yield.
- Supply chain - During the transition to high volume, your EMS provider should take steps to make your design more resilient to supply chain disruptions. This can involve identifying substitutions to at-risk components, modifying the BOM, and creating variants that can be produced with substitutes.
- Compliance - Designs that will be commercialized and produced at scale must be compliant with EMI/EMC regulations, which will require thorough emissions testing with a finalized prototype before the design can be produced at scale. The design should also comply with safety regulations in the target markets.
- Yield - Your EMS provider should evaluate the design against DFM/DFA requirements to ensure there will be few or no defects during production. The goal is to minimize rework and scrap that can add costs and extend lead times.
- Quality - Other tests will need to be performed to ensure product reliability, lifetime, and overall quality. Examples include stress tests in the envisioned environment, accelerated life tests, and mechanical strength tests.
- Testing - In addition to yield at the product’s physical level, many products have some embedded firmware or software application that must be thoroughly tested during production. Automated on-the-line testing is one tool used to ensure high throughput in electronics manufacturing.
In today’s hyper-competitive technology landscape, these functions are essential for getting a product to market on-schedule and on-budget. The right manufacturing partner can be an integral part of a go-to-market strategy by ensuring high quality, on-time delivery, and sustainable sourcing for new products.
Your EMS Partner Can Aid Commercialization
Preparing a design for commercialization requires working with an experienced EMS company. Prototype manufacturers can help you perfect a design, but they don’t always aid scaling to high volume as part of a go-to-market strategy. Instead, choose an EMS provider that can help transition a design into high volume production. Your EMS provider should act as an experienced innovation partner that can help transition a prototype design into full-scale production while ensuring quality, yield, and a resilient supply chain.
Getting a new product from the design stage and into full-scale production requires partnering with an experienced EMS provider that brings extensive design and engineering experience. PCI can help customers perfect their designs, coordinate sourcing and logistics, and manage sustainable production. We have more than 30 years of EMS experience focused in consumer goods, industrial, automotive, and medical devices, as well as in Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) and box builds. Our Lean Six Sigma manufacturing expertise enables us to customize our manufacturing line to meet our partners’ requirements.
If needed, we provide our customers the flexibility to quickly scale production as needs arise. We provide our partners with high-quality products at lower manufacturing costs thanks to our shorter change-over time and leaner material control. Contact PCI today to learn more about our capabilities.