How It Works: Design, Pilot, Ramp, Sustain

How It Work: Design, Pilot, Ramp, Sustain | Precision Concepts Group

In many industries, there’s a missing link in the supply chain. In the manufacturing space, there are companies that specialize in just a single area of the supply chain. Some companies offer design services. Others might take the prototyping jobs, while others would manage the actual production.

However, since very few companies can cover every link in the chain at once, it often creates a lot of extra steps for a business that just wants to take their product to market.

They’d have to go with a design source for their designs and possibly a prototype. Then they’d need to take that prototype and put it out for a bid for manufacturing. Things only get more complicated when they want to transfer their manufacturing line to another location, which may or may not even have the ability to make all the necessary components.

At Precision Concepts, though, we can take a product from the very earliest stages in the design process all the way through full manufacturing and ongoing production.

We start with the design and move on to prototyping and testing – all the while looking into potential commercialization aspects. From there we roll smoothly into the ramp phase, getting your product onto the market and producing at the most cost-effective levels.

Then, when the product hits the top of its curve, we will move into the sustain phase and find new ways to stay competitive by improving process management, quality, and supply chain management.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these phases.

Design

At Precision Concepts, we get involved with a project as early as possible. The process is relatively simple. The client will send us something – a concept, a sketch, an old product that needs updating, a list of cost goals and functionality requirements. Sometimes, they have designs that are very nearly complete and just require a few adjustments, based on the manufacturing processes we use.

We’ll then evaluate everything they give us and determine whether this is something we can do or not.

This is also where our engineers and designers can begin to develop components or subsystems to ensure that the manufacturing processes will go more smoothly.

The next step is to create a few concepts and iterate on them with the client.

This process is critical, and as we design we can also run simulations – even before prototyping – to make sure that the design is robust enough to meet all the necessary requirements.

This kind of finite element analysis, combined with experienced engineers who understand our own manufacturing processes, ensures a higher quality and faster turnaround.

Pilot

The pilot phase comes after all the relevant analyses have been completed and we’ve settled on a design that meets all the functional requirements.

At Precision Concepts, we have a full and complete tool shop and quality system to ensure that we can deliver prototypes that are a good representation of the final product. This is important because it will also help us understand what changes may need to happen.

Here’s the difference between us and other companies, though:

We have separate groups that works on product development and production.

Everything that we use to manufacture marketable products we also use to design and produce a prototype. This may include injection molding, stamping, plating, and many other services. However, by separating production and prototyping – and making sure everyone has access to the tools and services they need – we can speed the entire process and make sure you get a high-quality prototype.

The pilot stage may also include making assemblies, doing small runs of a complete assembled products, or making a special prototype that is more representative of the production environment.

We can develop the fixtures, build models and prototypes, and take care of the qualifications. We’ll make the parts, do the analysis, and make sure the finite element analysis matches the qualifications.

Ramp

The ramp phase can be divided into five important elements.

  • Documentation – This is how we establish the methodology for the production phase. We will document exactly how a product is going to be manufactured, how tools should be used, how the tools and press will operate together, and how to inspect the part when it’s done.
  • Training – As we move from the pilot phase with the engineers to the ramp phase with the operators, we make sure everyone is fully trained and has the necessary set of skills.
  • Validation – We need to know that we can produce high-quality parts on a consistent basis. To that end, we will establish protocols and methodologies to inspect the parts, capture data, and show that everything is built and measured the same.
  • Planning – Once all these elements are in place, we will begin buying enough material to launch into full production. The planning phase will help us prepare a pipeline of materials and make sure we have qualified suppliers lined up to minimize potential risks.
  • Scalability – This is where we move from producing hundreds of products a month to tens of thousands a month. We will establish manufacturing lines, build the necessary tools, and even build duplicate equipment so we always have a backup.

Sustain

You’ve got your product out into the wild and it’s doing well. Eventually, though, all products reach that saturation point – a plateau – when the margins aren’t quite as good, or the competition is getting more intense.

This is when we find ways to improve our processes and make sure that your production remains profitable. We start finding opportunities for vertical integration, which allows us to grow organically and adapt to the changing needs of our clients.

We use Six Sigma techniques to continuously elevate production and look for improvement areas. We can also start looking for changes that can be made throughout the entire supply chain. This might include looking at new suppliers, adjusting minimum order prices, and potentially finding new partnerships.

At Precision Concepts, we work to stay ahead of the game and minimize the risk of interruptions from “end of life” products. We keep an eye on the trends and know where things are going so we always have additional paths to continue production.

One of the biggest potential changes at this stage, though, is the possibility of relocating the manufacturing lines to our facility in Costa Rica.

While we often take care of the first three stages – design, pilot, and ramp – at our facilities in North Carolina, we often find that the low costs of manufacturing in Costa Rica make it a great option for many companies.

Dedicated Management at Every Stage

Our experienced managers guide the entire process, using a more logical approach to management.

Starting with a kickoff meeting, we will get your expectations and make sure they’re aligned with our processes. We’ll set deadlines, budgets, and you can get to know your manager, who will act as your single point of contact.

From there, we’ll set up a plan of action, which will include weekly conference calls to discuss any issues, items, questions, or concerns. We can even set up some onsite meetings (at your site or ours) if the situation calls for it.

There doesn’t have to be a missing link in your supply chain. At Precision Concept, we can take your project from the earliest stages of design to the fully optimized production process.