Collaborative and Extensive R&D

Smoothly and consistently integrate the numerous players in development and design in order to gain in innovation and efficiency

The major challenges in collaborative development and design are to control and improve the quality/cost/time triangle and to integrate innovations.

Context and challenges

R&D and Engineering alone can no longer guarantee the level of performance necessary to remain competitive.

The control of development standards and logics (as well as research or design standards and logics) for the incorporation of new stakeholders and synchronization of business lines is becoming a major prerequisite and an essential support for any structured collaboration.

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However, development standards and processes are very often the product of the company's history, with a lack of coherence between business lines or a very general level of formalization.

To enable successful collaboration between those involved in development and design, the following areas must be developed:

  • Central Engineering, to clarify and coordinate the expectations of each business line at the various development milestones, and cascade these expectations to operations, including instructions related to design rules
  • Programming, to build coherent development logics, know the technical validation milestones of the project, and cascade the processes in planning with the help of the business lines
  • Programming, R&D, and Procurement, to integrate ideas, innovations, and the capacities of partners and suppliers, in a relevant and fluid manner, from the Architecture phase onwards, to clarify the stated specifications and the degree of interference between the order-giver and partners
  • Central Engineering, Manufacturing, Production, and Suppliers, to integrate the constraints of production and maintenance decisions into the design phase, perform rapid prototyping and reduce the evolutions (and their processing time) by clarifying the product data, their structures, configurations, and methods of transferring or amending data throughout the product’s life cycle
  • Procurement, Quality and Methods, Continuous Improvement, and HR, to achieve a shared, validated standard on which to base activities.

The success of this initiative depends on four fundamental aspects:

  • Synchronizing stakeholders’ targets and activities:

It is essential to synchronize the expectations of different business lines with one another and with the expectations for the development logic of the product to be made, subject to obtaining individually optimized modes of operation, but without any possible integration of sub-sets or functions.

  • Implementing real, on-the-ground practices:

An effective approach, cascaded to operational staff, based on their activities (instructions, design rules, practices to formalize, cascading of possible planning) and shared/validated with them.

  • Not standardizing everything:

Partial, or the right level of, standardization for large groups. Given the potentially wide range of products, business lines, and ad hoc regulations, seeking out a standard does not make sense.

  • Collaborating to share benefits:

It is essential to allow suppliers and partners to share some of the benefits of a joint improvement in competition, to guarantee their acceptance and the adoption (or continuity) of the collaborative approach.

How can Argon Consulting help you?

  • Formalization, improvement, and on-the-ground application of a shared development standard, particularly as part of an organizational transformation (merger, creation of Greenfields, centralization of Design Office, setting up a Central Engineering Department, etc.), an initial approach to improving competitive advantage or as part of the upcoming implementation of software to support activities
  • Concurrent engineering, to obtain the products and services, taking into account the constraints of industrialization, production, and service as early as possible in the development process, clarifying the role of the person responsible for defining the product and cutting costs and lead times
  • Co-design with suppliers, to review the role of suppliers in the value chain, innovations in the initial phase, and interactions to be implemented (including for developments with a large share of outsourced research)
  • Innovation and Research Process: implementation of process management, through Technology and Manufacturing Readiness Levels (TRL and MRL), and research projects led by relevant stakeholders in the initial phases of collaborative innovation
  • Implementation of Set-Based Concurrent Engineering, and the improvement of trade-off practices and product and system development models and practices.

Case Studies

Deployment of a standard design-to-cost approach in an international group
Management and acceleration of an innovation program
Comprehensive restructuring of R&D processes – skills transfer