Technology moves fast, and manufacturers must become equally efficient to keep up. As businesses look for new ways to maximize agility while maintaining product quality, some are taking inspiration from the software industry. The growing shift to agile product development comes from this trend.
The agile framework has become the unofficial standard in software development. Despite this origin, short, rapid, highly collaborative cycles and continuous development fit the manufacturing process perfectly. As more manufacturers catch on to these benefits, it’ll reshape the industry’s future.
Benefits of Agile Product Development
The primary benefit of agile product development is that it delivers the highest-possible-quality product in the least amount of time. Electronics can take nine months or longer from ideation to getting into consumers’ hands with conventional processes. That’s far too slow, especially considering tweaks may be necessary after customer feedback.
Agile transforms development from a linear method to a series of one-to-four-week cycles. Teams can quickly create an early product version through rapid prototyping and cross-team collaboration. This version will need feedback and adjustment, but that’s part of the cycle. Each sprint is an iteration. This makes the overall timeline from ideation to the highest-quality product significantly shorter.
Agile frameworks produce better end products because they integrate feedback and collaboration earlier. Getting multiple opinions before weeks and millions of dollars go by means teams can work out large issues earlier. Creating the most functional product will be easier because each adjustment will be less disruptive and more collaborative.
Agile product development is also more flexible. It allows manufacturers to produce and adjust iterations faster. This makes them better suited to adapt to any disruptions or demand shifts in the market. There were over 11,000 supply chain disruptions in 2021 alone. This increased disruption encourages more businesses to adapt, which will drive the popularity of agile development.
How CAD and Agile Production Work Together
Embracing a new production method means switching to tools that enable it. Computer-aided design (CAD) is one of the most important in supporting these rapid iteration cycles.
CAD enables tighter machining tolerances and high repeatability, ideal for agile development’s cyclical nature. Each iteration is less likely to feature machine errors and minor adjustments won’t affect the speed or accuracy of the process. These benefits enable a more effective product refinement cycle with each iteration.
CAD and agile production also work together nicely because of CAD’s automated features. In its least automated form, CAD streamlines design phases by automating minor tasks and making suggestions. At its most extreme, it can automate the design and machining process almost in its entirety.
As a result, CAD is highly efficient and minimizes human error. That’s good for any manufacturing process, considering quality issues cost 15 to 20% of sales revenue in most companies. It’s even more important in agile product development, where new product versions are frequent and development times are short.
Agile Product Development Is Reshaping Manufacturing
Demands are rising for manufacturers to produce better products in less time. Meeting those standards is challenging at best with conventional methods. CAD and agile production offer a better way forward.
As disruptions continue to rise more manufacturers will embrace the agile framework and its supporting technologies. CAD and agile product development will become standard before long.