Strategic Program Key Points – Our Guide to a Successful 3D Data Transition
In Part II of our roadmap conversation Rhiannon, Jennifer, and Duane talk about the challenge of bringing 3D data to the supply chain.
How does the roadmap relate to the supply chain?
Jennifer: There is a huge groundswell of wanting to do this with the supply chain so that the big companies can make it easier for the little companies. But what’s already there and established is a lack of trust between the supplier and the OEM. This has already been established because they struggle with the current data constantly, so there’s no trust to build on in that relationship. What ends up happening, what we’ve seen over the years, is these companies go about things the wrong way. They say, ” We’ll just give them STEP files and then the supplier will be perfectly happy,” but they’re not really getting at the root cause pain point – which is about collaboration, and the fact that suppliers don’t trust that they will ever get good data. So, they have to re-master the data, they have to ask a bunch of questions, and they have to up-charge everybody for all that work. Ideally, they should be able to say “Okay, you’re going to give me good data, we’re good to go. I’ll give it to you at a good price.” If they got good data, everything would be of higher quality and ultimately cost less.
Rhiannon: Yeah. One of my favorite sessions ever was the one where we were doing a readiness assessment phase. That particular group brought in a key supplier to be part of the sessions and they were worried about how the supplier was going to handle 3D data. The supplier representative said, “We’ve been taking all your 2D drawings and turning them into models anyway so we’re fine with this.” The client had no idea because they never asked.
Jennifer: They never ask. Stop not asking.
Rhiannon: It’s part of why the supplier readiness survey is pretty early in the roadmap, in the SET phase. You need a good sense of what your whole ecosystem looks like. Just because you are not giving your supplier models does not mean that every other OEM they work with is not giving them models, so you do not know what they are capable of until you ask them. Do not underestimate them.
The supplier representative said, “We’ve been taking all your 2D drawings and turning them into models anyway so we’re fine with this.” The client had no idea because they never asked.
What do you think is getting in the way of people asking the suppliers?
Rhiannon: I think there’s a little bit of a competitive threat going on. What if I as a big OEM turn to my supplier and say, “And now I am giving you models,” and the supplier says, “Yeah, we’re on top of that because we’ve had it for years from your competitor.” How does that look?
Jennifer: Well, OEMs forget their suppliers have other customers. So OEM Company A writes its own Technical Data Package (TDP) Standard and author their data, most often in a CAD-specific way. Then they expect the supplier to understand their TDP Standard and operate collaboratively with them. Now enter Company B which gives them their TDP Standard, which now becomes flavor B for the supplier. Most suppliers work for many companies, so then there is a flavor C TDP Standard, and so on. Now the supplier is juggling different CAD systems, different looking data, different interoperability challenges, and now the digital solutions drive-up cost, rather than reduce it. Everyone is in a pickle.
People aren’t used to cross-functional conversations. The people in procurement who interact with your suppliers are aware of what their suppliers can and cannot handle.
Rhiannon: That’s the equivalent of, “I know you have this car that works, but we’re going to make you drive our car with British steering. But just for our stuff, and you can get back into your normal car for all your other customers and that won’t be weird at all.” What could go wrong?
People aren’t used to cross-functional conversations. The people in procurement who interact with your suppliers are aware of what their suppliers can and cannot handle. The best supplier success we have had is in organizations where we brought the procurement people in early on, and they could provide insights for the complete set of pilot phase iterations. Do not underestimate your procurement people either. It goes back to what Duane was saying about trust, it is all about bringing in people at earlier stages than you have before so that they are giving insights on the process from your early iterations.
Did you miss reading The Roadmap Part I: Iterate Already? Read it now.