The State of Product Development & Hardware Design 2019

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The State of Product Development & Hardware Design 2019 What today’s engineers and executives think they’re doing best – and their top priorities for improvement

Contents Survey Overview

page 03

Priorities for Improvement

page 06

Innovation vs. Productivity

page 07

Product Development Survey Insights

page 09

Companies Seek to Improve Design Process Over Design Tools

page 09

How Innovative Companies View Cloud Productivity Tools

page 12

Data Management: Benefits vs. Drawbacks of PDM/PLM

page 15

What Product Development Teams Want to Improve in 2019

page 18

Conclusion

page 23

Survey Overview

To better understand the current State of Product Development & Hardware Design, we analyzed the survey responses of

850 Survey Overview

product design and manufacturing professionals

with the following job roles:

Designer / Engineer Engineering Manager / Team Lead

The most successful companies are usually the ones that never rest. They are always striving to get better, to deliver more innovative products and get them to market faster. So what do today’s product development teams think they’re doing right, and what areas do they consider to be ripe for improvement? Whether they are launching a brand new product or manufacturing an improved version of an existing one, what are companies identifying as their top priorities to boost productivity? What obstacles are slowing them down and what can be done to eliminate or reduce those obstacles?

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

Executives Other

22%

13%

Engineering Manager Team Lead

Executives

Project Manager CAD Administrator Trainer Quality Assurance Draftsman Sales Technical Engineer Simulation Engineer

10% Other

55% Designer / Engineer

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Survey Overview

Although industrial designers and engineers are most often associated with the product development process, this industry survey aimed to capture a broader company-wide perspective beyond the core design team. These respondents are representative of companies using the most widely adopted professional design and manufacturing tools.

You don’t need an army to launch a new product. Of the companies we heard from, the most common size for a product development team was 3-10 employees.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES INVOLVED IN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

15%

1-2

45% 21% 20%

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

3-10 11-50 51+

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Survey Overview

What Percent of Companies Develop Products in Multiple Locations?

Now that we know a little more about the kind of companies participating in this survey, let’s take a deeper look at how they view themselves and their current product development processes...

It is becoming far less common for design and manufacturing teams to all be working under the same roof.

HOW MANY LOCATIONS ARE INVOLVED IN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT?

72% 20%

of large companies are multi-site

39% of small / medium companies are multi-site

TWO

12%

THREE

45% 23%

ONE

FOUR OR MORE

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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Priorities for Improvement Question: Improving which stage of your product development process would yield the biggest benefit?

2

• Early Stages: Conceptual Design

earliest stages of the design project

6% • Mid-to-Late Stage • Pre-Production

36% 31%

• Early Stages: Prototyping

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

3

companies want to change the

27%

• Post-Production

out of

This finding may not come as a surprise as the earliest stages of design, before considerable investments are made in manufacturing tooling, are also the easiest and most flexible times to make changes.

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Innovation vs. Productivity Question: How would you rate your company in terms of driving innovation in your product development process?

Question: How would you rate the productivity of the product development process at your company?

SELF-REPORTED INNOVATION VERY POOR

SELF-REPORTED PRODUCTIVITY

2%

1% VERY POOR

POOR

11%

10% POOR

AVERAGE

29%

41% AVERAGE

GOOD

41% 20%

EXCELLENT

17%

10%

30% 50%

of respondents rate their company’s innovation level as good or excellent.

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

40% GOOD 20% 30%

40%

Does not resting on past success and exploring new tools, technologies and processes result in greater efficiency and productivity?

58%

10%

40%

49%

50%

9% EXCELLENT

of respondents rate their company’s productivity level as good or excellent.

  • Percentages are rounded up for decimals over .50 7

Innovation vs. Productivity In short, we found that Innovation = Productivity. Note that both the innovation and productivity questions are

92%

based on employee feelings versus quantifiable metrics. These questions aim to measure the companies’ self-perceptions of success, although they do not attempt to measure employee morale. For example, a lazy employee presumably would be happier working at a low-productivity company! But what about the more ambitious professionals?

of “excellent” innovation companies rate themselves as “very good” or “excellent” at productivity

Similarly, less than

Do the engineers and executives who try new approaches to old

10%

problems also find themselves to be more productive as well? How does self-reported innovation correlate with self-reported productivity?

of “very poor” or “poor” innovation companies rate themselves as “very good” or “excellent” at productivity. 10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

So what are these high-innovation and high-productivity companies doing differently than those with less favorable self-assessments? THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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1

Survey Insight #1

Companies view their design processes as more important to improve than their CAD tools, usage of additive manufacturing, or usage of generative design. We asked product development professionals to identify the most important areas of improvement to boost productivity.

Survey Insight #1 Companies view their design processes as more important to improve than their CAD tools, usage of additive manufacturing, or usage of generative design.

For managers and executives at larger companies, the #1 thing to improve is:

The ability to monitor the product design team’s progress anytime without having meetings, sending emails, or making phone calls.

89

%

of companies say they want/need this.

As in other industries, executives at manufacturing companies want real-time information and actionable data.

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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Survey Insight #1 Companies view their design processes as more important to improve than their CAD tools, usage of additive manufacturing, or usage of generative design.

89

For individual contributors at larger companies, the top 2 things to improve are Communication and Version Control.

% Say they want earlier and better communication between extended design team This could be miscommunication or not enough communication between internal teams or with external partners – or even missed opportunities to get design feedback from contributors who could have game-changing ideas.

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

86

%

Say they need to reduce errors resulting from working on the wrong version of a design or receiving important information too late These are preventable data management issues that result in costly manufacturing mistakes, and ultimately, a slower time to market.

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2

Survey Insight #2

Most companies that consider themselves as “innovative” have embraced cloud-based productivity tools.

Survey Insight #2 Most companies that consider themselves as “innovative” have embraced cloud-based productivity tools

Question:

%

Does your company use a cloud file-sharing service?

Nearly 4 out of 5 companies that rate themselves as “excellent” for innovation use one or more public cloud file-sharing services. The top two responses were Google Drive and Dropbox, followed by Microsoft OneDrive. In contrast, for respondents that rate their company as “poor/very poor” for innovation, the top response was “No cloud sharing service.”

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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Survey Insight #2

Question: Does your company use a

Most companies that consider themselves as “innovative” have embraced cloud-based productivity tools

Product Data Management (PDM) and/or a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system? (Select all that apply.)

Installed Server-Based

YES

43%

Cloud-Based

15%

NO

46% We Use Neither

75 2X

%

of companies using a cloud-based PDM/PLM solution rate their ability to drive innovation as “good” or “excellent.”

Companies that use cloud PDM/PLM are twice as likely to rate their ability to drive innovation as “excellent” than those who use installed PDM/PLM.

These findings were consistent with a similar 2018 Engineering.com product development survey, which concluded that teams using cloud-based systems were far “more successful at meeting goals than users who used on-site server-based systems or less formal systems such as email/spreadsheets.”

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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3

Survey Insight #3

Most companies using PDM/PLM systems credit them for preventing costly mistakes, but also say they create a whole new set of problems.

Survey Insight #3

Question:

Most companies using PDM/PLM systems credit them for preventing costly mistakes, but also say they create a whole new set of problems

If you use PDM/PLM, how much do you agree with the following statements?

PDM/PLM helps avoid costly mistakes.

19%

3%

15%

Strongly Agree

63%

Disagree

So while a total of

Strongly Disagree

82% of PDM users agree that

There has to be a better way.

18%

4%

Agree

PDM/PLM systems are preventing significant data management errors,

Strongly Agree

24%

54% Disagree

Agree

72% of those same PDM users wish there were a better solution.

Strongly Disagree

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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Survey Insight #3 Most companies using PDM/ PLM systems credit them for preventing costly mistakes,but also say they create a whole set of problems

WHY?

45 42 %

% Say PDM/PLM also slows down the design process

Say PDM/PLM also blocks access to their design data when they need it

Both of these statistics reflect frustration with the fact that PDM/PLM systems require users to check in and check out files to keep track of the latest design version. While a design file is checked out by an individual, no one else on the team can change the contents of that file until it is checked back into the system. While this reduces the version control problem, it also prevents team members from working in parallel and accessing critical up-to-date information. This often results in slowing down the overall design process.

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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What Product Development Teams Want to Improve in 2019 Recognizing that the design challenges of every company cannot be fully captured by multiple-choice questions, the end of the Product Development Survey asked the following open-ended question:

“In your own words, what aspect of your company’s product development process most needs improvement?” The hundreds of survey responses are summarized in the Word Cloud on the right.

projects

tracking drawing Initial processes

review market

make engineering concepts good access different needs integration testing customers

tools development conceptual

manufacturing

sharing

prototyping

time software designs CAD production stage getting

PLM 2

file

design useEarly team data

clear cost stages

phase

work

large change right

R

easy

product projectrequirements

speed Less prototypes information version Better simulation control get

system 3D PDM

one Revision

part

organization

new

managementway products changes designers

able

need

collaboration faster

ability

clients every

documentation

without customer Onshape

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

multiple Prototype also parts drawings

Communication company

concept process now

models D

think quickly feedback

transfer

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What Product Development Teams Want to Improve in 2019

Note that while improving CAD tools themselves is viewed as important, mentions of “communication, PDM, PLM, management, design, production, time, tools, early, data, and process” together vastly overshadow references to CAD or other design tools.

In short, consistent with Survey Insight

#1, improving the design process itself is recognized as the key to improving productivity. Here are some sample open-ended responses broken down by category.

WASTED TIME

“We need to minimize our lead time and our time spent on tasks not directly related to deliverables.”

“Our designers spend too much time with paperwork, rather than actually designing.”

“We’d like to have more of our workflow automated, removing human error and speeding up non-design-related tasks.”

“Let’s give the power, agility and fun back to the designers! Today, designers spend only a fraction of their time on value-added design and innovation due to the heavy burden of PLM and administrative processes. It’s almost like industrial sabotage.”

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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What Product Development Teams Want to Improve in 2019 PROTOTYPING

“The team needs to be more comfortable prototyping lots of rough ideas and testing. Too often we don’t explore enough before settling on a direction.”

“We need to find a more economical way of proving a concept before we get far enough into development that the project has become too big to fail.”

“We’d like to improve our ability to iterate and tweak product designs during the prototyping phase. We generally have multiple design concepts at the end of that process deriving from one idea. Having a way to combine these drafts into a final design would speed up our process considerably.”

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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What Product Development Teams Want to Improve in 2019 COMMUNICATION / COLLABORATION

“We need to improve communication between sales and engineering.”

“We’d like different levels of CAD access for project developers, signaling changes in the model to each developer according to their specialization.”

“More seamless integration of mechanical CAD, electrical CAD, and project management/objectives. Communicating through conference calls, emails and weekly review meetings is very slow and inefficient.”

“Better Integration and collaboration between the design and manufacturing teams is needed. Our design teams typically do not engage with manufacturing teams at all until it’s way too late.”

“We need to make product design easy to communicate with customers (non-CAD users, no technical background). It is a customer-driven market. No matter how much effort we put into design, it needs to be approved by the customer.”

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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What Product Development Teams Want to Improve in 2019 DATA MANAGEMENT

“We need less time spent on “Would be great to have one source of truth and be able to access all information as and when needed

managing data and more time on design.”

instead of needing to search for it in multiple places.”

“If PDM were easier to use, then perhaps everyone at “We need clear structure and to keep better

the company could use it. But now it’s a huge pain to

track of frequent design changes. We need to

use and none of our non-engineers can participate.”

somehow be able to keep R&D product design work separate from released product work.” “We purchased a PDM package, but were never able to implement it. The setup was too burdensome.”

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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Conclusion Two out of three companies responding to this survey indicated that it is most important to improve the earliest stages of their product design process – both for the conceptual design and prototyping phases. This makes sense because more iterations and design risks lead to more innovative prototypes, and ultimately better products. Also, the more in-team and extended team feedback and constructive input that design teams get, the more likely it is for innovation to happen. Because it is far easier to change paths or undo mistakes in the design stage – well before committing to manufacturing – the most impactful opportunities for process improvements are here, too. However, in many cases, companies are finding that timely project information is not easily shared with key contributors inside and outside the engineering team.

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

The majority of survey respondents identified the following as priorities for improvement:

1 The ability for the team to try and compare alternatives early in the design process

2 Contributors always having access to the tools and data they need to do their job

3 Earlier and better communication, visibility, and clarity for all members of the extended team in the design process

4 Reducing errors resulting from working on the wrong

version of a design or receiving important information too late

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Conclusion

Furthermore, for companies that rated themselves as “innovative,” 84% identified their top improvement area as “Contributors always being able to get access to tools and data when they need it.”

In fact, even though innovative companies have already done the most to improve their productivity, they still rate these areas as their highest priorities for further improvement. For companies using a Product Data Management system, 82% agree it is solving that problem. But at the same time, most of those users blame their PDM

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

system for slowing down the overall design process and/or blocking access to design data when team members need it. In fact, 72% believe there “has to be a better way.” In summary, both individual contributors and management in companies of all sizes are identifying design processes – and not specific design software functionality or manufacturing tools – as their most important priority for improvement. 9 out of 10 individual contributors say they want earlier and better communication with colleagues outside the core engineering team, and they say they are often receiving important information too late. Executives and project managers, meanwhile, desire more visibility into every stage of the design process without the need for in-person review meetings or checking progress by emails or phone calls.

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Conclusion

According to the survey results, these communication problems are shared by small and large companies alike – and their importance increases with the size of the product development team and the complexity of the design. Finally, given the universal focus on productivity at nearly every successful company, we were surprised by how many engineers, managers and executives say they are still wasting too much time across the entire product development process. Whether it was expressed as reducing mistakes, poor communication, inadequate visibility, too many meetings, time wasted working on the wrong data, getting important information too late, or time spent on IT and other soul-crushing overhead, the single biggest problem in manufacturing companies of all sizes is process complexity and inefficiency.

THE STATE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & HARDWARE DESIGN 2019

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