Gone are the days when a manufacturer only received raw materials and made finished products in-house. In today’s complex, globally connected world, manufacturers source raw materials, parts, and assemblies. Organizing and optimizing a supply chain across geographies, product lines, and programs is a major challenge. The pressures of increased competition and rapid innovation make it necessary to increase time-to-market in every way possible.

By increasing reliance on suppliers, manufacturers are placing sourcing and procurement teams in the critical path of product development. Design, engineering, procurement, and suppliers all must collaborate with maximum transparency. Outdated methods and generalist tools such as email, spreadsheets, and department-centric databases do not allow efficient, transparent collaboration. Managing suppliers today requires a strategic approach which streamlines internal operations and connects suppliers. Bringing suppliers into the PLM information loop also has the added advantage of helping them design cost out of products early in the procurement cycle.

Many manufacturers use the genre of software known as SCM—Supply Chain Management. But SCM software is for operational and business data, and does not address the data and logistics issues engineering and manufacturing need. Working with the leading vendors, Razorleaf can help you install a Supplier Management system that gives manufacturing instant insight into critical supply chain, compliance, and part data.

Proven Cost Reduction

One study cited by Siemens PLM shows when manufacturing companies involve their suppliers at design inception, they achieve cost reductions of up to 18% when compared to companies using traditional supplier management methods. Additionally, early involvement in procurement for new product development can reap a 20% improvement in time-to-market cycles.

Once supplier collaboration is in place, it becomes easier to continue creating a virtuous cycle of reducing production costs and increase part reuse, improving competitive advantage and extending a product’s lifecycle.

Supplier Management Features

All leading vendors of PLM software offer solutions for supplier management. Specific features vary; Razorleaf can help your company choose which solution will be the best fit for your specific needs. Common features of supplier management systems for PLM include:

Supplier Information Management: Track, record, and update supplier profiles; authorize supplier employee allowed system access; maintain approved supplier lists. Analyze which vendors consistently deliver on-schedule and with high quality.

Connect with SCM: Utilize data from your existing supply chain management software to simplify access to part and supplier information, extending the usefulness of this data beyond operations.

Security: Control level-of-detail access to part and assembly data by responsibility or employer; control access to BOMs; assign role-based access for specific types of information.

Qualify new suppliers: Create supplier development plans to increase supplier input.

Track supplier metrics: Use a supplied template or create a custom supplier performance workflow to track key delivery issues.

Include quality as a supplier issue: Part quality plans can be added to the supplier management workflow, to record adherence to process standards, and to help drive plan execution through the supply chain. Quality engineers get the data they need to work with suppliers; the planning process becomes a measurable process.

Supplier Management Benefits

When a fully automated supplier management workflow is in place, the complexity of the supply chain is no longer obscured by location or communications issues. Companies already using supplier management in their PLM report these significant benefits:

Instant access: The information designers, managers, and manufacturing engineers need is always available, from the earliest stages of new product development to ongoing manufacturing.

Procurement involvement: The procurement team can be included in post-launch engineering change processes, to ensure original expectations are not diminished.

Lower product costs: Increasing the use of preferred suppliers—as proved in the supplier management system—can lower product costs over time. It can also minimize inventory control issues.

Hidden part issues: Manual methods of supplier management often lead to overlooked part inventories, obsolete parts still on standard order, and make it hard to discover parts which are becoming hard to get. The complete visibility of all parts in PLM eliminates these hidden part issues.

Increased supplier input: When preferred suppliers are involved as collaborators from the earliest design stages, cost reduction and manufacturing innovation become built-in to the process.

Strategic sourcing: When supplier data is open and accessible, it become possible to use the data on capability, quality, and past performance to make strategic decisions about outsourcing for new products.

Strategic Supplier Management

Today’s supplier management software makes it possible to securely share product information, including CAD models and specifications without risking exposure of intellectual property. Collaboration allows engineers to work with suppliers as an extension of internal resources, making it possible to reduce or eliminate design iterations and improve quality.

Adding a fully digital supplier management workflow to your PLM platform will accelerate your company’s design-to-source processes. Razorleaf can help you implement supplier management on a piece-at-a-time basis, or as an overhaul to an existing outdated process. Manufacturers who take control of supplier management from initial concept to end-of-product create an efficient workflow that save money and improves processes.