The Shrinking Manufacturing Cycle

Created: January 4, 2020
Updated: April 5, 2021

Engineer Design Process - Cycle

Traditionally, an engineering cycle has been considered to be on the order of 18 months. That’s the time between generations of products, whether it’s a new processor or a new Internet appliance. Today, a company that operates on an 18-month cycle is considered slow within many industries. If you have a lot of competitors, their release cycles are likely out of phase from yours. For example, if there are three companies serving an application space, with an 18-month cycle, this means the market has next-generation devices available every six months. Granted, the improvements aren’t as extensive for each “new” generation since the improvements are split three-ways as well.

What’s important in this example is that each company has a six-month window where they are the market leader. Then the next new devices come out, which drives down the price of current product and it’s a lean year until the next big release.

What if you could change your design cycle from 18 months to 6 months? You could then compete each new cycle. You would also be able to charge a premium for your IP investment while taking market share from your competitors.

Some companies already do this with software. Rather than plan huge releases, they schedule multiple releases that give customers a reason to purchase now rather than wait a year. What if you could do the same with hardware?

Automated manufacturing is making this a reality. New design tools and manufacturing technology combine together to enable developers to quickly modify designs and bring them to production. For example, Gumstix has a state-of-the-art automated manufacturing process. Developers are able to tap into the agility and flexibility of this process through Upverter, a design tool that enables you to easily build custom modules that can be manufactured quickly, reliably, and cost-effectively.

With these tools, developers can take advantage of continuous manufacturing. By manufacturing in smaller volumes, developers can continuously make incremental changes to board designs. Thus, rather than having a warehouse full of product that is quickly becoming out-of-date, inventory can be kept at a level that rotates updated product to the market at a regular pace.

There are many benefits to this approach. First, a company can bring new features and capabilities to market quickly. This means you address new market trends immediately to capture new market share before your competition does. The agility to adapt quickly also means you don’t ever have to be a “Me-too” company who is second or third to market with a product.
There’s no reason to follow tradition, especially one like the 18-month design cycle. By leveraging the design tools and continuous manufacturing capabilities available to you, you can drive change in your market rather than trail behind the pack.
Take a look at some Gumstix customer success stories or contact Gumstix today to learn more about their products, design tools, and services. Or try out Upverter, their customized module design tool, for yourself.

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