Hopefully I was able to convince you in my last articles that Component & Value Engineering (=VECE) can be more profitable than dealing with drugs, or can generate an equal profit per labor hour compared to new development at least.
Let’s now talk about tools that facilitate this work or make it possible in the first place.
Basic Tools – PDM Systems
Your company’s Product Data Management data should be stored somewhere, preferably in a PDM system. Representatives are: Enovia (Dassault), Agile (Oracle), TeamCenter (Siemens), and of course – admit it: Excel Sheets. If you do admit it: Please consider a more professional solution. Read more in my articles about the necessity of PDM systems. In Component Engineering, PDM data is about the so-called AMPL (=Approved manufacturer parts list), or simply said: „Which manufacturer part numbers are actually released by R&D, when a company part number is purchased? More about this in this article.
Obtaining information about (electronic) components
Via the AMPL we now know which manufacturer parts we buy. Now we like to know a lot of things about all our manufacturer part numbers:
– Life cycle (how long will the part be available for purchase), discontinuations.
– Price level and current delivery times, sources of supply.
– Alternative / cheaper competitor parts incl. automatic comparison of all properties.
– Standards that a part complies with – or not: ROHS, REACH, California Prop 65, country of origin, conflict materials, etc.
For this I recommend:
- SiliconExpert – just get a free trial license directly from their website.
- Z2Data. The competitor to SiliconExpert.
Do I need it? My answer: It is completely unclear to me how a company dealing with electronic components can live without this tool at all. Not only R&D will use it daily, but also purchasing, compliance people, manufacturing, etc.
If you search for the manufacturer part numbers stored in your company PDM system for the first time using SiliconExpert, you will most likely experience a disappointment: the majority of the components will not be found accurately. However, don’t give up, because:
- SiliconExpert will make suggestions for a „spelling correction“.
- For an initial correction of ALL your components, Convergencedata.com can help; Am-Sys performs data cleansing as a process step as well – more on that in a moment.
How to manage Component und Value Engineering Projects
Let’s start with the project reporting of a value engineering project. A VE project is not fundamentally different from a „normal NPI project“, i.e. existing tools can be used here. Important are those functions:
– Capturing project ideas, i.e. proposals about value engineering ideas, including an estimate on effort and incremental profit.
– Assigning a unique project number
– For an ongoing project: planned savings, effort done and still planned, status of the project.
– For a completed project: reporting, i.e. real savings (=additional profit) per month within the reporting period.
From a certain company size on, I recommend to have a look at Accolade from Sopheon
Idea collection, Project Management, Project reporting for Component Engineering
Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you in this case. As far as I know, there is no suitable tool available on the market. If you know one (and maybe even use it): Please let me know.
However, my data miner group and I have written such a tool ourselves in the past and used it with great success. In the end, 10,000s of small CE projects and ideas were loaded, categorized and monetized, duplicate work was avoided, you could transparently tackle the most profitable projects first. Who wants to have such a system as well: Just contact me.
More useful Tools
Lytica is quite unknown but can be useful to learn about the price level of my components. The principle: „If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine“, i.e. you share your prices with Lytica and in return you can see the prices of others for the same components in comparable quantities.
Has worked very well for me over the years. Either your company has a corporate wiki like Confluence already, or ask your IT install a freeware like Mediawiki (the well-known wikipedia.org is based on it).
The secret to success was to use „a common language“ for article names. No, I don’t mean English, but: Article name = company part number or article name = finished device number (SKU) or….
Of course a wiki is not intended to be a competitor or replacement to professional PDM – systems, BUT: There is information that you do NOT write into the PDM, but is well kept in the wiki.
Example: You did NOT release the relay from Omron for your company part number XYZ, simply because it was too expensive, or because it was not form, fit, function compatible. Years later there is a supply shortage, then such information is worth its weight in gold. Or, someone has 5 years later the supposedly good idea to qualify Omron again. With the information in the Wiki, one saves the possibly futile work.
IMHO, Am-Sys offers the best solution in terms of obsolescence management. Your company part numbers are screened and corrected at the beginning, then continuously queried via SiliconExpert. Emerging discontinuations, skyrocketing lead times, etc. can now no longer be overlooked. A workflow ensures that the component issue is resolved professionally. (Usually those issues are handled as a „hot potato problem“, right?). Aggregated upwards from the component via assemblies to the end devices, you can immediately see which device can still be built and for how long, due to which discontinuations. And as an add-on you get ROHS and a lot of other information for free.
Bay-soft is the best solution I know for finding parts and comparing prices. You may say: „I can do that with Octoparts or Findchips too“, but: Bay-soft goes far beyond. Bay-soft searches tens of manufacturers and distributors for all your “children in trouble” each day, shows estimated delivery times and balances between best price and fastest delivery time.
As always, I am looking forward to your feedback, especially if you know and use other tools in the field of component and value engineering.
And I would be happy to support you with that as well.