To determine how successful the automotive engineering manufacturing industry is, it is essential to assess the product lifecycle of the products. When you understand the products and the stages they are in you will be able to determine the success of the products. As a profession in the automotive, mechanical engineering and aerospace industry, you will know the steps that you can take to improve or recycle the products.
Introduction to the product life cycle
The product life cycle is simply the series of stages that a product has to go through. Ideally, it begins from introduction into the market to the ultimate stage where discontinuation or unavailability of the product happens. We can say the product lifecycle defines the lifespan of a product. The product lifecycle can be well understood as a curve with several phases. These phases include launch/ introduction, growth, maturity, saturation/ stagnation and lastly decay or decline. By knowing each phase it will help determine the success of the product.
In the current market, there are numerous activities undertaken before launching the product. For instance, if an engineering services company is launching, lets a drone, it will ensure its future customers are conversant with the product. The engineering services company might choose to advertise the products before they enter the market. We have seen some have also called interested partners and future customers to their industrial engineering facilities to see the drones (product) being manufactured and tested. This will prepare them for purchasing the product. Ideally, preparation will bring marketing success once the product enters the market. At market entry, the engineering or automotive companies make huge sales as it is being purchased by potential customers.
The growth phase of the product lifecycle, the product there an observable increase in profits and sales, here market volume and sales are growing strongly. In this stage, there might be competition from comparable products but your products are doing great. At the maturation phase, the product has reached maximum absorption capacity in the market. It cannot attract any more customers. Competition might have exceeded and the sales start to realign themselves. At saturation stage, there is cutthroat competition and your company will need to reduce product costs and offer products at lower prices. If your drones were priced at 430 Euro you will need to cut this by a substantial amount.
Another alternative is to revise the product, an effort to relaunch or facelift it. For instance engineers in Europe has realized that major cities have reached their capacity limit and they are not investing in making drones, volocopters, flying cars and vertically launching jets. Though this technology is in its initial stage it will greatly change people’s lives. The last stage is decay or decline; you would remember some famous cars brands such as Pontiac, Tatra, and Plymouth. Most of these brands have ceased to exist because they failed to bring successor product in time. The reason why some products are discontinued in the market is that competitors are always in coming up with new and more attractive products. If you are not keeping up with your competitor’s innovation you risk being faced out in the engineering industry.
PLC in production and business environment
Product life cycle (PLC) is important for both mass production and B2B businesses. In mass production, it would help in manufacturing the product in time, in the right volume, with improved quality, and at the most reasonable cost. This might be challenging but it will ensure that you come up with a product that has high sustainability. In mass production, the product lifecycle will help determine how fast you can increase your production rate. You will know how to keep a steady pace of production and strategies on maintaining and improving the product.
In B2B environment understanding the stages of product life cycle will help you determine the type of inbound marketing to deploy. It will help in building awareness through webinars, blogs and effective PR. This move will help you to be noticed the industry influencers. There is a stage in the PLC that will help you to use the established network to push the product forward. You will also need to position your product as the industry leader using the PLC knowledge. Lastly to avoid decay you will either need to give incentive your customer in order to stay loyal and possibly introduce a newer and better product.
A lot of manufacturing has been occurring at industrial engineering environment. People are designing more superior products. However, some products have become obsolete because of a lack of sustainability and failing to have known recycling options. The PLC stages show that unless improved the product will reach some breaking point. Experts warned that failure to understand the product life cycle causes planned obsolescence of product. When using smartphones you will realize that they come with extra buttons to use in case of defective or damaged screen. For instance, iPhone has an extra switch that acts a home button. The same happens to laptops and other entering products.
In current PLC engineers are working with shorter innovation cycles. If in the current market you come up with a TV that can serve for 20 years, you are mistaken. Competitors in industrial engineering are incorporating artificial breakpoints into their products. This brings great advantage to the manufacturer; they will have an opportunity to sell their innovative products. But to a customer it means you will be in an endless cycle of buying, throwing away and buying new ones.
Is extended life cycle achievable today?
In the automotive engineering and manufacturing revolutionary technology has been developed to ensure production of high quality and improved products. Using 3D printers companies benefit from an opportunity to manufacture complex products more easily and in lesser cost than ever before. These technologies have been employed in automobile manufacturing and formula 1 machines.
Extending the product lifecycle is essential today is important because it amounts to manufacturing automotive for the future. Manufacturers have greatly invested in advanced driver assistance cars and autonomous driving systems. This is useful because it helps adapt to more competitive environments and markets. Extending product life cycle in the automotive is assisting in adopting better business models, improve product development and manufacturing operations. This ensures engineering services choose high research and development technology, adhere to government legislation and safety regulations and can withstand longer test cycles.
Paying attention to procurement (upstream)
The product life cycle is particularly important in procurement. In the automotive industry, it is being used to provide tailored engineering services. In the upstream phase of automotive engineering, the old-fashioned four-wheeled cars that were equipped with basic features are now getting phased out. Engineers are now coming up with connected cars that support cloud computing, big data and has some internet connectivity.
Modern engineering services have come with unimaginable possibilities such as having intelligent traffic monitors, collision avoidance mechanism, parking management systems, and remote monitoring and diagnostic. The aviation industry has been transformed through the introduction of volocopters, city airbus, and the flying car.
Special attention be paid to disposal
The disposal of engineering products such as cars and planes at the end of their useful life is a growing waste management problems across the world. Abandoned machines or vehicles parts on public and private property impose environment risks and degradation. Gasoline and diesel fuel form the abandoned vehicles and machines pollute surface water and groundwater. It is therefore important to drain all fuel, oil, antifreeze and other fluids from abandoned machines, you should store all recovered fluids in closed structurally sound and non-breakable containers.
When disposing vehicles and other machines, do not crush the structure if the fuel tank is attached. In the storage area you will need to keep vandals and any unauthorized persons from entering. Keep the storage security secure and make sure there are no trespassers.
How PLC can be artificially extended
Assessing the sales of the product is a sure way for measuring the success of your product. Some products continue to grow over an extended period of time. One way of achieving it would be to maintain a strong brand loyalty. However, if you fear your product is on a decline phase you can employ some marketing techniques to improve sales. Advertising is a popular technique that has been utilized in gaining new customers and reminding old of your products. You can also work on reducing the prices or adding the value of the product. Other options to extend the product life cycle would involve face-lifting and exploring new markets.
Why consider procurement and disposal
Major organizations have been campaigning for sustainable procurement, this is a procurement that has the potential to transform markets, boost the competitiveness of eco-industries and save money. Other benefits include conserving natural resources and foster job creation. Different engineering services companies have embraced this procurement practice and are reporting of massive benefits. For instance, the city of Vienna saves 44.4 million Euros and more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide through its eco-buying programme. Both procurements need to promote do no harm principle in order to promote a good environment and health. Disposal of engineering products should involve capital planning in stages. This should occur systematically as that of services system. It is essential for engineering products to have components that can be recycled after the decline phase. The recycling should not cause detrimental effects to the environment.
Procurement and recycling in production
This calls for teamwork from different professionals in the automotive engineering and manufacturing industry. The life cycle managers need to collaborate with design engineers. In industrial engineering there is what is known as concurrent engineering- operations run parallel until the declining phase of production. In this regard, the lifecycle manager, the product manager, and product development experts need to work as a team to improve the product lifecycle and plan of a viable recycling strategy.