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Digital Supply Chain Green Thursday – SAP Intelligent Product Design

Thank you very much for joining us in this article of the Digital Supply Chain Green Thursday blog series. Every Thursday we will together take a closer look at one of the SAP Digital Supply Chain solutions and how they contribute to sustainability in supply chains all over the world. Have fun in following the blog series, we invite you to get in touch with us and feel free to share the blog posts among your peers. Here you can find last week’s article about SAP S/4HANA for product compliance being a powerful tool to ensure safety in the global maze of regu....

A thoughtful design is a huge step towards a sustainable product

Ask yourself this one question – who has the biggest impact on the sustainability of a product? The manufacturing department with all their machinery? The logistics provider with their choice of transport vehicle? The customer when using or consuming the product?

Even though during the manufacturing, the transport and especially the usage of a product, a lot of the product lifetime carbon footprint is emitted, it is during the product development where the sustainability of a product can be greatly influenced by thoughtfully designing with a sustainable mindset. By choosing materials and shapes, which are easy to produce in a sustainable way, a final form that allows an efficient packaging for transport and of course a product that is sustainable in its function and its end-of-life behavior.

Modern design is a global teamwork

Having one person making all these decisions would obviously not support the increasing speed of nowadays innovation cycles and with educated inputs from manufacturing experts and packaging engineers, the result will be even closer to perfection. In times of transnational companies and global players, collaboration does not only mean connecting people but more connecting countries and time zones. The development teams in the US and India working in cooperation with production specialists from Germany, the Swedish sustainability engineer and a freelancing packaging designer from Croatia. A great deal of collaboration, requirement management and communication are needed to ensure that all these cooks don’t spoil the broth.

Requirement management sets the scaffold for an efficient design process

A requirement is the written commitment to reach a certain goal and/or respect an agreed guideline during the development process. Therefore, it is important for these requirements to be discussed and to reflect the input of all the experts who are part of the collaboration. Requirements usually connect the decision about what is to be done with the person or department who can influence the parameter. For example, the decision to use fair-traded substances in the product will be written into a requirement for the procurement, so they know to look for supplier with sufficient certification and the bio-degradable packaging requirement will be the goal to fulfill for the packaging engineer. Also, the production specialist might request the developers to use a certain material or form because it allows him to lower the emissions product during the manufacturing process. To have an efficient and transparent development process it is of upmost importance to be able to check that the requirements don’t contradict each other, and to be able to follow up and ensure every requirement is being fulfilled.

Features of SAP Intelligent Product Design Source: SAP intelligent product design

Everything in one place – while working together all over the globe

Powerful tools and solutions like SAP Intelligent Product Design leverage the benefits of digitization to increase efficiency and transparency in the development process. In SAP intelligent product design, the product manager can set up a collaboration room and invite every internal stakeholder and external partner whose input is valuable for the development process. Now, all participants can upload important data from the SAP Document Management System or other sources. With all data being at one place a solid foundation is created to take fast and effective decisions while having an overview on all information available. The implemented digital workflow ensures a good overview, efficient working processes and everyone being provided with needed information all the time. Additional collaboration rooms can be opened to deal with more specific questions, for example potential suppliers can be simply invited into a collaboration room via the SAP ARIBA integration in order to give their thoughts and offers to the procurement department.

Taking the impact of your decision into consideration

Most of the times, when you feel insecure about a decision to make, it is because you don’t know about the outcomes and impact that is determined by this decision. The product development process is full of decisions and every requirement is a result of a decision being made. Fortunately, the integration of SAP Intelligent Product Design into S/4HANA ERP allows to build logical models, that are linked to requirements – including relationships and dependencies. Suddenly, development teams have transparency about the impact of a new requirement or of changes within the requirements. Knowing about the outcome of a decision leads to faster and better decision-making in the development process and prevents negative surprises on the way.

Design what the customer needs

Legal and regulatory requirements can be obtained through SAP S/4HANA for product compliance, every stakeholder in the collaboration room adds requirements to the list as well, what about including the customers voice as well? The integration of Qualtrics to SAP intelligent product design channels and consolidates customer feedback right into suggestions for development requirements that can be discussed and decided on by the product manager.

Support sustainable design with efficient processes

Nowadays, many different people are involved when it comes to developing or improving a product. With SAP Intelligent Product Design everyone can work together on a consistent set of relevant data, with a possibility to directly include customer feedback into the discussion. Finally, the commitment to the decisions is formed into requirements that can be connected to the logic model of the product – allowing to increase visibility about the impact a decision has on the product. Digital workstreams, which are set up by SAP Intelligent Product Design allow efficient task management and straight transparency about the requirements status. While increasing efficiency and preventing waste is already a first step towards a more sustainable product, this effect can be maximized by setting up sustainability requirements. Get in touch with your SAP contact, visit the product website and have a look at these YouTube videos to get further information. Act, so that everyone can do their part to fulfill the sustainable vision that you have for your product.

In a nutshell: SAP Intelligent Product Design does not only ensure that all the cooks don’t spoil the broth – it also adds a flavor of sustainability!

I hope you found this blog post helpful and interesting. Please make sure you follow me to not miss any future blog posts in this series and stay informed about how a Sustainable Supply Chain is supported by SAP Digital Supply Chain solutions! Feel free to have a look at my earlier posts as well:

DSC Green Thursday: At the end of every tunnel there is a light - will it be a green one?

DSC Green Thursday: “If you think compliance is expensive – try non-compliance”