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Take charge of your design risks

By Jani Ojala, Country Manager of EDRMedeso in Finland and the United Kingdom

Almost every company I’ve met over the last 10 years have endured warranty costs and lost deals due to lack of quality in their designs. Warranty costs or business risks are like water in a leaky boat: You never get completely rid of it, but as long as the amount of money you spend on “nothing” is below the accepted level, no one really worries about it.

However, when water gets into your rubber boots, the screaming starts, and it is time to find the guilty one. The danger here is usually that no one really knows beforehand whether a design risk is controlled or not. And when it is not, then … well, your boots get really wet.

Why do so many businesses ignore design risks?

I have often been pondering why many businesses will rather endure the warranty cost, possibly bad publicity, and dissatisfied customers, instead of taking steps to ensure that their design is robust?

The reasons I have heard are typically lack of time, lack of testing resources, lack of operating conditions data etc. I have even heard of a company that believed enduring warranty costs related to poor designs was worth it, because it equals a “cheap engineering department.” I wonder whether that company still exists.

For other companies, the reason is not unwillingness but unawareness. They have simply not assessed what unhandled design risk can lead to. I have met companies with massive and costly quality programs for their supplies. But when the companies are asked what they do to handle design risks, there’s complete and utter silence. Of course, it is important to ensure high quality from all your suppliers, but if your own design process has flaws, you still end up with a product of poor quality.

The real frontrunners invest in better quality

In my more than 10 years in this industry, I have met many successful companies. And I have considered what really sets them apart from their less successful competitors. It is quite simple: Their design quality is just better.

But why do they focus more on design quality? Is it because they appreciate their customers and their business more than their competitors do? Or could it be that they have found a way to lower warranty costs and increase customer satisfactions? I believe it is the latter. By creating better quality designs, companies can increase both their revenues and their bottom lines simultaneously.

Not as difficult as one might think.

Reducing risks and costs caused by not-so-robust-designs is actually a simple task: You must build more prototypes and perform more tests. You probably know that already but if you think it is too costly, think again. You merely have to move from physical prototypes to digital prototypes.

When you build a digital prototype, you can run hundreds or even thousands of design and operating profile variations overnight. This enables you to test more and test faster helping you to create better quality products and shortening your time to market. If you furthermore build a digital twin of your product, you can even run risk assessments online and in real-time by using the actual operating data from the field through IoT.

Your business should not be subject to uncontrolled design risks. You should know exactly how much water you have in your boat today and where is it coming from. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to know more about digital prototyping and how you can use it to leverage your business and keep your socks dry.

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