CoDevelopment, also known as Agile Hardware Development or Agile Electronics Development, is the idea that continuously shared design and manufacturing data leads to better results. In a linear Design, Build Test (DBT) cycle, engineers create complete design documentation and then hand it over to a component manufacturer (CM) to be built. The expectation is that the two parties won’t communicate during the build phase unless there’s an issue. Every issue that’s discovered by the manufacturer thus necessitates an unplanned issue resolution session, delaying the start of the build. CoDevelopment allows designers to initiate communication with the CM as soon as the first board outline is conceived; the stakeholders then continue to collaborate throughout the design and build process. This allows the CM to begin data processing tasks, including data validation, sourcing, design for manufacturing studies (DFM), configuration management, CAM generation, and production planning, during the design phase.
CoDevelopment is faster than the traditional, linear path that PCBA manufacturing has typically followed. This is a little counter-intuitive, as most engineers believe that collaboration is always less efficient than individual effort. CoDevelopment as practiced by Tempo Automation, however, is a not parade of meetings, emails, and phone calls to share status, correct misunderstandings, and escalate issues. It is seamless, instant access to a shared data set powering a software-driven smart factory. If an engineer spots an error or Tempo’s software flags an issue such as an unavailable component, the data set can be edited directly without creating a new version. Because design, data validation, and issue resolution are occurring in parallel, issue resolution is off the critical path. Unlike in linear DBT build cycles, where there is a day-for-day delay if issues are found, CoDevelopment allows issues to be resolved and immediately rolled into the design without delaying the start date.
CoDevelopment with Tempo in Practice
In practice, CoDevelopment with Tempo Automation is supported by a “digital thread” that automates the flow of information from the engineer’s design to the machines and the people on the connected factory floor. Engineers communicate directly with the manufacturer throughout the build process, working with them synergistically to complete the order with quality, speed, and accuracy. Both designers and manufacturers draw from a single source of truth guaranteeing the correct design configuration is built. Seamless engineering change order (ECO) processing allows in-process course correction during manufacture, and all communication is captured and stored in the production log. Engineers are in turn provided important insight and a virtual presence on the factory floor during the PCBA process.
Efficiency throughout the Design Lifecycle
CoDevelopment saves time at the beginning of the design cycle by conducting design and build activities simultaneously and eliminating issue resolution delays from the timeline – in other words, it doesn’t require the design to be perfect the first time the CM sees it, nor that the CM interprets and executes it perfectly in an information vacuum. CoDevelopment also saves time by saving cycles: the design doesn’t have to be “first-time-right,” but the actual board is far more likely to be. CoDevelopment creates multiple opportunities for data feedback from manufacturing into the design process. This leads to fewer revisions overall, because there is no longer the need to completely re-spin the board to correct issues.
CoDevelopment in the Age of Social Distance
The efficiency inherent in CoDevelopment is especially important in light of the demands and strain the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on PCBA manufacturing. The crisis was the mother of astonishing innovation as engineering teams raced to bring new medical devices and other hardware to market. It also led to global supply chain upheaval, creating extended delivery times and shortages for critical PCB components. Engineers could neither wait on the resolution of the delays and other errors, nor travel to inspect a build in progress or resolve issues in person. Tempo’s CoDevelopment process ensured that collaboration, transparency, and production continued uninterrupted throughout the crisis – our San Francisco-based smart factory didn’t close for a single day.
Tempo’s CoDevelopment approach is fundamentally different from linear DBT manufacturing. Designers have more control and insight throughout the manufacturing process. The digital thread and shared single source of truth protects the quality of the data. The transparency and communication facilitate higher fidelity of the design, allowing faster delivery of first-time-right PCBAs.
CoDevelopment, as supported by Tempo’s software-driven smart factory, is the shortest path to reality for complex products.
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