IWCO Direct’s Product Engineering Initiative was developed to enhance creativity and innovation through the support of new technologies and capabilities. One of the ways in which it does this is by defining and categorizing the products being requested and associating them with the possible manufacturing methods and equipment required. It also identifies the products as ‘standard’ or ‘non-standard’ along with special requirements to help guide the conversations to cover all the key aspects of the job. This can be especially useful when discussing campaign mail quantities and associated timelines. Sometimes one minor change can move a product back into a ‘standard’ classification and double, triple, or even quadruple the production capacity on a product or format. The Product Engineering Initiative leads us down the path of defining requirements to balance flexibility with efficiency.
The main focus of our Product Design Editor (PDE) tool has been expanding the ‘non-standard’ product options. While the frequency of producing non-standard products is lower, they are more complex and have more special requirements. The combination of infrequent use and additional requirements make them a good fit for the PDE and an automated review of specifications. This has also continued to drive the creation and updating of our corporate definition and specification documents, laying the foundation for standardizing terms related to products and manufacturing.
Our core team conducted an in-depth review of the development approach needed to take the PDE to the next level: a fully-automated Product Design Solution (PDS). We elected to focus on external development options using an Agile methodology due to the size and scope of the initiative. We performed a thorough search and review of custom software development companies to identify a good partner for this initiative. We have identified a company and the proposal is being finalized for review by our executive committee.
Initial feedback from internal teams has been positive. We are confident that all major limitations we have identified in the software used to create the PDE proof-of-concept will be resolved through the custom software development.
Once the project is approved, we will work with the selected software development company to finalize the development plan and timeline. The representatives and subject matter experts for all associated areas and departments will be identified. After that, an aggressive work schedule will begin as development ramps up.
We look forward to providing this exciting new tool to support our customers in the near future. Stay tuned for further updates as our Product Engineering Initiative continues to advance.
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