Keywords: capacity, concurrent engineering, enterprise simulation, multinational, product design, sourcing
Evaluating approaches to product design and sourcing decisions in multinational companies
Product design and sourcing decisions are among the most difficult and important of all decisions facing multinational manufacturing companies, yet associated decision support and evaluation systems tend to be myopic in nature. Design for manufacture and assembly techniques, for example, generally focuses on manufacturing capability and ignores capacity although both should be considered. Similarly, most modelling and evaluation tools available to examine the performance of various solution and improvement techniques have a narrower scope than desired. A unique collaboration, funded by the US National Science Foundation, between researchers in the USA and the UK, currently addresses these problems. This paper describes a technique known as Design For the Existing Environment (DFEE) and an holistic evaluation system based on enterprise simulation that was used to demonstrate the business benefits of DFEE applied in a simple product development and manufacturing case study. A project that will extend these techniques to evaluate global product sourcing strategies is described along with the practical difficulties of building an enterprise simulation on the scale and detail required.