Last summer I worked with a medical device company based in London as they were finishing up on finalizing their first prototype. Throughout this process, there was a lot of discussion about the location of their suppliers and the integration of their supply chain. The company decided to go with suppliers that were close to the headquarters (so they stayed within an hour of London) so that they would be able to stay in close communication with them throughout the developmental phase and going into the launch of the product. Although they could have found suppliers that would have worked faster and cost less in places like China, they purposely chose suppliers in close proximity, so they would have better communication. Throughout my experience there I saw how useful this decision turned out being. Throughout the developmental/prototype phase a lot of questions came up and a lot of issues had to be worked through. Luckily, the solution to this problem was only a quick trip of an hour away rather than an entire trip to a different country. This meant that problems could be solved a lot quicker, so in the end the process went faster and ended up being less costly due to low travel costs. Also, the close proximity allowed the company to build a good relationship with the supplier, so that they felt they could trust them to work towards the same goal of providing the best quality product possible. In the future this relationship could be beneficial as even more new products are developed because then the company will already have good suppliers they know they can trust and work well with.
I found this article (https://www.sdcexec.com/sourcing-procurement/article/12336811/how-the-supply-chain-can-help-improve-new-product-development-success) that specifically talks about the benefits of using the supply chain to help improve the development of new products. One thing the article mentions is the importance of including the suppliers in the design process. Suppliers can be helpful because they might have different information what kind of supplies that will go into the product, how different processes will work in making the product, etc. By working with the suppliers, possible problems/kinks in the supply chain can be worked out earlier in the process, which saves time and money. The idea is that with more brain power, the product will be more innovative and profitable. In class we talked about the pros and cons of supply chain transparency. While there is a risk in including suppliers in the design process, there are also many benefits that might make the transparency worthwhile. This is especially true if you know you can trust your supplier to uphold their end of the bargain. I find this especially interesting with the development of new products. Do you think there is a point in a product’s life cycle where it makes sense to change the supply chain? For example, after the new product is working well, does it make sense to then change suppliers in order to go with suppliers that are cheaper even if it means the suppliers are further away? Or should you continue to stay with the supplier you know and trust so that you can continue the strengthening the relationship even though it might cost a little more upfront?