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Who’s Driving the Design Chain?

Who's driving the design chain? That's not exactly easy to answer. Historically, one's answer had depended on where one sat in the electronics supply chain.

Once, large distributors described the design chain as more of a demand chain, in which the use of distributor-supplied suites of engineering services were leveraged to encourage product training and guidance, and eventually demand for products in their linecards. Engineers would have categorized design-chain efforts as educational ones, where they had the chance to learn from suppliers, picking up a few specific tips and tricks on their key products.

However, as we find ourselves moving into the last quarter of 2013, such views are one-dimensional and outdated. Sure, your favorite distributor may still offer training on the products that make up its linecards. And, sure, engineers looking to expand their knowledge base eagerly attend such training.

However, that's not the be-all and end-all of the design chain anymore.

With engineers finding themselves with less time for projects, yet still needing to be knowledgeable of not just what they are designing, but every step of the way of a design's components — from origin location, to materials and manufacturing, to best use, through end of life — distributors have stepped up design-chain initiatives. In doing so, they have responded to environmental compliance, government regulations, increased demands on workflow at an accelerated pace, a corporate and economic environment that has made competitors of former partners and partners of former competitors, and even more changes to our always evolving electronics supply chain and industry.

Now, with even more options available to engineers, including kits and 3D printing that move designs to fruition at a tremendous and unbelievable speed, imagination has become a stronger influence. And who's more imaginative than an engineer? No one.

Design chains are no longer simple examples of engineering and technology organizations working together to create designs for new products. Now, it's about innovation, partnering, and coming up with a better outcome that not only produces a well engineered product, but that offers room for growth for both the engineer and distributor.

The truth is that when it comes to answering “who's driving the design chain,” it's both the engineer and distributor. And on EBN's new Design Chain section, launched today, you'll find a home for many different angles of the design chain. Check it out for a look at how-to design tips, imaginative innovations, influences like 3D printing, green pushes, and more.

Just as the term “distribution” is evolving, so is the design chain — and for the better. Tell us what you think about the design chain and what you'd like to see on this new EBN section in the comments field below.

23 comments on “Who’s Driving the Design Chain?

  1. Lavender
    August 28, 2013

    And who's more imaginative than an engineer? No one.

    Personally, everyone can drive the design chain. From custoemrs perspective, their complaint are usually the driving force and source for engineers and designers. Despite the imaginative engineer, life are the base of design. 

  2. Daniel
    August 29, 2013

    “Once, large distributors described the design chain as more of a demand chain, in which the use of distributor-supplied suites of engineering services were leveraged to encourage product training and guidance, and eventually demand for products in their linecards.”

    Suzanne, I think that explanation is right because always designs are driving by customer requirements.  Based on the customer or market requirement, design engineers are trying to design the system for catering such requirements.

  3. Daniel
    August 29, 2013

    “Personally, everyone can drive the design chain. From custoemrs perspective, their complaint are usually the driving force and source for engineers and designers. Despite the imaginative engineer, life are the base of design. “

    Lily, you are right. design engineers are the most imaginative peoples to cater customer requirement.

  4. ahdand
    August 29, 2013

    @Jacob: True, design engineers target the eyes of the customers. That is what is important since customers mainly go for the outer look and the usability factors.

  5. Houngbo_Hospice
    August 29, 2013

    @Lily: Not everyone can drive the design chain. Customers can influence the design, but it is the designer who comes up with the original idea based on people's need. It is well kown that users don't always know what they need.

  6. Himanshugupta
    August 29, 2013

    The design is i think evolving thing, i mean a designer cannot come up with a design without having a feel for what people want. Otherwise it will be an art and not a design. Design need to serve both functional and aesthetic purpose.

  7. RyanL
    August 29, 2013

    As a CM we don't get involved in design if we can help it, however sometimes the practical insights we can give can greatly help a design engineer. Design for manufacture is really an art in and of itself. An imaginative engineer can dream up nearly anything, putting it into a design that is sustainably buildable is something else entirely.

  8. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    August 29, 2013

    @Lily, very true! and often it's the users who provide the most useful and real-world feedback. Smart organizatoins take this sort of input very seriously, whether its at the component level or an end user product.

  9. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    August 29, 2013

    @hospice, i think the designer also has the job of navigating between what is desired and what is reasonable. Users may want something but it is prohibitively expensive or technically impossible. Then the designer has the challenge of providing the most of what people want in a way that it can be delivered at a price and in a package that is reasonable.

  10. Lavender
    August 30, 2013

    Hospice, you are right. Some users really don't know their need. But user experience is the major driving force for product innovation. 

    For today's consumer electronics, youngsters play an important role in the design chain, at least, contributing various ideas through interviewee. But designers are some part of people, showing limitation in imagination, I think. 

  11. Taimoor Zubar
    August 30, 2013

    “Then the designer has the challenge of providing the most of what people want in a way that it can be delivered at a price and in a package that is reasonable.”

    @Hailey: I completely agree. This is why design is not just an area dealing with imaginations and ideas – something that's a common misconception. A very important part is looking at the practicality of ideas and in-depth knowledge about what it will cost to bring ideas to reality.

  12. Daniel
    August 31, 2013

    “True, design engineers target the eyes of the customers. That is what is important since customers mainly go for the outer look and the usability factors.”

    Nimantha, I think customer requirements are recorded by other set of engineers and design engineers are helping them to make it realistic or fruitful.

  13. Daniel
    August 31, 2013

    “i think the designer also has the job of navigating between what is desired and what is reasonable. Users may want something but it is prohibitively expensive or technically impossible.”

    Hailey, when comes to certain customers, they need their requirement to meet at any cost. I mean that they don't want to hear NO from design engineers.

  14. Ashu001
    August 31, 2013

    Jacob,

    Do you feel such Customers are More/Less in Number today?

    My Personal Experiences have been that Consumers have become more Cost conscious today but then I could be wrong.

    WHat does your extensive Experience here tell You?

  15. Daniel
    August 31, 2013

    “My Personal Experiences have been that Consumers have become more Cost conscious today but then I could be wrong. WHat does your extensive Experience here tell You?”

    tech4people, I had handled both set of customers. Now I agree cost comes major in terms of negotiation. But there are other set of customers, who had to meet specific requirements, rather than the cost factor.

  16. Ashu001
    August 31, 2013

    Jacob,

    Thanks for sharing your experience here.

    What is the breakup like?

    How many customers are Cost Conscious today(% wise)?

    How many want Quality at any price?

     

  17. Daniel
    August 31, 2013

     “What is the breakup like? How many customers are Cost Conscious today(% wise)?  How many want Quality at any price?”

    Tech4people, the rough estimation is 25% of customers are looking for quality at any price, 30% for quality at a better price and 40% are very cost conscious.

  18. t.alex
    September 1, 2013

    I would give a very generic statement and say it's the human interactions that drive the design chain 🙂 It's not really a particular job title or particular position that really has a stronger influence than the other.  

  19. Daniel
    September 3, 2013

    “I would give a very generic statement and say it's the human interactions that drive the design chain 🙂 It's not really a particular job title or particular position that really has a stronger influence than the other.  

    Alex, am not getting about what you meant by generic statement about human interactions

  20. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 4, 2013

    @Hospice, you make an important dinstinction between influence and authority here. Of course, if the engineers and designers are smart, they listen to the customers….but they have authority in what goes on.

  21. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 4, 2013

    @Jacob, interesting break up… i would have thought that the cost conscious sector was bigger and the quality at any price people were less well represented. I'm probably in that middle category myself… but that's more because of budgetary realities. 🙂

  22. Daniel
    September 5, 2013

    “interesting break up… i would have thought that the cost conscious sector was bigger and the quality at any price people were less well represented. I'm probably in that middle category myself… but that's more because of budgetary realities. :)”

    Hailey, majority looks for better quality for a least price due to budgetary constrains. Value of the money- is the new slogan

  23. Daniel
    August 8, 2014

    “I simply want to tell you that I am new to weblog and definitely liked this blog site. Very likely I'm going to bookmark your blog . You absolutely have wonderful stories. Cheers for sharing with us your blog”

    Jackdon, thanks and welcome to our community. Hope are able to enjoy our technical articles.

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