Background

Linking product development and sales in a model-based environment

Nieke Roos
Leestijd: 7 minuten

Configuring, instead of re-engineering, complex high-tech solutions increases development efficiency, reduces errors and saves money. For this, constructing a stable link between configurable modules and customer-facing variations is paramount. Vanderlande and TNO’s ESI have developed an approach to overcome this configurability challenge.

Not so long ago, Vanderlande built its material handling systems as highly specific solutions tailored to the needs of each customer. Recently, however, the company has changed its course, moving away from such an engineer-to-order concept and switching to configure-to-order, where it creates a portfolio of pre-defined products that can be customized to fit a client’s wishes. This new approach increases development efficiency, reduces errors and saves money.

A successful configure-to-order approach requires a very close alignment between the product development and sales pipelines, even more so because it constitutes a major change of process. Sales should offer only configurations as supported by the development roadmap, while the development activities should create designs and decompositions that support the required configurability in customer solutions. “It’s a move from making what you sell to selling what you’ve made,” summarizes Ben Pronk, a system architect at TNO’s joint innovation center ESI.

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