Bud Helisson
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Digital Manufacturing Ecosystem Delivers Improved Transparency

Sept. 1, 2020
Radical transparency provides unprecedented visibility and traceability into manufacturing processes to ensure quality and mitigate risk for mechanical engineers and supply chain managers unable to visit factory floors during COVID-19.

Fictiv recently unveiled industry-first features that deliver unprecedented visibility, traceability, speed, and quality benefits for customers leveraging its Digital Manufacturing Ecosystem (DME) to order high-tolerance, custom mechanical parts for both prototyping and production needs. In response to evolving customer work-from-home requirements as well as more compressed NPI timelines, Fictiv’s new radical transparency initiative brings into focus the otherwise opaque nature of traditional onshore and overseas manufacturing and introduces significant risk mitigation and cost-savings opportunities.

The impact for enterprise companies trying to orchestrate production of hundreds of parts at once is enormous. According to Antonio Ruiz, supervisor, strategic sourcing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, “Having 24/7 visibility and access to the real-time schedule of things is a game-changer.”

According to Ibrahim Toukan, head of supply chain at Level 5, Lyft’s autonomous vehicle unit, “Fictiv’s new streamlined end-to-end process is exciting, capturing the entire value chain from design upload through DFM with real-time pricing. Impressive stuff.”

Key Transparency Features

  • On-Demand Production Status: detailed current production status of all the parts within every order, immediately and online;
  • Virtual Inspection Photos: inspection photos from manufacturing partner facilities, before the parts are delivered;
  • Centralized Access to Quality Documentation: material certifications, certificates of conformance, and inspection documentation all available in one place;
  • Order Configuration Details: centralized access to 2D and 3D design files, thread specifications, material and process configurations, and invoices for all Fictiv orders;
  • Historical DFM: digitally call up previous manufacturability feedback for all ordered parts to inform future design cycles;
  • Reorders: streamlined quoting process to reorder parts and lock in previous pricing;
  • Shipment Tracking: aggregate tracking links from third-party providers to keep all shipments in one secure place.

These new features integrate seamlessly into the Fictiv digital thread, a combination of technology and process that enables the manufacture of complex, high-precision mechanical parts at 100x the speed and 1/10th the cost versus traditional solutions. The data produced from Fictiv’s digital thread helps drive automation to speed up production and prevent errors. For example, every part produced through the Fictiv DME receives a minimum of five dimensional inspections, with the resulting data captured digitally for fast and simple validation.

“Historically, companies were working in the dark, relying on paper-based workflows, including phone calls late at night, file transfers, emails, and time-consuming site inspections when it came to overseas manufacturing – a risky, expensive process that often resulted in delays and quality issues,” said Fictiv CEO Dave Evans. “Fictiv’s groundbreaking new radical transparency initiative is better because our quality engineers and customers can inspect a part all along the way. These features introduce a disruptive set of visibility controls and prompts that peel back the covers and make it possible for engineers and supply chain managers to clearly see, communicate, and track progress of manufacturing work and come away with complete confidence in quality outcomes, delivery times, and costs.”

For small businesses like Rise Robotics out of Somerville, MA, this level of visibility is truly unprecedented. “Everything is completely manual today,” said Blake Sessions, director of R&D at Rise Robotics. “Having all this data updating live in one centralized place — part by part, order by order — is incredible.”

“Quality control for overseas manufacturing is an expansive, herculean effort, requiring multiple week-long trips every year pre-pandemic for an entire team, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in hard expenditures and lost opportunity costs,” explained Gregg Miner, an independent product developer and prototyping specialist. “Now, there isn’t even an option for travel, forcing companies to accept whatever product shows up at their door.”

Transparency is particularly important to unlock innovation in the robotics sector, which is expected to reach $64 billion by 2023, according to a 2019 BCC Research report. Fictiv already serves a significant number of all venture-backed robotics companies requiring high-tolerance machined parts. 

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