How to stay out of the trough of despair (part 1 of 3): 6 ways to make sure your new ideas can shine in today’s online B2B world

Most US manufacturers, finishers, and assorted job shops are being kept in the trough of the smile curve (see my previous blog post These companies are being pushed down into the lowest valuation level while new companies are being created both to the right and left of this curve and taking all the value with them. As new techniques are spawned to improve performance, cost, or quality, these techniques are nibbling away at the definition of manufacturing and leaving traditional manufacturers and job shoppers holding only the dregs.  

What is keeping manufacturers, finishers, and other job shops from getting out of the trough?  Lack of digitization! If you digitize your footprint, you too can get more value for your work.    

This blog will give you 5 concrete things you can do to increase your value in the ideation to NPI phases of the manufacturing value chain. These actions will result in:

  • Faster time to market ->> MORE SALES
  • Reduced risk through better process modeling ->> LOWER EXPENSES
  • More digitization ->> MORE BETTER EVERYTHING

If a serious lack of labor is your number one problem, then the biggest potential benefit you can get from increasing your digital footprint is to make manufacturing – your manufacturing – cool again. According to a recent whitepaper, “Future-Proofing for ‘Millennial Manufacturing’ (”, digitization can make some of your labor issues go away! From the whitepaper:

“..(millennials) are technology savvy and often socially conscious individuals and may not see manufacturing as a good career for them. Many millennials incorrectly view manufacturing as a field without the purpose, vision, and leadership they are looking for in a career.”

Adding interesting tools and techniques can attract more talent to your shop!!! 

In this blog, we’ll talk about how to create value for your organization by digitizing your ideation and NPI processes. Here are the 5 suggestions:

1.  Use Rapid Prototyping (for products) and Product Simulations (for processes)

Use these tools to get real world results, faster. You want quick turns. You want to fail fast and improve faster. Use rapid prototyping and simulation to increase product and process design innovation and decrease time to market. You can make sure that your designs and ideas can be bought into the real world in just a few days. This gives you the opportunity to physically review the design and functionality of your product before it is sent off for mass production. If you do not have the tools, look to your vendors to get some free consulting to give you some help in this area.

2. Create digital twins

Create a digital twin of each new product or offering. A digital twin is a virtual representation that serves as the real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process. NASA is credited with pioneering the concept. You can think of digital twins of products (CAD files) or digital twins of processes (MES).

These digital twins are the building blocks of a digital product catalog, and you NEED a digital catalog! Here are some reasons:

  • If you can’t put it on the website, prospects won’t see it and you won’t get any sales.  
  • Design is an asset – publish a cool rendering on your site,even if you haven’t made the thing – and see how many clicks it gets!
  • Get to new markets. Digitizing your product or service catalog allows you to easily get into bigger markets: you’ll speak their language.  
  • Digital systems are the only means to regulatory compliance. If you want NADCAP, or ISO, or any of the other certs, you gotta go digital.

Use CAD software to create and manage digital versions of your products and processes – making collaboration with others easier. You can find systems that combine generative engineering, simulation, and 3D print preparation in one software package.  Don’t know where to start? Check this out:

Don’t be afraid of asking lots of software sales guys into your shop – think of it as free consulting.

3. Reduce the number of systems in use

If every one of your design engineers has a favorite CAD system, chances are they don’t work together. If you can’t easily move your design CAD files into your MOM or MES, then you’ve got a problem.  

Again, ask your new software sales friends to help you here. There’s no need to pay for interfaces between systems, pick mature products and they should have a robust set of standard interfaces for you. And then play them off each other when the final tally is due.

4. Put your unfinished designs on your website

Use prototyping to explore more than just DFM, use it to do DFS (Design For Sales)! If you’ve got a rendering – put it on your website! See if you can sell it before you make it.

5. Get smarter

Add intelligence to your products: add sensors, cameras, anything that causes the product to interact with its environment (you or your customer) and increase your product or process’s value.

You want to end this phase with new products that have been market-tested. You’ll know if there is interest if you’ve got inquiries from your website. If you’ve made a digital twin, it’ll be that much easier to put it into production.

SO, if you were to do all these 5 concrete things to increase your digital footprint, you’ll gain the following benefits and stay out of the trough of despair.

  • Faster time to market – a digital twin will translate to the shop floor and to sales more easily than a paper- or PDF-based one will.
  • Reduced risk – if you put the new renderings on your site, you’ll know that much sooner if your new idea is a bust or a bonus.
  • More digitization – people will like you better!  People will want to work for you more, because you are using interesting tools and technologies. People will want to collaborate more, because you have a digital twin that is easy to share on others’ sites.  

If you digitize your footprint, you can transfer your designs more quickly to your vendors, your customers and your shop floor, and you can get more value for your work. And if you are suffering from a serious lack of labor, adding interesting tools and techniques can attract more talent to your shop!!!

My next blog gives some ideas of how to make sure your manufacturing floor can keep you smarter and out of the trough of despair.


1 thought on “How to stay out of the trough of despair (part 1 of 3): 6 ways to make sure your new ideas can shine in today’s online B2B world”

  1. Pingback: How to stay out of the trough of despair (part 2 of 3): 5 ways get more intelligence out of your shop floor and 2 things you shouldn’t have to worry about | HeyScottie

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