Success Factors for the Continuous Networking of Information in Product Development




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WZL publishes results report on Digital Product Development Study

  Symbol image Which methods, structures and processes are particularly successful in systematic implementation and execution in the area of digital product development?

The Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of the RWTH Aachen University, together with the Complexity Management Academy CMA and the VDMA, published the results report of its benchmarking study "Digital Product Development". The aim of the benchmarking project was to identify particularly successful methods, structures and processes in the systematic implementation and realization of digital product development. Digital product development refers to the end-to-end networking of information in product development across the entire value chain.

"Digital consistency is essential for the Circular Economy of tomorrow. The study has shown the path that companies can take," says Prof. Dr. Günther Schuh, Chair of Production Systems at the WZL.

The results of the study are based on responses from over 100 industrial companies as well as visits to the five "Successful Practice companies" CLAAS, Mosca, Vaillant, Wilo and 3M. The report presents an excerpt of the study's key findings and provides case studies of the companies visited. It offers insights into the steps required to successfully shape the transformation towards digital product development.

The project began in December 2021 with the elaboration of the current challenges in digital product development. To this end, the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering WZL of the RWTH Aachen worked closely with the Complexity Management Academy and the consortium of industrial companies. Members of the consortium were BITZER, BRP-Rotax, Grohe, Hettich Group, HÜBNER Group, John Deere, Oerlikon, RENOLIT, Syntegon and the VDMA as partner of the study. Based on these challenges, a questionnaire was created and distributed in the industry. In addition to idea generation, product design and result validation, the organizational and technical requirements for the successful digitization of product development were addressed.

115 companies completed the questionnaire, forming the basis for the benchmarking. An extensive screening of 31 top performers resulted in the 11 most promising candidates, which were presented to the consortium partners during the "review meeting" in June 2022 to identify the sought-after five Successful Practice companies. A highlight of the study were the subsequent visits of the consortium to the selected companies in the period from September to October 2022, where their methods, structures and processes regarding digital product development were analyzed and reflected.

At the final conference on November 3, 2022, the project findings were presented by the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of the RWTH Aachen in the form of 12 key success factors regarding the implementation of digital product development after which the five Successful Practice companies CLAAS, Mosca, Vaillant, Wilo and 3M received their awards.

The results report is available for free download on the benchmarking project website.