Making a physical product is always at risk of becoming a game of risk avoidance. Time and time again, we hear people in hardware manufacturing industries say ‘our production process is too expensive to change on a dime’. You know what’s more expensive, though? Not changing when you should.
Of course, it’s true that you won’t happily throw away hundreds of thousands worth in casting dies or millions in production lines, just because you had an epiphany. But that casting die and the assembly line aren’t where your product begins.
Pioneers in development
Like Robin Yeman of Lockheed Martin preached at our recent Agile 4 Hardware Amsterdam event, everything that happens ‘before you bend metal’ can be opened up to the Agile ways of working.
Pioneers in many different manufacturing industries have been exploring a wide range of ways to do just that: they just take care to keep their Agile improvements safely limited to the development phase.
Agile approaches to hardware development
Connecting multiple disciplines to enhance coherent engineering? Working in iterations to respond quickly to new insights? Preserving options and variability? These are things you can do in hardware engineering just like you can in software development.
Build mock-ups and prototypes using cheap materials to minimize waste in development; use 3d printing and continuous integration platforms to expose failure and learn quickly. If all these things are sounding new to you, then you might want to realize that they are likely to be growing in familiarity for your competitors.
We’d like to hear from you
Curious what you can do to learn about Agile and Lean approaches in a hardware production environment? Have a look, here. And we’re very curious to hear how your company is opening hardware environments to change: let us know in the comments!