The Challenges of Supply Chain Management

There are several typical difficulties associated with managing a supply chain.

  • Greater dependence on the supply chain and the performance of the suppliers
  • Increased quality compliance expectations with AS9100, ISO 16949, or ISO 13485
  • Costly to manage supplier performance and make frequent visits to supplier locations
  • Lack of clear visibility into supplier technical capabilities, part status, and risk areas

Typical Technical Data Package (TDP) & Supply Chain Flow

The TDP consists of many documents that define expectations for a part or assembly.

  • Purchase Order
  • Part Model or Drawing
  • Supplemental Requirements
  • Process Specification
  • Material Specification

The TDP is a key part of the business relationship between the prime and suppliers and there is a lot of time & labor that goes into creating, consuming, and sharing the TDP.

Furthermore, the TDP is integral to manufacturing and quality engineering procedures. Many manufacturing and quality-related business processes are dependent upon identifying characteristics in the TDP, including:

  • First Article Inspection
  • Inspection Planning
  • Process Planning
  • Producibility Analysis

Keys to Technical Management of Supply Chain

Any solution to supply chain management will adhere to the following key principles:

  • Collaborate by creating an intelligent Tech Data Package with a Bill of Characteristics
  • Provide tools to easily create the intelligent TDP from 2D drawings as well as 3D models
  • Support efficient methods for complying with inspection reporting standards (e.g., AS9102)
  • Connect via the web for managing workflow, consolidating data, and analyzing performance
  • Avoid expensive information technology and complex implementations

DISCUS for a Supply Chain Solution

DISCUS provides a complete platform for organizing the technical data package and collaborating over the web on Intelligent TDP and FAI. There are three parts to the DISCUS platform:

  • DISCUS Desktop
  • DISCUS Server
  • DISCUS Connect

DISCUS Desktop generates the Bill of Characteristics and the Intelligent TDP to better define common expectations for each part.  DISCUS Connect with Home Page provides users with a specific dashboard of real-time metrics. Also, DISCUS Connect enables Quality Engineers to quickly check supplier performance for specific parts. Moreover, DISCUS Connect with Reports shows plans in comparison to actual measurements for FAI completions.

DISCUS Connect for Characteristic Accountability

Most importantly, DISCUS Connect allows very straight-forward process flow and collaboration between prime and suppliers, allowing for efficient and thorough characteristic accountability.  The DISCUS Connect process follows these steps:

  1. Setup Intelligent TDP in DISCUS (Supplier)
  2. Collaborate with Prime on TDP (Supplier)
  3. Review & Approve TDP (Prime)
  4. Enter FAI/SPC Results (Supplier)
  5. Check & Submit FAI/SPC (Supplier)
  6. Review & Approve FAI/SPC (Prime)

DISCUS Connect Summary

In conclusion, there are several significant, substantial benefits of managing the supply chain with DISCUS Connect.

  • Generate tangible benefits in less than a year
    • Reduces the cost of supply chain oversight and plant visits
    • Helps to identify and avoid quality escapes
    • Reduces the cost and time to complete an FAI report
  • A supply chain solution that suppliers are actually happy to use
    • Numerous organizations are already using DISCUS Desktop for Bill of Characteristics and FAI
    • DISCUS is recognized for the ability to reduce the cost for complying with the various quality standards
  • A flexible deployment that easily scales
    • Start with simple FAI document approach and then move to detailed characteristic management
    • Start with a single program and a few suppliers, and grow based on success
    • Software can be hosted or provided as enterprise solution for OEM