In part one of this series, we saw how a well designed hardware supply chain could help you reduce costs, optimize production, and avoid quality control issues. But, apart from the immediate financial gains, there are also less tangible benefits. Technical companies rely on hardware to provide a consistent customer experience. A robust supply chain enables regular hardware upgrades to meet the demands of a growing user base extending your product lifecycle.

As we mentioned in part one, a supply chain is more than a group of vendors. In fact, at a high level, you could break down a supply chain into three main components: material, cycle time, and capacity. The supply chain manager has to ensure enough material is available to finish builds, that cycle time matches up with company forecasts, and that they have the workforce to complete the work on schedule.

Your supply chain can become quite complex when you examine metrics like lead time, manufacturing time, etc. However, considering the supply chain as a whole can help you focus on key components. One such component is the customer segment.

First, Understand the Customer Segment To Build an Effective Supply Chain

One of the challenges in building a hardware supply chain is understanding the goal of the finished product. Think about a CDN provider for a moment. What do their customers care about? They want the network to be reliable (100% of the time) and fast. The CDN provider knows that if networks go down, customers could start looking elsewhere for service.

How does knowing this help you build a better supply chain? In the case of the CDN, you’ll choose components that help keep networks reliable and plan for upgrades that help networks keep up with growing data usage. As you can see, once you understand your customer, it’s possible to shape your supply chain.

A well-chosen supply chain partner will enable you to service your hardware with ease. Forward stocking locations allow your partner to quickly fix cdn servers regardless of their location — reducing downtime from days to mere hours in many cases. However, there are other factors to consider besides maintenance and servicing.

To find the right hardware components during design, a manufacturer will likely test many different SKUs. This process takes time and resources. That’s why it’s essential to understand how changes can impact your supply chain.

Your supply chain partner can likely adapt to changes you make to your hardware, but there are reasons to tread lightly when making such changes. The more often you change, the more financial and quality risk you’ll have to handle. Why?

This is because change means work. Think of all the field replacements and changes to field repair that come up every time you switch out a component, not to mention training. Change is important, but to avoid unnecessary disruption, you want to make sure you’re choosing the right hardware components from day one.

To help you combat change risk, look for a partner who has a solid product lifecycle management process. This means your partner will help set up the build, test the hardware for quality and compatibility, and have qualified engineers work on performance testing. Essentially, they’ll help you vet new hardware, reducing hardware that’s DOA and the need for field repairs.

That said, you may have a concept or solution you’re looking for and want to consider unique options that will give you a competitive edge. Again, a partner with a solid engineering team can help you build something unique that you can’t find on the market. If you’ve decided that you need to change to keep your competitive edge, make it seamless by choosing the right partner.

Make Change Automatic

Making changes is a part of staying competitive in today’s aggressive technological environment. The right technology can be the difference-maker for all kinds of tech firms, from the CDN provider who wants to ensure their hardware can handle increasing server loads to the primetime streaming provider who needs to ensure a frictionless experience for their customers.

Equus Compute Solutions can help you make change easy. From the moment we receive the engineering change order, our clients are confident that their vision will soon become a reality. We build it, test it, and leverage our supply chain expertise to make that change seamless. We also provide feedback to help our clients continually fine-tune their supply chain. Do you want full-cycle manufacturing management? Talk to one of our experts today. 

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