03 September 2015 //
by Toni Nigrelli-LaFleur
Most companies operate in silos, which often results in communication issues, particularly when it comes to introducing a new product and implementing it on the packaging line. This lack of communication can cause all departments involved to potentially miss critical deadlines, increase costs of new products, and delay product releases.
Having a good understanding of department responsibilities and maintaining open communication with all departments throughout the project is critical to new product development and a successful launch. However, in many companies if you were to ask an engineer, marketer, or plant manager/operations manager how they “feel” about their colleagues in engineering, marketing, or manufacturing/processing/operations, the typical response may be along the lines of:
- “I wish marketing would stop doing… ”
- “Engineering needs to start doing…”
- “Plant managers need to do more of…”
Understanding Roles and Responsibilities
Often, comments like those stated above stem from a misunderstanding of departmental roles and responsibilities as they relate to product development and launch. And while there are many smart business methodologies and approaches to better communication, such as creating cross-functional teams, it’s often best to start by putting ourselves in the others’ shoes.
Marketing/New Product Development
Marketing teams are often tasked with identifying areas of growth, which may include researching consumer trends and potential markets as well as forecasting potential product sales and profitability. Marketers are often eager to roll out a new product, especially after spending months researching and developing a plan.
Packaging Engineering/New Product Design Engineer
This is the engineer who has been tasked to create the perfect product that will meet the consumer needs identified by the marketing or new product development team. Creative and innovative, this person is challenged to align costs with business goals. This person is also typically responsible for identifying project phases and elements, assigning personnel to each phase and element, sourcing materials, and reviewing vendor quotes.
Plant Manager/Operations Manager
This person is tasked with making it all work effectively and efficiently. They, too, are challenged to align costs with business goals in addition to running the product and integrating it with the existing packaging or product line. The plant/operations manager is responsible for effectively utilizing the production capacity, labor, equipment, and outside resources. In order to maximize efficiency and profitability, the manager must have proper planning and scheduling skills.
Just by identifying and understanding people’s roles, many communication issues will be resolved for a product launch initiative. However, you’ll still need to be conscious of communication throughout the project to keep things flowing freely and will need to ask key questions at each phase along the way:
- What are the overall project goals?
- What resources will be required and what department will be responsible?
- What is a reasonable timeline that accommodates all departments?
- Is sourcing a vendor taking longer than expected?
- What is the critical path?
Product and Packaging Development
- Will the product require significant engineering time?
Packaging Equipment Decisions and Conversations with Manufacturer
- Will new product be able to run as part of your current manufacturing process?
- Will equipment need to be to be modified or upgraded?
- Will new equipment affect any upstream or downstream packaging equipment?
Packaging Equipment Installation
- When will the system be delivered?
- Does the production line need to be stopped for installation?
- How much time will it take for installation?
- Will product be required to run once the system is installed?
Asking these key questions at each phase and coming to a mutual agreement on the answers will further break down barriers and open lines of communications between departments. The result will be a new project launch that will go more smoothly while remaining on schedule and within budget.
When your team is ready to talk about packaging equipment requirements for a new product launch, contact EDL Packaging Engineers. We’re here ready to help.