Contributing factors are reported to include engineering inefficiency, low adoption of technology

 PALO ALTO, Calif.—A survey completed by Instrumental is reported to have found that in the past five years, 43 percent of new electronic products have missed their initial launch dates. Instrumental, the developer of a manufacturing optimization platform designed to help engineers eliminate inefficiencies, said in a release that the data indicated a long-term industry failure to adapt to the intensifying forces of increasing product complexity, faster delivery timelines, and increased supply chain volatility.

The study, Instrumental’s State of New Product Introduction (NPI) Survey, gathered feedback from more than 100 leaders in electronics design, manufacturing, and engineering to identify trends, changes, challenges, and industry innovation that arose as a result of the 2020 pandemic.

A key takeaway from the survey, according to Instrumental, is that the inefficiencies plaguing electronics manufacturing existed before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and have further worsened during it. Leaders also reported that engineering capacity is a massive problem. Many said engineering bandwidth and head count is as significant a threat to program delivery as supply chain disruption, even at a time when supply chains are seeing historically high volatility. When breaking down engineering time, teams reported that 76 percent of engineering time is spent on non-engineering tasks, such as inefficient communication, reactive issue discovery, and stakeholder management, Instrumental said in the release.

Another key takeaway is that leaders have struggled to deploy technology to expand engineering capacity. Despite acknowledging the need for improved engineering capacity, most organizations are lagging when it comes to adopting technology that could automate time-consuming development tasks, such as forensics and data analysis. Only 10 percent of teams reported using an AI-based defect detection system, and more than 91 percent still rely primarily on spreadsheets for things like task tracking and analysis, the company said.

“If there’s one takeaway from the 2021 State of Electronics NPI, it’s clear that 2021 is presenting an opportunity for electronics brands to leapfrog their competitors by updating their product development processes to truly embrace new technologies that let them do more with existing engineering teams,” said Instrumental Co-founder and CEO Anna-Katrina Shedletsky, in the release.

The report is also said to have found that when planning for NPIs this year, respondents are most concerned with hiring and improving existing teams. Of those who participated in the study, 65.43 percent reported they are focused on improving engineering efficiency, and 50.62 percent of respondents said they are planning to explore suppliers or contract manufacturers in a new region, according to the release.

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