New Product Introduction (NPI) is one of the most important processes we execute at Unimacts. This is the heavy lifting and INVESTMENT work we lead: from receipt of initial PO to first article approval.
We call this a major “investment” phase, because it requires a large amount of time and money to do it right, but if done right, it pays dividends, in so many ways, for years. Well executed NPI pays dividends for the parts we are launching, for our customers in general, for our suppliers in general and therefore for Unimacts.
We start with detailed project management. We start with an aggressive, but achievable plan. We do our best to push back on our customers and not let them force us into committing to an unrealistic date. Everyone needs every project done yesterday, but we need it done right – safely, with quality and to meet our commitments. That being said, we do this enough, and our suppliers are experienced enough with our processes, where we can often execute the process correctly in the same time (or even less) than others who don’t do it right.
The key piece of the project is the manufacturing and quality process documentation. We take the time to get the process flows and the details correct. To really think through them. To engineer them. To tool up properly. And to test them. Our standard NPI documentation is similar to typical AIAG PPAP documentation. We have done this enough times for enough customers where we believe our documentation is somewhat of an industry best practice. But we are happy to follow whatever documentation our customer needs.
In our NPI process, we not only do the work with our main factory, but we also often go up the supply chain – e.g. we will execute the NPI process with the foundry supplying the casting to our machine shop.
Unimacts is responsible/accountable for owning and managing the process, but our customers are always welcome to join in on any part of the process, audit our processes, review our documents, audit our supply factories, our sub-suppliers, etc.