Report: Hardware Suppliers Prioritize Speed, But Struggle To Achieve It

Fictiv just released the results from its survey of more than 1,000 hardware supplier stakeholders across 72 industries, with most saying outdated manufacturing standards and technologies constrain domestic production and delay time to market. See the key takeaways here.

SAN FRANCISCO — Fictiv released their third annual State of Hardware Report on Tuesday. This year’s survey polled 1,136 developers and manufacturers spanning 72 industries to provide detailed data-driven insights uncovering the most critical challenges and opportunities for more streamlined collaboration throughout the manufacturing process. Ultimately, the report found that the manufacturing industry must take significant strides towards more technology-driven standards to keep up with the pace of innovation product teams demand.

“The State of Hardware report is part of our commitment to make hardware development easier and more accessible and to ultimately unleash the next wave of innovation in engineering and design,” said Dave Evans, co-founder and CEO of Fictiv. “By unlocking new information and insights about product development and manufacturing trends, we can help engineers and designers deepen their understanding of their fields and accelerate the shift to a more modern tech-enabled global manufacturing process.”

Results from the survey suggest that while speed to market is a top priority for developers, there are a number of inefficiencies that constrain the process of moving from digital to physical quickly.  Most urgently, hardware developers are increasingly relying on nearshoring for earlier stage projects because of short timelines. However, local manufacturing capacity remains limited and those that can support projects are constrained by a lack of technology to efficiently meet project deadlines. Despite challenges, 2017 gains in orders and production capped the strongest year for American factories since 2004, highlighting an opportunity to strengthen domestic supply chains for faster, more efficient product development cycles.

These local limitations are contributing to an overall delay in project turnarounds for broader manufacturing needs. Inefficient processes and technologies are forcing personnel to perform redundant roles and activities, extending manufacturing timelines unnecessarily. In fact, this year’s survey showed that 42% of manufacturers report 8 or more business days as typical turnaround time for low volume CNC machined prototypes. Much of this due to inefficient communications and management systems, and 75% of manufacturing personnel reporting that they perform 3 or more roles in their organization.

“Manufacturing continues to be an outdated process that is increasingly in need of the digitization that has already swept through industries like transportation, grocery and hospitality,” continued Evans. “Fictiv believes that machine learning and the introduction of software platforms and systems to centralize communications will shave days - even weeks - off production timelines.”

Key insights gathered from the survey include:

  • Speed is a priority: To iterate on designs quickly, 71% of product teams say they depend  on external manufacturing shops with fast lead and response times as well as to expedite services;
  • Manufacturing runs on email: While most software development teams have moved beyond email-based communication systems to save time and improve efficiencies, 93% of product developers and 94% of manufacturers rely heavily on email, followed by phone, to discuss part designs and manufacturability - leading to unnecessary production delays;.
  • Manufacturers are strained by limited resources: Although hardware teams rely on external shops to help them move quickly, shops are time and resource constrained as 75% of manufacturing personnel report that they perform three or more roles in their organization which limits their ability to deliver on speed;
  • Strong demands for domestic supply persists: Despite challenges, nearly half of developers (49%) say their external vendors for 3D printing or CNC machining are “Often or Always Local”, likely because of fast delivery times;
  • Communication lines are crossed: The survey revealed a wide gap in perceived manufacturing knowledge between engineers and manufacturers, as well as infrequent manufacturability feedback and common miscommunications with 66% of developers reporting  a miscommunication with a CNC machining or 3D printing shop in regard to design intent on a part and 74% of manufacturers reporting a similar miscommunication;
  • Complex communication delays projects: In addition to an array of challenges faced in communication workflows, the time it takes to communicate with stakeholders can also be significant, leading to project delays. In total, the survey showed that 76% of project delay problems might be addressed with better communication.

To learn more about Fictiv’s 2018 State of Hardware Report register for The State of Hardware: How Product Innovation is Demanding More from Traditional Manufacturing webinar, June 12, 2018, 12pm-1pm (PST), at or visit

About Fictiv

Fictiv is democratizing access to manufacturing, transforming how hardware teams design, develop and deliver physical products. Its virtual manufacturing platform pairs intelligent workflow and collaboration software with Fictiv’s global network of highly vetted manufacturers. From prototype to production, Fictiv helps hardware teams work efficiently and bring products to market faster.

More in Economy