Case Study 5-2 (Continued) process to find a way to go from design to prototype faster. The 25-person company adopted a similar system used by large, global manufacturers: product life cycle management (PLM) software. The research and development team had been using computer-aided design (CAD) software, but it took seven months to develop a new design, and if the design failed, starting over would be the only solution. This design approach was a drain not only on the company’s time but also on its finances. The design team found a PLM system that helped members analyze and model capabilities in a much more robust manner. The team used simulation capabilities to watch the impact of the new designs on rough mountain terrain. The software tracks all the variables the designers and engineers need so they can quickly and easily make adjustments to the design. The new system allows the team to run a simulation in a few minutes, representing a very large improvement over their previous design software, which took seven hours to run a simulation. The software was just one component of the new process design. The company also hired a new master frame builder to build and test prototypes in-house and invested in a van-size machine that can fabricate intricate parts for the prototypes, a process the company previously outsourced. The result was a significant decrease in its design-to-prototype process. What once averaged about 28 months from start of design to shipping of the new bike now takes 12 to 14 months. Santa Cruz has continued improving the technology of its bikes and it started offering a full range of high-end bicycles for women through its sister brand, Juliana.
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