Full citation

De Toni, A., & Nassimbeni, G. (2001). A Method for the Evaluation of Suppliers' Co-Design Effort.International Journal of Production Economics, 72(2), 169-180.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: This article discusses the importance supplier selection and the benefits of co-design. The objective of the study was to develop a tool to measure the supplier support. Fourteen criteria were identified and tested with one manufacturer and 16 suppliers. Each of the fourteen criteria was rated on a 5 point scale and given an importance weight by a panel of relevant associates from the manufacturing firm. The tool was found to be more helpful with monitoring suppliers instead of selection.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: Large business, Small business (less than 500 employees)

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Manufacturers

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Organization

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary Findings

Carrier: Failure mode effect analysis (FMEA) techniques help the design team to study the causes and effects of product failures. FMEA specifies the various conditions the product will endure, and tests, how it reacts under those conditions, allowing designers to plan a product that will withstand a broader range.
Experiential. Authors' knowledge.
Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 4.17, Tip 7.8, Tip 7.12, Step 9.2, Step 8.4

Measure: A fourteen item assessment tool regarding various support aspects provided by a supplier at different points of the New Product Development process including, the product concept and functional design, product structural design and engineering and process design and engineering. Each items is to be rated by the manufacturer on a scale of 1-5 on how well they provided that specific support and each item is assigned an importance weight by the manufacturer. A total score is calculated to reveal how supportive that supplier is to the assessing manufacturer.
Case Study.
Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 4.6

Method: Value analysis measures the degree of usefulness and the appreciation of the product by customers. The aim of VA is to manufacture a product at the lowest cost, but with the highest degree of all the functions appreciated by the customer and without those functions whose utility is not perceived. Cost evaluation is the object of value engineering (VE). It considers the materials to be used and the work to be done Function by function and component by component.
Experiential. Authors' knowledge
Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 4.1, Step 4.12


  • The contribution of the supplier in new product development (NPD) can, in fact, enable the buyer to: 1. Take advantage of the technological competence of the supplier. 2. Shorten the time to market. 3. Improve the quality and lower the global cost. 4. Increase the level of motivation of suppliers, because the suppliers become responsible for the whole product design and not just 'pieces' of it.
    Experiential. Authors' knowledge.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.6
  • In what way can the supplier help the buying firm to define the product specifications? First of all by identifying and calculating the importance and technological impact of each specification, estimating the cost linked to it and helping to modify those that contribute to additional costs. Moreover, the supplier can help formulate the specifications so that they: are expressed clearly and comprehensively; are sufficiently precise and rigorous; provide enough information for inspection and quality test purposes; and do not include unnecessary and nonessential features.
    Experiential. Authors' knowledge
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.12

Secondary Findings


  • Concurrent engineering (CE) suggests an 'integrated' design approach, that is, a co-ordinated effort of the various competencies and organizational functions involved in the development of new products. The main idea of concurrent engineering is to integrate all the functions involved in the project, including external ones, that is, suppliers and customers. The most widespread CE tools and techniques are: 1. Reduction of the number of parts, by product Modularization, Standardization of parts and project Simplification; 2. Manufacturability and assemblability, achieved using techniques such as design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for assembly (DFA); 3. Project schedule and development time reduction, where tools such as work breakdown structure (WBS) and overlapping (OL) can be helpful; 4. Product assessment, using failure mode effect analysis (FMEA) for example; 5. Customer satisfaction, evaluated by value analysis and engineering( VA/VE) tools. (De Toni, A., Nassimbeni, G. & Tonchia, S. [1999])
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.1
  • The sharing of designing responsibility and the exchange of information concerning the product has enabled the assemblers to improve time, cost, and quality performances. (Clark, K. & Fujimoto, T. [1991])
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.12, Step 4.6

Tip: Based on empirical data collected from 170 purchasing managers, Dickson identified quality, cost and delivery performance history as the three most important criteria in supplier selection. (Dickinson, G. W. [1966])
Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 4.6, Step 4.1