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Supplier Risks with OEM Model Based Definition (MBD)

MBD is Growing Among OEMs, and their Suppliers Often Need to Adapt

MBD is being adopted by many OEMs because of dramatic improvements in cycle times and costs. An NIST study showed a 78% reduction in cycle times (1), while a Lifecycle Insights survey found a 39% reduction of scrap, 49% reduction in non-conformances, and 41% reduction in engineering change orders (2).

Given these results it is not surprising that 54% of manufacturers are moving towards MBD and its 3D digital product models, while another 12% have fully completed the transition (2). Typically OEMs are the first to move into MBD, followed by their Suppliers who must adopt it to work with the OEM.

However, Suppliers often do not have the software and process to consume OEM digital product models, which leaves them without the ability to 1) quote work 2) properly manufacture parts 3) inspect finished parts to the design intent. Fortunately, Suppliers can take cost-effective actions to thrive in the MBD world – and win more business

How OEMs use MBD

Under MBD the Design Engineering function creates a 3D digital product model which contains all requirements and specifications for Manufacturing, Inspection, and Test applications. The 3D digital model contains Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) including geometries, tolerances, material requirements, components, process requirements, and inspection specifications.

The digital model and PMI are immediately usable by downstream applications and people. When compared to traditional document-based design, MBD is more efficient because 1) the data needed to design, build, and test a product is created once 2) PMI can be read by applications which enable automation 3) engineers receive comprehensive product information which reduces misunderstandings and defects.

“The OEM MBD product model may be incompatible for the Supplier”

When MBD Doesn’t Work for Suppliers to OEMs

Often the 3D digital product model is designed for an OEM’s internal processes, but it may be incompatible with the Supplier’s software and processes. Therefore, the Supplier typically cannot fully use the 3D digital product model and PMI, which causes the following problems:

  1. Inaccurate or ‘No quote’ bids: Absent or misinterpreted data prevents precise quotes

  2. Delays: Supplier can't efficiently parse the design to internal partners or Sub-suppliers

  3. Defects and turnbacks: Manufacturing and inspection processes might not fully consume the MBD resulting in missed requirements

DAA’s analysis shows that even when an OEM converts their 3D product model to a neutral file format, the Supplier still may not be able to utilize all the information contained in the definition.

"Suppliers should convert the OEM MBD product model into a usable format"

Practical MBD Solutions for Suppliers

Suppliers should convert the OEM 3D digital product model to a format which is usable by their software and processes. This can be accomplished by:

Design translation process: This allows a Supplier to convert the OEM’s 3D product model into a format usable by the Supplier’s existing CAD – usually how the Supplier receives the OEM design. This requires a consultant who understands the OEM 3D digital product model and the Supplier’s Design software and process, and requires an off-the-shelf translation application to be configured for the Supplier.

Under this option the Supplier’s existing process is largely maintained, and the development cost is modest. However, the translation application and process need to be updated every time the OEM’s CAD is updated, and the Supplier cannot participate in the benefits of MBD.

Compatible OEM and Supplier software: The Supplier implements new CAD software and processes which correctly consume the OEM MBD. This requires a consultant who understands the available software applications which are compatible with the OEM 3D digital product model.

This enables the Supplier to achieve a ‘digital thread’ where an OEM and Supplier seamlessly exchange data. It also provides the Supplier with the first step towards implementing MBD internally. However, implementing new CAD software can be disruptive to a Supplier’s processes.

"DAA has worked with MBD for more than 20 years"

How DAA can Help

DAA works with Suppliers to ensure they can consume their OEM’s MBD product designs. By leveraging more than 20 years’ experience with MBD, DAA helps OEMs and Suppliers evaluate their unique processes, co-develop cost-effective options, and fully implement a solution - with an ROI which is easy to approve.

Want to learn more? Contact DAA at or 860-394-7861.


(1). Testing the Digital Thread in Support of Model-Based Manufacturing and Inspection, JCISE-15-1415, Hedberg,

(2). The Role of MBD, Lifecycle Insights, 2017

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