Polaris expands VA/VE program globally with CoLab

Since 1954, Polaris has proudly defined, re-defined and then raised the bar again for the powersports industry. It is reflected in the innovation it brings to the products they design and experiences they create for all those who play, work and THINK OUTSIDE. Polaris focuses on staying ahead of their customers' needs. They continue to deliver through elevated experiences, inspirational brands and rider-driven innovations, backed by the best and brightest people in the industry. 

Using CoLab since
Use Case

The Challenge

By the time they met CoLab, the team at Polaris had been doing value analysis and value engineering (VA/VE) for a long time. They followed an established process, relying on expert-led workshops with product engineering teams to hit cost down targets, solve sourcing challenges, and design better solutions for Polaris customers.

As Polaris began expanding their engineering and manufacturing footprint globally, they saw a need to adapt: “Global expansion of our team and facilities made it difficult to include everyone in in-person events,” says Engineering Manager Matt Robinson.

“There was a need for a centralized platform to get people in different time zones, different geographical locations brought into the discussions.”

By finding a solution to bring in global teams, Polaris also hoped to engage remote workers more effectively.

Global expansion was not the only source of complexity. Between competitive benchmarking and internal analysis of components, events took lots of planning, coordination, and investment. 

The team saw an opportunity to upgrade some of their more manual processes, allowing their technical staff to reinvest that effort into idea generation and execution.

The Solution

Once Polaris decided to roll out CoLab, they went to work implementing it in three ways:

  • To host virtual events to engage remote team members, while preparing the in-person team for a more thoughtful teardown
  • To document ideas generated during virtual and on-site events, simplifying idea execution
  • To automatically calculate the annualized savings of ideas and events, enabling fast prioritization

Virtual Events

Polaris now uses CoLab to kick off design to value (DTV) events - even ones with an in-person component - virtually. They can share all of the relevant 3D models and create packages of files with markup that draws the team’s attention to the right places: “We start the events in CoLab, so that we can include a lot of the non-local individuals,” explains Matt. “We’re able to have guest speakers within our organization – the experts within their area – speak to how they are approaching the design. We arm people with the knowledge that they need to go into the hands-on portion of the event and generate deeper ideas.”

The result is two-fold: first, the in-person events are faster and more productive, because team members can jump right into the teardown, having completed the preparation virtually. Second, the team generates more specific, actionable ideas:

“You might get a simple idea like: ‘Can we re-source this part here?’ ‘Can we evaluate this material here?’ Those are good surface level type ideas,” explains Matt.

“But when system experts come in on the front end and explain their design strategy – why they used certain materials, why they’re sourcing here – our team starts thinking past ‘Can we do this type of  idea?’ and thinking a little deeper into ‘We should do this.’”

Documenting and Tracking Ideas

During virtual events and after in-person events, teams track design ideas in CoLab. To log an idea, an engineer drops a pin on the 3D model and adds their commentary:

“If we’re leading a meeting, everybody can have CoLab open on their other screen at home,” explains Matt. “Everybody can pin ideas to the 3D models. It’s real-time, so you’re seeing ideas pop up on the screen, as people are talking through the models, the strategy. Seeing the dots pop up in CoLab during a virtual event is like posting a sticky note in-person, it’s a very similar thing.”

When someone drops a pin, CoLab automatically saves the view state of the model, the commentary, and the user who created the feedback. Accessing all this information is as easy as clicking the unique URL associated with the feedback. As a result, the team can understand and execute ideas faster, solving design challenges and capturing cost savings:

“Before, it was very much a breadcrumb trail. Some of the ideas were vague and difficult to understand. Once you removed a sticky note from the component, you lost a lot of the context of what somebody was talking about,” explains Matt. “With CoLab, the idea is pinned to the model and you know who to go ask if you have questions.”

Calculating Annualized Savings

When you create feedback in CoLab, you can add custom tags to filter, sort, and prioritize ideas later. Polaris takes advantage of feedback types to quantify the impact of each event and motivate the team. When leaving feedback on a model, if an engineer uses the “idea” feedback type, they have the option to include data like the estimated cost savings per unit and estimated annual usage (EAU) for a part. Using this data, CoLab automatically calculates the projected savings for each idea.

At the end of each event, the team reports out on the gross value or potential savings based on that event. The numbers are often very encouraging. Polaris hosts dozens of successful events each year. From a cost savings perspective, one of their best events of 2023 generated millions of dollars in projected savings.

The Impact

At the end of the day, Polaris’ VA/VE program is focused on helping product teams across the organization design better products and hit targets. By making their workshops and reviews more effective and more efficient, they’re able to help even more teams. That now includes global teams that were impossible to engage with the in-person only model.

“We’ve been able to more quickly align on needs,” says Matt. “So if there is a need: whether it’s cost savings, a sourcing initiative, you need a general understanding of new materials, or whatever it is – it has allowed us to more quickly align on the solution for those needs.”

The new way of working has also given the team the option to run smaller, faster events targeted at specific design challenges. Before, most events were larger and planned out months in advance. With CoLab, Polaris systems engineers now have the flexibility to run a workshop on a single subsystem or a single component: “We’ve been able to pull together these smaller type events that have really helped teams,” explains Matt. “It has streamlined the process to be able to meet quick needs.”

By tapping into more people’s ideas through virtual workshops and smaller scale events, Polaris is tapping into more creative solutions to challenges in both product development and sustaining engineering:

“It has increased our participation by globalizing these activities, rather than being held to a certain location or site,” says Matt. “It’s also an automation of a manual process: quicker reviews post-event. So it speeds us up and spreads us out!”

As a result, product programs across Polaris are capturing cost savings, sourcing parts more effectively, and leveraging new materials effectively in designs.

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  • Foster more meaningful design conversations by removing collaboration speedbumps
  • Keep your product team and your customers informed
  • Standardize your review process and track everything automatically
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