Even if you’ve never heard of Parker’s Simple by Design™ framework before today, you might have a sense of what it entails. It sounds like it could be a New Year’s Resolution or a personal philosophy, but as an important new element of Parker’s Winovation process, it’s more than that. It’s our key to streamlined innovation.
Launched in 2020, Simple by Design™ aims to reduce design complexity and improve production flow—in new and existing product lines alike. It positions Parker as a more sustainable business, improving both customer value and design excellence. And it represents a focus on product stewardship that aligns with Parker’s goal to support customers with smarter, more efficient and sustainable solutions.
One outstanding example is the Filtration Group’s recent fuel filtration media consolidation initiative. Over time, as a result of various acquisitions and relationships with OEMs with their own specific requirements, the raw material needs for the group had become unwieldy. So had the supply base.
“The layers just kept building up,” explains Jack Su, the supply chain leader responsible for global filter media purchases in the Filtration Group. “As we started to look at our portfolio, at fuel filtration media on a global scale, we knew we needed to simplify.”
The Parker Filtration Innovation Center, a dedicated technical research and development facility located in Columbia, Tennessee, first began developing a single high-efficiency, low-restriction fuel filtration media with waterproof properties that could meet minimum requirements across the board.
The team also developed a proprietary database of media grades across the industry to enable faster product development for the five North American and European divisions within Parker that source fuel filtration solutions from the Filtration Group.
“Obviously you want to satisfy your customers. But it’s also about being in a better position to help your teammates around the globe,” adds Jonathan George, filter media applications manager. “Fuel filtration sounds like something you don’t need to think about, but if the filter isn’t protecting the engine, then trucks don’t run from point A to point B.”
Next, the team worked on reducing the amount of time media spent traveling in shipping containers from Europe to Asia to North America. They began sourcing through suppliers who could provide the same media locally, which resulted in shorter lead times, more secure delivery and operational efficiencies such as fewer set-up changes and better inventory management.
“The real breakthrough was the cross-functional and cross-divisional coordination,” says Su. “Within a single division, it’s not as difficult to find opportunities to pare down. But when you start crossing divisions and geographic regions, it requires tremendous alignment in both engineering and supply.”
This simplification initiative enabled the Filtration Group to optimize its supply chain and continue shipping product to customers during a time of global supply chain disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The consolidation also won a prestigious Parker Mousetrap Award, an annual recognition of the company’s top engineering projects, for Simple by Design. This new category added in 2021 recognizes solutions that most effectively reduce cost and complexity throughout the design and development process.
“It feels fabulous to win,” says George. “Achieving that alignment and building confidence in the database, in the process and the team is the greatest outcome. We’re working together more closely than ever and have never had such global alignment as we do today.”