Case Study: Firewire Surfboards Lights up With CAD
- Analyze Firewire using the value chain and competitive forces models.
Firewire is an example of an innovative use of their information system to acquire a competitive advantage. They are using their online services to come up with new product ideas that others competitors are not yet aware of. Their customers seem to like their new products and services. Firewire is keeping intact its existing customers and reaching out to other potential customers effectively. Their newly organized CAD (Computer-Aided Drafting) system has enabled Firewire to get ahead of their competitors by offering their customers to suggest the designs they love. This has also made it possible for Firewire to improve their value chain where the customers can sit in their homes and transmit a design to the manufacturing plant from the company’s website. CAD is one of the many advantages of the affordable personal computers at home (Choi, 1997). The transmitted designs for the surfboards are fed into the machines that draw them. In my opinion, the CAD system is making a difference in product differentiation and improving the chain of basic activities.
- What strategies is Firewire using to differentiate its product, reach its customers, and persuade them to buy its products?
The main strategy Firewire is using is to offer their customers to customize the design of their surfboard. When they first installed their CAD system, it helped them reduce their work by hand and made the designing system more automated. The computer-aided manufacturing process completed the surfboard design with an 85-90% accuracy. This is where Firewire’s administration decided that they need to involve their customers in the manufacturing process at its starting end. Firewire has also introduced an advanced 3D CAD application that the customers can use to be more innovative with their surfboard designs. CAD has the capacity to provide data for 3D printing which is named as additive manufacturing (Laudon & Laudon, 2012, p. 459). Their customers can also interact with other surfers who are online. They can discuss their designs with each other and suggest improvements. After the customers have made a decision about the design of their choice and the surfboard is ready and delivered to their doorstep, they can go online and share their wonderful experience with other surfers. The social networking aspect of the design process is really important to create customer’s interest in Firewire’s products. The customers can also communicate with the company when they are at the designing stage. This whole process creates a level of customer’s loyalty that is hard for the competitors to reach. This has a real positive impact on customer’s buying decision.
- What is the role of CAD in Firewire’s business model?
CAD is a system that allows the company to prepare a product that can be customized by the customers sitting at their homes from their computers. The CAS system adopted by Firewire has provided an opportunity to reach out to a larger audience who can decide the different dimensions of their surfboard with the help of Customers Board Design (CBD) System. Customers feel to be in control of the manufacturing process. When the customers are done with their design, a PDF file of the specifications of the surfboard is created. The customer can always login to Firewire and order another surfboard with the previous specifications
- How did the integration of online custom board design software (CBD), CAD, and computer numerical control (CNC) improve Firewire’s operations?
Firewire undoubtedly requires its various computer based applications to be synchronized to produce efficient results. In the case study it has be mentioned that the design and production system that is at work at Firewire produces a surfboard that is 97% complete. The system has reduced the work done with hands by 10% and has improved the time it takes to manufacture surfboards and the cost of each surfboard that is a major competitive advantage. The CAD system is highly customizable. The customers can look at the surfboard they design in 3D view. The CBD is responsible to produce an accurate design model of the CAD. The CNC machines are responsible for manufacturing the actual surfboards. It get the CAD model straight from CBD and the manufacturing process is carried out.