Posted by Kashyap Vyas on February 14th, 2017
For built-to-order or engineer-to-order product manufacturers, there is very little scope to differentiate in the competition. The only competing factors remain the pricing they offer to the customers and their ability to deliver the product within the deadlines. Industrial steel shelving falls into the same category of built-to-order, as each industrial shelf or rack system is required to be designed according to its specific application and space availability.
The design for warehouse shelves differ greatly from the racks and shelves used in the retail space. Further, these shelves comes with different types according to the rack arrangement which commonly include pallet racking, cantilever racking, sheet and board racking as well as vertical racking. With different types, materials and application, there are numerous configuration possibilities, putting a lot of pressure on the manufacturing team as they are required to prepare quote for each and every custom order.
In determining a quote that is optimal for both manufacturing and to the customer, the deadlines are often missed. Even if the manufacturer manages to win the business, the real problems start in comprehending the order and developing specific models, drawings and manufacturing documentation. The delay caused due to this directly affects the manufacturing quality, and in turn, causes a negative impact on the customer’s loyalty towards the brand.
The issue, however, can be resolved through the implementation of design automation right in the engineering stage using tools like DriveWorks.
DriveWorks is a highly productive tool utilized across multiple industries to automate the engineering, design and sales tasks of built-to-order products. The tool works on SolidWorks platform and helps the engineer to automate the 3D model development, drawings development and quote generation for each custom shelving order.
The manufacturer can experience significant productivity gains by automating repetitive design tasks, which otherwise cause unnecessary delay in the manufacturing and delivery. The process does however require capturing the design knowledge and possible configurations, in order to establish logic rules for each component of the rack. Establishing the range for load capacity, material type and foot options can be time consuming, but once the process is set, the changes will be minimal.
Customers looking for shelves would then simply feed the information through an interactive form, where they can virtually see how the shelf will look and fit within the given room area. Embedding pricing information further provides the customer with the cost of purchasing his configured shelf.
At the manufacturer’s end, the confirmed customer order can be processed with few clicks to generate CAD models, drawings and other manufacturing documentation for the production team. The automation thus frees up the engineering and manufacturing team from performing repetitive tasks. The quote generation process is automatic and quick, which improves the chances of winning the contract or bid.
At the manufacturing floor, the drawings and models remain free from errors, since there is hardly any manual intervention involved in generating the design information. This provides more time for the team to focus on improving the design or adding additional accessories.
In a highly competitive market, industrial shelving and rack system manufacturers can remain highly productive and expect profitable business through implementation of design automation tools like DriveWorks.
Automating the engineering, design and sales processes not only helps the manufacturer to deliver on time, but also engages the customer with whatever he is buying. The interactive configuration process assures the customer about how exactly the shelf will look and fit in the available space.
The manufacturer certainly can differentiate amongst the competitors with this new capability and invite new business opportunities that can be addressed efficiently to ascertain maximum profit.
About Author: Kashyap Vyas is an Engineer at Hi-Tech and holds a Master’s degree in Thermal Engineering with several research papers to his credit. He covers CAD and CAE topics for the engineering industry. His contributions are primarily focused on encouraging manufacturers and suppliers to adopt virtual product development tools to build efficient products with reduced time-to-market.