Posted by Kashyap Vyas on February 1st, 2017
Globally, manufacturers of engineered-to-order (ETO) products face the common challenge of responding to customer inquiries on time and that too with accurate quotes. The obvious reason for the delay is due to the time consumed in developing custom design for each different customer specification and later figuring out the cost involved to finally settle on to a promising quote. The overly conservative quoting process ends up with a frustrated customer or even at times increases the possibility of losing the order. The problem doesn’t end here.
Even if the manufacturer manages to win the business based on the manual quote, the manufacturing department will be idle, waiting for the drawings and technical documentation to actually develop the product. This adds to the time in product development process and extends till the shipment stage. The entire process result into a poor customer experience, eventually affecting the brand quality and customer’s loyalty towards the brand.
Automating the quotation process can actually solve the purpose and it is possible through DriveWorks that can be integrated with 3D CAD models of the product developed in SolidWorks. The tool allows manufacturer to configure the products and automate the generation of 3D models through logic rules as well as generation of sales, engineering and manufacturing documents. It also has an online sales configurator through which customers can directly configure their choice of product, get quotes and accurate delivery dates without any or little intervention from the sales team.
This sales configurator can also be used for guided selling to help customers in buying decisions based on their budget and requirements. Further, DriveWorks can be easily integrated with existing ERP and CRM systems, allowing manufacturer to establish a complete custom solution for each and every customer.
To understand the actual benefits, consider the real example of a leading hollow metal door manufacturer in US. Since each and every door is different in terms of overall dimensions, locking mechanisms and frame to mount on, the usual engineering time to take inputs from the customer and develop models, drawings and quotes out of it took 4-5 days on an average. Through the implementation of DriveWorks, the process of model development, drawings and sales documentation was automated.
The online sales configurator further enabled customers to place their orders directly and request quote for their customized door configuration. The process improvement resulted in a significant productivity increase and the engineering time was reduced to 10 minutes. The quotation process was quick and accurate, since pricing information was automatically determined depending on the configuration chosen by the customer. The manufacturer ultimately was able to deliver the custom door and frame to the customer on the same day of the order.
Automating repetitive design task and linking the same with quotation process ensures that ETO product manufacturers remain competitive and can respond to inquiries faster with better accuracy. A web based configurator further ensures that customers, suppliers and the internal departments altogether remain on the same page. Eventually, the productivity improvement helps the manufacturer to win more business and also provide better purchase experience to the end customer.
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.