The new year is almost upon us. What can customers expect from the Quotation Factory platform in 2023? A look ahead: these are the 5 most important upcoming developments.
In 2022, three Quotation Factory customers went live with a self-service portal. This is leading to great results. The figures show that, as a metalworker, you can triple to quadruple your turnover while even reducing the quoting workload. This is because a self-service portal forces you to automate the quotation process as much as possible. As a result, you can do ten times as much quotation work with the same amount of employees.
Ten more customers are expected to go live with a self-service portal in the first quarter of 2023 alone, which will even include the first customers in the UK and Germany. Our forecast is that many more parties will adopt self-service and even use it as a key digitalisation strategy (also read our blog Self-service as a digitalisation strategy).
Supply chain integration
Supply chain integration is hot. The Smart Connected Supplier Network (SCSN) enables more and more companies to connect to the network. However, the focus here is mainly on exchanging information about raw materials to be procured. For now, the SCSN is not yet far enough along to support complex messages so that metalworkers can smartly collaborate digitally with each other.
Through the Quotation Factory platform, we are going to ensure that all this will be possible already. Our first focus is to make it easier for surface finishers to collaborate with metalworkers. Next, we will make it possible for metalworkers to outsource operations to each other, such as a sheet metal worker outsourcing everything related to pipes or vice versa. The next step is for metalworkers to use self-service to implement a one-stop-shop model: a website where everything can be requested with, in the background, a network of cooperating parties who will organise it intelligently.
Estimating delivery date
In 2022, the Quotation Factory has made very nice strides in developing algorithms for estimating delivery dates. In collaboration with a university in Brazil, which has a library of estimation algorithms, we have completed the first proof of concept. This shows what can be done with those algorithms. From the second quarter of 2023, we will continue the collaboration and integrate the algorithms into our platform. That means the Quotation Factory platform will be able to make the three essential estimates needed for quoting: estimating production times, estimating material usage and estimating delivery dates.
Estimating welding is tricky. This is shown in a study we conducted in which more than ten companies participated. It shows that there is great diversity in how to estimate welding and that the necessary information is almost never present in designs. In other words, almost all metalworkers work with technical documentation that does not explicitly describe welding. As a result, they have to come up with that information themselves and sometimes even add it to those drawings.
It is clear there is a great need for capabilities to better estimate welding. So there is no doubt that we need to be able to support this within the Quotation Factory platform. That is why we developed algorithms in 2022 that can determine welding seams themselves from drawings. In other words, even if they are not drawn, these algorithms can still identify where those welds are.
But it won’t stop there. By 2023, we expect to be able to create a tool that allows metalworkers to add welding to a drawing very quickly. And with the explicit information about welding, our platform can make estimates of welding times. This will create support not only for estimating welds when they are drawn, but also when they are not. A double win, in other words.
Also forthcoming, and available from the first quarter of 2023, are new features that allow metalworkers to estimate their operations at the sub-assembly level. These include placing inserts, performing surface treatments of parts of the product and assembly operations such as screwing and mounting. Later in 2023, it will even be possible to configure the routes of subassemblies. What does that mean in concrete terms? For example, if a subassembly needs a surface treatment and you outsource that work, you can see that in its routing. At a later stage, it will also be possible to use such routes when estimating delivery dates.
And that’s not all…
The Quotation Factory keeps moving forward. We will be working on many more major and minor features in the coming year. For instance, we will expand the information available in business rules. We will also provide more detail on the features you can find in CAD drawings. So there are plenty of developments! The Quotation Factory platform will remain a solution for smart quoting, but will also grow into a platform that allows metalworkers to work together quickly and conveniently. Win-win!