It is time for an update, because the Quotation Factory is in full swing. Where are we now and where are we going? What have we done and what are we going to do? And, more importantly, what do these developments mean for our clients in the metalworking industry? In this newsletter, we look back and, more importantly, ahead.
The Quotation Factory is crossing borders! This year, we started selling our software solution in new regions. Especially in Germany and England, we have gained a foothold. This has shown that a large proportion of metalworking companies based there work predominantly with 2D input and not, like our Dutch customers, with 3D models.
So the markets of our neighbouring countries are lagging behind. This means that we are more or less forced to improve our 2D support as well, although this does not exactly fit in with our vision. Ideally, we would like not to have to include 2D processing in our services at all, but unfortunately the market is not advanced enough yet in terms of digitisation.
We are responding to it in the best possible way. For instance, we will build facilities to derive valuable PMI data, the 2D model and maybe even the 3D model from working drawings. This is not only good for tapping a new market, but also for our current customers. They will get 3D models with drawings attached in PDF format, from which they can derive tolerance info, material designations and dimensions and incorporate them into quotations.
Addition to the world of turning and milling
Another acquisition is on the way. Currently, the Quotation Factory has a good solution for metalworkers who mainly work with a combination of sheets, tubes and beams and perform a multitude of operations on them. However, we cannot yet support turning and milling work. We will change this in the near future.
We expect to have the first working version of the integration providing this support by the beginning of next year. Customers are already noticing benefits from this, as our solution already recognises turning and milling. We just cannot yet extract the features to make production estimates. We are therefore working with third parties to create integrations so that we can also fully serve the turning and milling world from the middle of next year.
Algorithms for surface treatments
We also have good news for surface treatment companies. We enable those companies to efficiently produce quotations of both subassemblies and complete assemblies. To this end, we have written certain algorithms and implemented them in our solution. In the short term, we will test these with a select number of factories that do surface treatments.
Fast and flexible determination of residual parts
There are other developments that will be our focus for the rest of this year. For starters, we are currently creating algorithms to determine residual pieces. Until now, our nesting engine was not only responsible for nesting, but also for determining the residuals. Now we are going to create the algorithms that can do that ourselves.
This brings great benefits to our users. There are four strategies for dealing with residuals and they are all separate algorithms. We will soon be able to apply these separately from the nesting process. This will give Quotation Factory users much more flexibility to decide manually which strategy to apply, without having to start up the time-consuming nesting engine each time. Not for nothing is this a much requested feature among our customers. We expect to have developed the perfect solution this year.
Self-service portal improvements
The self-service portal will also have our explicit attention in the coming period. Important, because at least a third of our current customers want to be able to offer this solution to their own customers. In recent months, we have already made major improvements to the self-service portal. Two features are still missing.
The first new feature is that you can invite your self-service customers in your own house style. What is currently a standard e-mail, you will soon be able to customise in factory-specific texts. The other improvement is that we will make the invitation process suitable for the B2C market. Currently, metalworkers can only offer the self-service portal to customers registered in their ERP system. But soon, end customers will be able to register themselves and request a quote directly. Nice improvements, if we may be so bold.
Outsourcing and full quotation (sub)assemblies
Of course, we are also looking forward to next year. Our focus then will be on at least two major themes: outsourcing and being able to offer fully-fledged subassemblies and assemblies. The first theme mainly involves outsourcing operations that you, as a metalworker, do not perform yourself, or certain types of material that you do not process yourself but a partner does. Soon we will be able to include those in our solution.
At the same time, this will be the first step towards making the platform ultimately suitable for machine builders. In the near future, they will be able to collaborate with various metalworking factories much more easily via the Quotation Factory platform. And this will also make the platform suitable for our customers who have several factories under one brand name: multifactories.
Estimation of delivery dates
The third theme that will have our attention in 2023 is the ability to accurately estimate delivery dates. The end customer will soon be able to specify his desired delivery time and, based on the production planning, you as a metalworker can then estimate the feasible delivery date. Our platform will then also make it possible to make combinations with outsourcing, so that supplier delivery times have been taken into account when estimating the feasible delivery date.
More valuable integrations
Last but not least: we continue to develop valuable integrations. Nice results so far include our integrations with ERP and CAM systems. For example, our platform integrates seamlessly with Bystronic, Trumpf and recently also Lantech. In addition, ERP integrations already exist with the most common systems, such as Ridder iQ, Bemet, ISAH and MKG. The upcoming integrations can be linked to systems such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP and common systems in Germany and the UK.
Thanks to all these developments, the Quotation Factory platform has become much more than a quotation system. It not only improves the productivity and quality of the metalworkers’ sales department, but especially that of the work preparation department. And that makes the platform an enabler for extensive digitalisation of your factory.