The digital revolution within the metalworking industry

The metalworking industry, like any other industry, is subject to change. In no smal part because of the digitalization of systems and processes. But also because of the increasing complexity of applications and processing methodologies.

The transition from 2D to 3D inquiries, and from single parts production to full assemblies, demands more of our people, systems and processes than the predominantly data driven ERP systems can sometimes handle.

To meet the demand for just-in-time production and delivery and to remain competitive against 3D hubs, Laser Hubs and, for example, Fractory, the metalworking industry must keep up with the times.

For it is “Digitize or Die”. The digital revolution within the metalworking industry is booming.

Digitize or die Quotation factory

Internal workflow automation starts with the quotation process

More and more companies within the metalworking industry are realizing that processing quotation inquiries is a too labour-intensive process. Estimating and re-estimating for days does not yet guarantee the order.

Some have integrated service as a business model for this reason. In other words, you have the client pay for the expertise needed and thus the quotation. Want een offerte omvat veel meer dan alleen de prijs en leverdatum.

Because a quotation includes much more than just the price and delivery date. Something few existing data-driven ERP systems can handle.

Because of the complexity of some metal operations and assemblies, there is a lot of manual work by skilled employees involved in preparing a quotation. This persons dependence on a few highly skilled employees, makes this a costly and time-consuming process.

The complexity of metalworking is increasing due to chain integrations

Within the digital revolution in the metalworking landscape, the complexity of chain integrations also plays an important role. This means on the one hand, the integration of processes and processing techniques of suppliers and on the other hand, the integration of customer needs through, for example, a customer portal.

What this era calls for is the integration of internal and external workflows and business-critical information that can be leveraged to create custom quotations. Something that has been technically possible for a long time already, but rarely used.

Companies must simplify the complexity of the quotation process through the use of automation for reasons of time savings, efficiency, consistency and competitiveness.

The bottleneck in quotation making is the erp system

For years, employees and the production and assembly staff have been able to benefit from the implemented ERP system. By having the desired data at one’s disposal more easily and by controlling the production or assembly process in an automated way, an enormous gain in time and efficiency could be achieved.

Sadly, progress is always outgunned by new insights and new advancements. ERP systems were designed in the 1990s for company-wide process optimization, but they are now bumping up against their own limitations. This is due to the focus on static processes.

ERP systems are ideally suited for streamlining standard processes. What they have much more trouble with are exceptions and metadata. They are allergic to variables, so to speak, because they were never intended for this.

This makes ERP systems bump up against their own limitations due to the increasing complexity of metalworking. Something the average metalworking employee can often attest to.

The cloud offers solutions for the digital metalworking revolution

Thanks to the cloud, we don’t need to make existing (ERP) systems more intelligent than what they are intended for. This can be done, but often creates additional problems. After all, you can’t just transform a shipping container into a speedboat.

The cloud allows us to add intelligence to existing (ERP) systems, without affecting existing processes and workflows.

This can be done by working with so-called “digital twins”. Business-critical information is hereby stored in the cloud as well as within the (ERP) system, after which both additional information and new intelligence can be added and exploited.

As a result, the software in the cloud has access to information about machines, estimators, nesters, users, calculators and much more, from both its own company and other companies within the chain. This is the NEXT STEP when it comes to the digital revolution within the metalworking industry, because unprecedented opportunities are suddenly within reach.

The future of the metalworking industry

The future of the metalworking industry, and the very existence of today’s players, will be determined in part by the applications enabled by software in the cloud.

Imagine if you could upload everything you could draw in any CAD package with 1 press of a button and it would automatically produce detailed components and complicated assemblies workflows.

Not only that, as price estimations and material suggestions are automatically provided based on data from own systems and affiliated partners. Right away there is insight into the BoM and BoL, and after a few adjustments, such as the desired margin or delivery time, a customized quotation is generated.

It can even go a step further, where through Blockchain technology certain certified materials or processing techniques are guaranteed and with neural networks, price estimates are tested against demand, supply and possible competition.

Thanks to this type of software in the cloud, the lead time of a metalworking quotation can be reduced from several days to minutes or a couple of hours. In addition, quotations are more consistent, contain fewer errors, and are no longer dependent on the person making the quotation.

The internal production and processing department and those of affiliated partners will also benefit enormously from this type of software in the cloud. Processes are controlled more accurately and the risk of errors is greatly reduced.

The contribution of the Quotation Factory to the digitization of the metal industry.

This ideal world seems a long way off, but it already exists today. The vision of the Quotation Factory is that skilled metal workers only need to use their talents when it comes to very complex metal productions or assemblies. Meaning, the exceptions.

Our mission is to contribute to the digitalization of the metal industry by simplifying the complexity of metalworking quotations and the flow of production thanks to software in the cloud.

Affordable for everyone, this is why we have built the Quotation Factory. Quotation software in the cloud.

Let’s simplify quoting.

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