Looking for estimators and work planners in the metal industry? Virtually impossible to do. The number of vacancies is large and then they are also open for a remarkably long time. Meanwhile, this is holding back the continued growth of many metalworkers. But it can be done differently thanks to new technology. An automated quotation platform is the solution. Too good to be true? Just read this blog.
It is a well-known problem for many metalworkers. Due to investments in more machines and more diverse operations, the quotation department can no longer manage to handle all requests quickly and accurately. The reason is obvious: there is an urgent shortage of estimators and work planners.
And this in a market where customers find it increasingly important to be able to see prices, conditions and delivery times immediately, so that they can then make a quick decision to order. That desired pace is currently a utopia for many metalworking companies.
t is searching for a needle in a haystack when it comes to qualified estimators and work planners.
Due to the shortage of estimators and work planners, the requesting party must wait days or sometimes weeks for a quotation. On the other hand, for the supplying party, it is the bottleneck for further growth.
You could do everything you can as a metalworker to look for ways to strengthen your team, but that would not bring any joy to anyone. It is almost impossible to find estimators and work planners who meet the requirements. College+ or Bachelor Degree level and if possible with years of experience on the clock. It is searching for a needle in a haystack.
Frustration among younger generations of estimators and work planners causes exodus
Is this a dying breed? In any case, there is a lot of natural lapse within companies, as experienced professionals often work in the estimating department of metalworkers. And they retire one day. If there are already younger estimators and work planners on the team, it is a difficult task to retain them. The question is how.
The answer lies in the field. Exponents of the younger generations in the field, a survey found, are especially frustrated that they don’t have the tools to do their jobs well. They feel like anonymous ticking boxes because they have to type information from systems all day long. These talents are highly educated, but seventy percent of the time do nothing more than production from behind their keyboards. They think that this is – and it is – a waste of their abilities.
Technology as a solution to the shortage of estimators and work planners
You might think that the shortage of estimators and work planners within the metalworking industry is an unsolvable problem. As is often the case, technology provides the solution here. The Quotation Factory represents an automated quotation process between applicant and manufacturer. As a result, those who use the platform enjoy several benefits that offset the shortage of estimators and work planners.
For starters, this digital quoting platform makes estimators more productive by at least a factor of five. Why? Because estimators can leave the hard work of counting and tallying that they normally have to do to the Quotation Factory software, which does it automatically based on intelligent recognition.
Fully automatic estimating avoids unnecessary and error-prone typing
Then again, this software allows metalworkers to fully automatically estimate eighty percent of products of a somewhat simpler nature. So as a human being, you don’t have to look at that at all.
Another crucial perk: all typing, data entry from Excel sheets to ERP systems, is completely eliminated. Because there are automated connections between ERP and CAM systems within the Quotation Factory. This means that an estimator only has to spend his time on the twenty percent more complex requests.
As a result, he can simply return to fully utilizing his college degree, also aided by a tool that is totally specialized for his job and easy and quick to use. In an instant, it makes the job of an estimator interesting and sufficiently sexy for the younger generation – lo and behold, the solution to possible employee lapse.
All knowledge and experience for everyone and always available
There is another scenario in which the Quotation Factory platform is of great value. Suppose your estimators are coming of age. Even if you were then to find new people with great difficulty, it is still quite a challenge to transfer all that knowledge and experience from your original estimators to the young successors.
The moment you use the automated quotation platform, the first step is to bring that existing knowledge and experience into the system. You package those into estimates, formulas and algorithms. And then you only have to train the new generation to handle the twenty percent of the more complicated requests.
No more inconsistent quotes
The fear of quotes becoming inconsistent will disappear like snow under the sun. In fact, it doesn’t matter who makes the quotation. Whether it’s the old or young generation, the same outcomes will always emerge.
An additional positive consequence is that part of the estimator’s work will be to improve estimation algorithms by comparing pre- and post-calculations. This is an activity that the estimating department traditionally does not get around to, but it is very important. After all, anything you misjudge costs you in terms of profitability; you’re either too expensive or too cheap.
Automatic quoting via self-service portal
Then finally, there is a major advantage of working with a fully automated quotation process. As mentioned, customers want to have immediate insight into prices, stocks and delivery times. By that they actually mean now. A common way to facilitate this is a self-service portal. That portal can only provide the desired information directly if you have fully automated the quotation process. Thanks to the Quotation Factory system, you’ll be on top of that from day one. And then you will very quickly find out which customers make such simple requests that you can quote them fully automatically.
This makes it very transparent for you as a metalworker to see what percentage of your requests you can quote automatically. If that percentage is high enough, it could be very interesting to offer customers self-service portals. For them this means more service, because they have direct access to prices and delivery times. On top of that, you unburden your estimating department, giving them even more time for the complex quotations. Win-win situation.
In short, it is highly questionable whether an old-fashioned tool like a job posting is the right solution to the shortage of estimators and work planners. Technology is already miles ahead and offers the ideal alternative: a fully automated quotation platform.