Custom engineer-to-order (ETO) manufacturers have unique process requirements throughout their manufacturing lifecycle. As manufacturers grow, the processes in place get more and more complex to handle with traditional forms of communication. The communication between departments, or lack-there-of, can cause bottlenecks, affecting the growth potential of small to medium-size manufacturers.
In ETO environments, on-time delivery to customers becomes highly dependent on engineering process time. To speed-up delivery time, simultaneous engineering using critical path methodology is essential. The engineering team is tasked with completing designs in phases on an on-going basis as the project progresses. Ensuring the procurement and production teams receive accurate data in an ever-changing bill of manufacturing (BOM) keeps projects on-time and on-budget.
An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can ensure all these steps are consistent and accounted for, plus give you a dashboard snapshot of any given step in the project manufacturing lifecycle. So, what should you look for when evaluating an ERP solution for your custom ETO manufacturing environment?
1. Project Manufacturing Functionality: The capacity to add more detail to the overall bill of manufacturing (BOM) to a project on an ongoing basis (i.e. progressive BOM procurement)
2. Integration with your current CAD software: Especially if you’ve already made major investment in this area
3. Ability to accurately track time and expenses for delivery to and installation at your customer site: Many ERP solutions only allow for tracking of time within your factory walls
4. A system designed specifically for custom ETO manufacturing: Many ERP solutions began as accounting and/distribution software, and over time added more and more modules including manufacturing; implementing a solution that was developed from the beginning specifically for manufacturers and their unique process requirements will avoid many headaches down the road
5. A vertically-integrated ERP solutions company specialized in your manufacturing industry: An important aspect of the solution you implement is the service contract — when the same company who developed the software is selling their own software as well as conducting the implementation at your site, and the company fully understands your industry and specific requirements, you can be assured of industry expertise every step of the way and consistent expectations throughout the entire process
Often times, small to medium-size custom engineer-to-order manufacturers rule out adopting an enterprise resource planning solution thinking that their manufacturing processes are too unique to adopt an end-to-end software solution. In fact, keeping in mind the above list of parameters, you should consider investing in only a specialized software solution that fits your unique needs.
Instead of hiring more staff to grow your business, a specialized ERP solution should streamline processes and communication across your entire organization including engineering, leading to increased revenues and profit growth.
Jean Magny is the President of Genius Solutions, developer of the leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for custom make-to-order (MTO) and engineer-to-order (ETO) manufacturers and their unique requirements.