Engineer To Order manufacturing companies, by their very nature, generate a one-of-kind workflow complexity that requires uniquely tailored managerial approaches to streamline all these diverse processes.
Often, this requires plant managers to adopt and redesign paradigms and business models from other sectors, such as iterative manufacturing. However, transforming these repetitive processes into ones that support building Engineer To Order products can ultimately create more problems than they solve.
An R&D-heavy sector
Engineer-to-order manufacturers must rely heavily on the research-and-development phase of the process. Since each engineer-to-order product is created for a client based off a unique set of specifications, it means the process for creating this product is going to be R&D heavy. Before anyone begins building an engineer-to-order product, the manufacturer will need to spend a considerable amount of time researching precisely how to create this brand-new, one-of-a-kind product, as well as which processes this product design will necessitate.
While many enterprises are equipped to handle constructing the final product, not all of them have the capabilities to ensure no important piece of data or information goes missing. Engineer To Order companies need proper software in place that allows for streamlined messaging and communication between all employees, as well as a single repository to store all information and research. By having all of this data kept in an easily accessible spot for all relevant parties, manufacturing companies can optimize their workflows and guarantee their orders are engineered perfectly.
As AutomationMag noted, having a dedicated and integrated software system that keeps track of the entire process allows engineers to focus more on transferring their knowledge into configurable products, without having to worry about missing out on crucial information.
Dismissing existing tools
Much like the unique products built by engineer-to-order manufacturers, the processes used by these companies are also typically one of a kind. Due to the nature of the production, these companies cannot simply rely on the same tools and systems used by iterative manufacturers.
“Engineer-to-order manufacturers cannot simply rely on the same tools and systems used by iterative manufacturers.”
According to the article “Engineer To Order (ETO) production planning and control: an empirical framework for machinery-building companies,” when Engineer To Order manufacturers attempt to repurpose existing information and communication technology or software used by repetitive manufacturers, it often leads to a host of problems. The needs of these organizations is vastly different. Iterative manufacturers know what materials they need well in advance and keep significant volumes of stock to ensure uninterrupted production. Engineer To Order organizations by contrast, rarely keep any stock, except for raw materials and parts left over from previous jobs. The parts are different for each job and there is little to no predictability as to what parts you might need in the future. For these reasons, Engineer To Order organizations are often referred to as “job shops” – they only buy parts for specific projects/jobs as needed. As projects are unique, it creates challenges during the pricing and estimating phase, sometimes requiring engineers begin preliminary designs. Some custom design manufacturers go as far as designing the entire BOM to get preliminary costing data, so they can be extra precise when quoting. All of this means extra attention is needed when tracking actual and committed costs. All costs must be attributed to a Project and sub-projects, sometimes even down to the specific assembly to get better understanding and control of costs and budget to actual comparisons.
Implementing a solution
As the “Engineer To Order production planning and control” article noted, there are limited frameworks for managing production in Engineer To Order companies. Fortunately, Total ETO provides manufacturers with a solution to streamline all the information required to create custom products. With an exceptional implementation time-frame, and at a reasonable cost, small to mid-sized Engineer To Order companies can get the software up and running quickly and affordably, without having to wait on extended downtime or rely on in-depth training. The intuitive software allows managers and workers on the floor to easily familiarize themselves with the program quickly, providing a great return on investment.
Learn more about Total ETO by requesting a demo today!