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How does ERP/CAD integration help custom manufacturers?

CAD Integration in ERP

Customers in the custom manufacturing industry have grown increasingly demanding: They want a quality custom-made product to be completed in a short timeframe. For the manufacturers that serve them, this means business processes have to be optimized from the initial engineering stage to the moment the final product is shipped to the client.

Optimizing the whole operation can be difficult if the engineering department is using a CAD or product lifecycle management tool that is siloed from the ERP system the production department uses. Integrating these two processes is critical to achieving agility and responsiveness, and one of the major ways abas ERP systems benefits customer manufacturers is by making the tie-in between CAD and ERP systems seamless.

Translating CAD data to the rest of the business

Nothing in custom manufacturing happens until a customer shows up with a design and asks for a quote. The customer's design requirements and specifications may be in the form of drawings, a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet or possibly a CAD file.  This information will be entered by the manufacturer’s engineering and design team into their CAD system.  The file output from the CAD system provides the manufacturer with all the information about materials, component parts, assembly and subassembly requirements and everything else required to make the product. Once the design is finalized, the manufacturer can move into the production process.

Nothing in custom manufacturing happens until a customer shows up with a design and asks for a quote

This is where the integration between the CAD and the abas ERP system comes into play. The ERP software can take the CAD file and automatically translate the design and production requirements into workable information for use in the manufacturing process. It takes the materials, parts and assemblies specified by the client and moves the specs across the whole system in the form of bills of materials, routing information for assemblies and subassemblies, the amount of labor needed, what machines are needed, the time required for each op. and so on.

abas ERP can easily integrate with CAD software, allowing custom manufacturers to translate engineering data into financial and production information.

For example, if the product to be made involves a lot of complex subassemblies, such as motors, piping, electrical circuits or hydraulic systems, these parts may have to be outsourced or otherwise specially ordered. The ERP system automatically quantifies these and makes it easy to start finding suitable vendors.

But beyond the production process, abas ERP can translate engineering data into dollars and cents. The system has extremely detailed accounting and costing modules that help manufacturers track their various costs (materials, labor, R&D, etc.) and ensure their own profitability on every project.

Bringing the relevant information from the engineering stage to the manufacturing stage is essential for managers to handle planning, scheduling and capacity throughout the whole manufacturing process. It gives the manufacturer a panoramic view of every step in production and ensures everything can be finished by the customer's deadline and as close to the original estimate as possible. Further, the automatic translation of engineering data into manufacturing instructions is a major time saver since it reduces redundant data entry and the chances of human error in between functional areas.

Flexibility to make design changes during production

Every custom manufacturer knows that since every project is an entirely new undertaking, it's unlikely that everything will go exactly as planned once production starts. A design may be considered "finalized," but that doesn't mean the customer's needs won't change once the manufacturing process is already underway.

These alterations send the manufacturer back to the design and engineering stage. Again, the dynamic interplay between the CAD software and ERP system makes this much easier. The manufacturer can go back into the CAD file, make the desired changes and let the system automatically update to reflect any changes to the manufacturing process and financial reporting.

Custom manufacturers are always looking for ways to meet customer expectations on tight deadlines while remaining profitable. Having an ERP system that can bring together separate functional areas seamlessly is a powerful way to achieve these goals.

If you would like more information on CAD integration visit our product page or contact an abas represntative today.

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