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How does ERP/CAD integration help custom manufacturers?

Companies working in the custom manufacturing industry know better than anyone that their customers have grown increasingly demanding. These customers want a quality, custom-made product to be completed in a short timeframe. For the manufacturers who serve these customers, meeting these growing, complex demands means having business processes optimized from the initial engineering stage to the moment the final product is shipped to the client. Meeting those demands takes the kind of automation and integration enabled by a great ERP system.

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 and other departments are using. Integrating CAD and production processes is critical to achieving the agility and responsiveness you need to meet the dynamic requirements of your demanding customer base. One of the major ways an abas ERP system benefits custom manufacturers is by making the tie-in between CAD and ERP systems seamless, which results in more efficiency that will impact both your company’s and your customer’s experiences for the better.

Translating CAD data to the rest of the business

Every savvy business leader today knows that having integrated systems that allow you to collect and leverage your data is essential in order to drive process improvement and productivity. Integrating your CAD and ERP systems is essential for custom manufacturers.

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 custom manufacturer’s engineering and design team into their CAD system. The file output from the CAD system provides the manufacturer with all the essential information about materials, component parts, assembly and subassembly requirements and everything else needed to make the product for the waiting customer. Once the design is finalized, the manufacturer can move into the production process.

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 operation, and so on. This is what seamless integration and optimization look like.

It’s a massive benefit for your custom manufacturing company and your overall customer experience, enabling you to deliver quality and do so faster than ever: abas ERP easily integrates with CAD software, allowing custom manufacturers to translate engineering data into financial and production information that translates into faster delivery times and happy (even if demanding) customers.

Integrating CAD into ERP for Production, Profits, and a Better Customer Experience

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 by the custom manufacturer. The ERP system automatically quantifies these and makes it easy to start finding suitable vendors. Instead of having your people scratching their heads (a highly-inefficient manual process), your ERP system integrates with CAD and gets to work automatically resolving the challenges.

But beyond the production process, abas ERP with CAD integration can translate engineering data into dollars. The system has extremely detailed accounting and costing modules that help manufacturers track their various costs (materials, labor, R&D, etc.) and ensure 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. All of this CAD and ERP integration helps you gain the real-time visibility you need to keep your demanding customers updated and happy. 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 (due to multiple manual entries) between functional areas. Saving time enhances your own and your customer’s experience too.

Flexibility to make design changes during production

Custom manufacturers 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 integrated into your ERP system makes this whole alteration process much easier. The manufacturer can go back into the CAD file, make the desired changes and let the integrated ERP system automatically update to reflect any changes to the manufacturing process and financial reporting. Change something at any point in the process, and the entire system recognizes and dynamically integrates the change across your operations. Now that’s working “smart” and seamlessly.

Custom manufacturers are always looking for ways to meet customer expectations on tight deadlines while remaining profitable. Having an ERP system that integrates CAD, that also brings together separate functional areas seamlessly, is a powerful way to achieve these goals. The end result of CAD and ERP system integration? Efficiencies that please you, enhance your quality and profitability, and (by the way) please your demanding customers too.

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