Metal fabrication companies face unique challenges through varying preferences in the way components are delivered. For example, a custom manufacturer may need a metal fabricator to take on a design-to-order project, oftentimes in the middle of production. These types of design changes frequently occur, which creates the demand for flexible cost estimating.
The metal fabrication ERP industry is comprised of many small to mid-sized fabrication companies that typically support larger manufacturers via a wide array of products, including:
- General hardware
- Fabricated structural metal products
- Metal forgings
- Metal stampings
- A variety of metal and wire products
Metal fabrication is different than the primary metals industry, which smelts and refines metals from ore and scrap, and manufactures basic metal products through casting, rolling and alloying.
Companies in the metal fabrication ERP industry are executing cost-cutting measures, including plant shutdowns, inventory reductions, and efficiency improvements. One source of efficiency improvement is modern technology.
Recent advances in software technology and computational power have made it possible for fabricators to run extremely complex modeling simulations in a reasonable amount of time.
Benefits attributed to running these types of simulations include:
- More accurate price quoting
- Faster time-to-market
- Easier troubleshooting
- Improved product quality
Critical Requirements for Metal Fabrication ERP
Most fabrication companies manipulate metal by bending, punching, and welding the product for a customer. The process starts with a design, and then the fabrication company applies its technology to the customer needs.
This metal fabrication ERP technology usually involves the use of CNC machines, punch presses, and sometimes even robotic cells. The orders received are typically for specific parts for a specific customer, and such activity makes the company a sort of “job shop.”
Scheduling machines or machine centers is a critical step. It is also important to manage and control the maintenance of the machines involved.
These are a few of the unique challenges and critical capabilities that will be featured in a state-of-the-art metal fabrication ERP solution:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM Software)
- Quoting and Estimating
- Order Processing
- Product Configurator
- Product Data Management (PDM)
- Product Lifecycle Management Software (PLM)
- Document Management
- Engineering Change Management
- Forecasting and Demand Planning
- Project Manufacturing
- Lean Manufacturing
- Supply Chain Management Software
- Advanced Manufacturing Planning
- Lot Control
- Warehouse Management Software (WMS)
- Plant Equipment
- Cost Accounting
- Project Accounting