Throughout the industry changes brought on by the pandemic, manufacturers who’d taken their organizations through a digital transformation were better prepared to weather the storm. A recent Salesforce industry report found that “3.5x as many Future-Ready manufacturers are able to react rapidly to market changes compared to unprepared manufacturers.” Considering the fast pace of this essential industry, manufacturers are constantly having to evolve their business, their procedures, and their products.
In order to create opportunities for their business and customer lifecycle to continually advance, manufacturers are looking to automate their systems through use of technology to best manage their custom engineered parts. Throughout this post, we’ll be learning how to:
- Understand the processes in place when dealing with custom engineered parts
- Identify missed opportunities for customers and suppliers as a result of manual processes
- Maximize time and efforts by driving organizational change through a digital transformation
Differentiating manufacturing requirements
When someone thinks of manufacturing, they often think of the automotive industry, large pieces of equipment and machinery that transform a piece of material into another shape or form. For the average consumer, that’s what the manufacturing industry represents since that’s the end product they see and purchase from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). However, to get their final end product in front of customers, OEMs need support from their suppliers, as they have contracts (purchase order agreements) to make and deliver specific custom engineered parts. The OEM gathers the different custom engineered parts at their facility and assembles them to create the final end product.
While custom engineered parts can come from various suppliers around the world, many of these parts require sub-tier suppliers who create other custom/standard engineered parts. These suppliers have to track the client’s engineering requirements to price the product accordingly based on their needs and annual volume. While the average consumer lacks insight into this chain of events, the different custom engineered parts play a critical role in the manufacturing industry and overall process. Custom engineered parts have different specific engineering requirements that are critical for the final product’s performance as well as the safety of the product for consumer use.
Managing manual manufacturing challenges
Custom engineered parts suppliers often have a vast portfolio that OEMs look to purchase from. Within that product portfolio, suppliers have to make different variations of the same final product to tailor it to the OEM’s specific requirements. Given the different requirements that suppliers must manage, some of the complexities involved include:
- Managing one sub-component for the final product across multiple product variants
- Having one specific machine to produce parts for different clients / variants of the final product
- Understanding the different capabilities of sub-tier suppliers
- Obeying government rules and regulation requirements around locally made products
It’s common for custom engineered product suppliers to use the standard collaboration tools, like Microsoft Excel and Sharepoint to manage their product portfolios and the different variants. The purpose of these tools is to keep track of the different engineering requirements from the customer, and to document any product or requirement changes. For example, if a potential new product requires a specific sub-component that is currently being used in production for another client when a change is being made to that part, the team working on the new product lacks insight into this change, increasing the cost to the product.
In addition, suppliers for custom engineered parts have strict government rules and regulations they must follow and are audited annually. The audit goes through the supplier's method for managing the OEM’s engineering requirements, closely examining the process of change management, how production volume is met, and more. The tools that these suppliers use to manage their business often result in human errors and production issues, costing the team extra time to correct mistakes as a result of no systemized automation in place to reduce the manual effort.
Creating a Salesforce solution for a swift manufacturing process
Given the challenges brought on by the obstacles above, Traction on Demand’s Salesforce-based custom engineered product solution leverages elements of Salesforce Experience Cloud, Sales Cloud, and Revenue Cloud to set customers up for success. The solution framework allows the custom engineering teams to collaborate on one platform, incorporating inputs through Experience Cloud for a simplified and unified user experience. With this tool in place, users can easily manage the demand, configuration, and initial pricing matrix so that Sales teams can further the process for the customer. Once the customer has signed off, the contract is converted through internal processes into a CPQ quote that aligns within the general Product Master of SKUs, ultimately bridging the gap to allow the business to quote on these custom products without proliferating their product master with thousands of unique SKUs.
Through eliminating a substantial amount of manual processes, users will note a significant reduction in lead times for a high level/ROM (rough order of magnitude) estimates when an OEM reaches out for pricing. Sales teams will have the ability to search historical quotes based on similar product configurations (size, material, product requirements, etc) to identify a sample fit, thus allowing ROM estimates to be provided within days instead of weeks.