Machine Shop Boost Quoting Speed, Accuracy, and Consistency

5 Myths Surrounding Cost Estimating for Manufacturing

Bidding and Winning More Jobs Than Ever Before

When Gary Cassidy was hired as General Manager at Wayne Machine in the fall of 2007, he began to look for new methods and technologies that could help the Wooster, Ohio, precision machine shop increase its efficiency and productivity. One of his first moves was to acquire COSTIMATOR® by MTI Systems, the industry's leading computerized cost estimating software system, for machining estimating.

The software purchase, made in December, paid off quickly. The company's two-man cost estimating department previously used manual methods, relying almost entirely on their machining experience to estimate feeds and speeds, factor in handling times, account for machine wear and tear and the many other factors that go into job quoting. The estimators knew their shop's machine and production capabilities cold, Cassidy said, but there were many opportunities for miscalculations and inconsistencies during the quoting process. A check of manual estimates compiled over several years found a variety of significant variations between quotes of the same or similar parts.

Using Costimator, the Wayne Machine estimating department slashed its average quoting time, putting out twice as many quotes while dramatically increasing its cost estimating accuracy. The system has also proven to generate machining estimates that are "extremely consistent," said Cassidy.

The transition to computerized estimating was quick. Although the estimators were relatively inexperienced on computersThe transition to computerized estimating was quick. Although the estimators were relatively inexperienced on computers, after just 2 days of implementation and training they were using Costimator to quote new RFQ's. "The learning curve was short and the benefits were instant," said Cassidy, who had been introduced to the cost estimating system while working at another precision machine shop.

"It didn't matter that the estimators were new to computerized quoting; we were bidding and winning more jobs than ever before, bringing in both new work and repeat customers." The return-on-investment, the general manager said, was much quicker than expected.

A Custom Machining Shop Needs a Flexible, Easy-to-Customize Estimating System

Founded in 1966, Wayne Machine has grown into a 30-employee job shop, utilizing state of the art CNC equipment. The company has recently received ISO 9001:2008 certification. Wayne Machine manufactures quantities ranging from prototypes to production runs of up to 1000 parts. It serves a diversified client base, with customers requiring precision machined parts for items such as air actuation devices, oil field service products and firefighting equipment.

Given the diversity of their machining clients, the job specs on incoming RFQs for parts vary wildly. Costimator came with a huge library of industry standard machine, labor and material speed and feed data that covered virtually all aspects of the company's operations. Given the administrative right to do so, users can quickly and easily "tweak" the data to better mirror their shop. Cassidy emphasized that the ability to add and modify its out-of-the-box data was key in being able to fine tune the system in a way that produces quick, precise estimates.

Cassidy added that another vital reason needing to computerize their estimating was that the company's long time estimator was readying for retirement. With his assistance the company was able to transfer his estimating knowledge into Costimator, leaving this vital information to his successor.

System Provides Numerous Benefits

In the fall of 2008, Brandon Clark moved into the role of quoting jobs alongside the senior estimator Ed Beck at Wayne Machine. Just three months into Clark's new job, Beck retired leaving Clark as the newly appointed senior estimator. Clark, who had little estimating experience and no training on computerized manufacturing systems prior to his promotion, called Costimator "incredibly straight forward and user-friendly," enabling him to quickly build estimates even for intricate prototype parts that require complex fixturing. "It does not let you forget any operations or factors like tool wear, which it can calculate and amortize into the cost of a job," he said. "It also is great for estimating assemblies."

Clark, who often discusses and shares his machining estimating with customers both during and after the sales process, said that the detailed reports the system provides are extremely useful sales tools. "The process plans and other reports look great to a customer," he explained. "It gives them the feeling that we've done our homework when estimating their parts, which they appreciate." The systems flexibility, ease-of-use and speed also benefit the sales process at Wayne Machine. "When I am on the phone talking to a customer they may want to get an estimate for a different quantity than originally requested, or have me estimate a similar part." said Clark. "I can keep them on the line, while I calculate the new estimate. Customers love that type of instantaneous response, which I believe helps us to get more orders."

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"Costimator is utilized by many of our customers. This offers a big time-saving advantage (for us) because it allows for data sharing that's compatible with what they are doing – providing quicker negotiations and cost information support."

- Rick Clark, Inside Sales & Estimator, Detroit Tool Metal Products

Estimating Software