Put historic engineer knowledge and experience into a database to help your bottom line
Estimating by Experience? Put That Knowledge into a Database!
If your company is still estimating primarily by experience, you are not alone. The majority of job shops estimate by relying on an individual who has decades of experience in the industry or within the company itself. This experience can enable the individual to look at drawings as the quotes come in and return an estimated time or cost in sometimes minutes- it takes many years for someone to be able to do this accurately and consistently. Once a company finds themselves with an individual like this, the experienced individual soon becomes irreplaceable. Now take that person out of the picture for a moment – turnover, cost cutting, the next global pandemic affecting your company’s bottom line. How is your ability to generate quick and reliable quotes now?
Trouble on the horizon
When the estimating duties fall heavily on your most experienced employee day-to-day, you are setting up the process for failure. Employees can get sick, have short to long-term leaves, move on to other opportunities, or retire. Unfortunately, these things can occur with little notice, leaving you scrambling to fill the void of an essential staff member along with the knowledge they carry with them. The immediate result can be costly and important quoting opportunities either can fall by the wayside or are not completed quickly or accurately enough. When going through these difficult times, manufacturers are forced to pull in resources often from multiple departments in order to keep up with the quoting. This collaborative effort can sometimes get you through the tough times on the short-term, but pulling others away from their actual day-to-day responsibilities is not a long-term solution.
Unless you have a replacement waiting on standby, then being proactive will help you avoid some of these pitfalls. You could sit down with your estimator and try to extract all that knowledge, and then try to develop a spreadsheet tool around it; You could hire another full-time estimator to begin the understudy process, with hopes they learn all there is to know. However, what happens when that estimator leaves? All of these options could be costly and take a lot of time. A cost effective and dependable option for you is to implement a database driven Cost Estimating Software.
Technology is here to Help
A database driven estimating software program enables sheet metal, fabrication, and machine shops to take some of that extracted knowledge from their most experienced personnel, and put it into a database. Not all of their experience can be withdrawn, but after implementing, your company can rely on a standardized tool and not on a person. An estimating software will be bring many benefits to your organization, including the following:
- Consistency – Using formula driven methods to calculate the times for processes like laser, welding, milling, drilling, and turning, and more, will standardize the process. It makes estimating consistent no matter what day it is, or who is using it and how they feel that day. It can also make estimating accessible to different skillsets.
- Accuracy – It is not in the eye of the beholder, it is in the database. With database driven Estimating Software, the accuracy comes by what you put into it. Some programs come ready with machine data, speeds & feeds, formulas, time standards, etc., but every shop is unique so finding an estimating software that is fully customizable should be a top priority.
- Speed – While nothing can compete with the speed of someone looking at a drawing for a few seconds then coming up with a (right or wrong) number, using a standardized estimating system can be very quick, and for most companies is an improvement on their estimating time. Some cost estimating software programs integrate with 3D CAD files as well as ERP’s, which can greatly speed up the quoting process from begging to end.
It’s Never Too Late
It is a tough situation when an indispensable staff member suddenly becomes unavailable or decides to move on. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead for the worst. There are tools available to help smooth the transition. In addition, you will be standardizing your estimating process for all those involved, and for decades to come. Why wait until disaster strikes? Be prepared and stabilize your quoting process before it is too late.
About MTI Systems, Inc.
MTI Systems provides cost estimating software and estimation services for the manufacturing industry, serving both suppliers and OEMs. For more information on Costimator and MTI Systems, contact MTI Systems, 1111 Elm Street, Suite 6, West Springfield, MA 01089; Phone 413-733-1972