The Metal Fabrication industry is connected with almost all spheres of economic activity. From making spoons to complex aircraft parts, there is a little bit of the metal fabrication industry in all of them. The main challenge for metal fabricators is in handling the immense variety of products, and the complexity of producing them within existing capacity.

Customers are increasingly demanding customized products to be delivered on time and at very low costs. They also demand the ability to seamlessly transfer engineering drawings, product specifications and order quantities to their suppliers. The industry has seen a great deal of change over the past 15 years, pressuring organizations to modernize everything from their back-office IT systems to the equipment on the shop floor. As the focus has shifted to low-cost providers, fabricators need to reduce expenses without sacrificing quality.

These factors create an operational climate in which inefficiencies and technological limitations of the past cannot be tolerated. If fabricators want to keep up with the competition, they must find ways to work faster and at lower costs without letting quality slip.

Some of the major issues faced by metal fabricators are:

  • Rigorous regulatory compliance
  • Fluctuations in commodity pricing
  • Shifting customer expectations for price and quality
  • Legacy IT hardware and software
  • A need to provide more precise estimates to customers
  • Outdated shop equipment

Metal manufacturers can definitely benefit from integrating all their business processes under one ERP system. ERP enables companies to integrate their supply chain, provide robust and future-proof backbone systems, increase information transparency and improve productivity through better sales and procurement handling.

The metal fabricating industry can use an ERP solution for:

  • Multiple production planning: Metal fabrication requires a combination of production planning strategies, depending on their order book. Specifications vary for each client. Multiple orders also need to be executed in a single shift, resulting in detailed production planning. Costing for made-to-stock happens based on standard approaches but for made-to-order, costing happens based on the nature of the order and material requirements. Such complexities in planning strategies and costing can be handled by ERP solutions.
  • Product variations: Apart from the finished product, even raw materials for each order can vary. The variations can be significant or even too minute to be noticed by the human eye. However, the need for precision means the exact raw material has to be fed for the specific order. An ERP system will ensure the floor manager picks the right components based on the order and helps handle the processes from the sales order to the finished goods stage.
  • Business Forecast: Since the metal fabrication business is heavily dependent on the economic cycles of its customers—e.g. for automotive, construction and heavy equipment manufacturers, it is imperative to have a tight integration of electronic orders, market trends and business forecasts. ERP uses business integration, trend analysis and predictive modeling of requirements.
  • Differentiated Processes: Different products have different production processes. Depending on the product, the shop floor must quickly change the production process. Batch selection is done by analyzing order requirements, characteristic inheritance and shipment planning. ERP systems supports such variations in the production processes through automatic batch selection based on order, raw material forecasts and production scheduling based on shipment date.
  • Integrated Solution: One of the biggest advantages of an ERP system is that it is a single integrated solution that supports all processes from raw material handling, to order shipment and everything in between. ERP systems can handle machine control systems, process controls, inventory management, production schedules, forecasting, reporting, human resources management, shipment planning etc.

Given the unique nature of their industry and diverse customer base, metal fabricators need an ERP solution that is mobile-friendly, customizable, scalable and has a low cost of ownership. Click here for Innovative & easy to use ERP solutions for manufacturing.

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