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by Thomas Fitzgerald, December 15, 2021

Understanding CAD Automation in Manufacturing

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If there’s one way customer expectations have changed in the 21st century, it’s the need for speed. Customers want customized products and they want them fast. It may be unreasonable to expect manufacturers to move at lightning speed, but CAD automation in manufacturing can help teams shorten timelines – and hit higher levels of accuracy and customer satisfaction.

It’s true that creating detailed CAD drawings often involves multi-department collaboration, something that can be burdensome for manufacturers still bogged down in manual processes and administrative tasks. The good news is that CAD automation in manufacturing can eliminate those delays, expedite sales, and win long-term customer loyalty.

Elevating Your Operations with CAD Automation

CAD tools can automate those manual tasks, such as sending drawings back and forth, that typically slow down your teams. The gift of a good CAD file is that it aligns expectations between your teams and your customers, helping you avoid costly mistakes and disastrous miscommunications. Automated, high-quality CAD drawings ensures everyone moves efficiently into the production, installation, and commissioning phases – and that customers view you as an experienced, trustworthy partner.

Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software comes into play to elevate your performance even more. Forget the constant meetings and long email chains that eat up your engineers’ time; instead, your engineering team can easily share knowledge with your sales reps by codeveloping product logic validated by information from CPQ. Your sales reps now can generate CAD drawings without help from engineering, without any special skill needed. This means they won’t need to coast on guesswork, and they’ll be far less likely to make promises your engineering team can’t keep. They get to work from accurate product drawings and issue realistic quotes, while your engineers have more time for big-picture, creative thinking.

Let’s compare manufacturing with and without CAD automation.

The High Cost of Manual Slowness

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: a prospect becomes interested in your product. Your sales team drills down into their requirements, then brings those details back to the engineering team to talk about what’s possible and how to best manifest the customer’s vision. And this is where your team runs into snags.

You want to tailor your solution to the customer’s needs, but drafting up a custom quote with drawings that meet their configurations takes time. Because you’re relying on manual processes, and your sales team is navigating a colossal product portfolio with myriad options, they promise something that isn’t technically realistic. This annoys your engineering team, because now they have to hustle to create alternate options which require extensive effort on their part – and those options still won’t be exactly what the customer requested. Worst of all, your customer is growing tired of waiting and is starting to eye your competitors.

That’s manufacturing without CAD automation. We’re guessing you’ve been there.

 

The Benefits of CAD Automation in Manufacturing

Enter the faster and easier world of CPQ and CAD automation in manufacturing. Your sales reps can dynamically generate 3D CAD models based on customer configuration requirements. With a library of approved drawings and accurate visual documentation that connects to the customer’s vision, the team can act with confidence – and better guarantee the customer’s ultimate product satisfaction. Even your more junior sales reps will have the information they need to sell more, onboard faster, and capture customer interest.

Let’s analyze the benefits in detail.

Expedited sales.

Customers want their product yesterday, but getting the foundation right takes time. Your speed can be the make or break factor of winning a deal – but a rushed process can breed misunderstandings, delays, and very expensive mistakes. CAD automation preapprovals help you attain both speed and accuracy through correct product logic.

Engineering innovation.

There’s no denying that many engineering teams are frustrated by the time they spend communicating with sales reps and completing administrative tasks. That’s why a more autonomous sales team equals liberation for your engineering team. Now they’re free to focus their energies on creative development – giving your organization a competitive edge.

A captivating customer experience.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If one manufacturer makes you wait while their internal teams go back and forth to produce CAD drawings, and another can quickly product exciting visualizations of your desired product in your environment – which one would you choose? It’s not even a decision, right? Shop drawings, analytics, BOM’s, CAD, and 3D visualizations can all provide a compelling experience that boosts your reputation and attracts new customers.

Higher profits, lower costs.

Because your design process is standardized and automated, allowing your teams to sell faster and innovate more ingeniously, you can expect a boost to your bottom line. CAD automation also means that all work meets a specific quality level, even if you have mixed levels of skill, seniority, and diligence on your engineering team. Finally, having a single source of product data means everyone works from the same data, no matter what team they belong to or where they fit in the production process. This centralization reduces the price tag of mistakes and returns, minimizing your claims costs.

 

CAD Automation and CPQ in Action

Consider Jeff, a manufacturer of auto components. His factory was beset with delays and had recently suffered a few high-cost mistakes based on inaccurate data on the shop floor. Morale was low as customers repeatedly chose the competition.

Jeff discovered that many of their problems stemmed from data silos, with teams pulling information from different systems and working off incorrect drawings. The sales team tended to make quotes based on configurations the engineers couldn’t deliver. Mass customization was rampant, which required engineering teams to step into every sales process and provide detailed technical drawings– lengthening the sales cycle, increasing the cost per quote, and frustrating the engineers.

Adopting CAD automation and CPQ has changed everything for all teams. A single source of product data now means everyone works from the same data no matter what, minimizing errors. The sales team felt empowered by automatically generating reliable CAD drawings in real-time that replicated the customer’s vision and bridged any gaps between customer requirements and engineering scope. The design engineers were relieved to focus their time on higher-value work.

The end result: today the teams win more deals and see higher customer satisfaction.

 Creating a New Era in Manufacturing

Manufacturing is headed for a future of faster production and more technological dependencies. As customer expectations continue to rise, manufacturing leaders will find that automation is no longer just a benefit but a requirement. Only CAD automation and CPQ in manufacturing can unlock the necessary levels of collaboration and efficiency – and the innovation to create extraordinary products.

Sign up for KETIV’s weekly webinars to learn more about amazing tools and features of Autodesk manufacturing software!

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