TRAKware was designed on the custom/engineer-to-order manufacturing floor, for small to midsize organizations that have a strong interdependency between engineering / design and manufacturing / fabrication / construction, and provides comprehensive and professional grade coverage of all aspects of the custom / etobusiness environment with:
Industry Leading Parametric Technology
Problem: Traditional systems use individual 'part numbers' to identify each permutation of a complicated assembly. Based on the complexity of the custom product, software applications such as Dynamics, SAP, Epicor, Infor very quickly reach a threshold which rapidly erode productivity and profitability.
Solution: From day 1, TRAKware replaced 'part' based thinking with parametric based thinking. Key benefit? Manage your business in 3D so you can take your customer's concept and bring it to life ("if they can Think It, you can Build It."). Single parts and products within TRAKware - or thousands of individual parts in a traditional ERP/MRP system. You have a choice!
Background: Parametrics is the ability to adjust or change based on parameters. The dictionary definition of a parametric equation implies that these parameters are based on coordinates. Parametrics within TRAKware goes far beyond only using parameters to represent coordinates, enabling you to dynamically adjust:
- Bills of Materials
- Bills of Labor
- selling prices
all based on parameters that you determine.
Manufacturing Execution (direct the flow of materials and labor for any number of concurrent projects, throughout the manufacturing process to produce efficient, error-free and profitable results)
TRAKware has been designed and built from a custom/ETO manufacturing environment perspective. Unlike some systems that start with an accounting focus and add-on manufacturing functionality, TRAKware has been specifically designed to meet the real-time information needs, at the point of transaction of project-based manufacturers. However, TRAKware allows you to fully leverage any and all investment in your current accounting/financial software. We complement the key players like Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains, SAGE, Oracle Financials, JDEdwards, American Contractor and of course, our specialty, QuickBooks!
TRAKware provides a modular and fully integrated manufacturing execution solution.
The simplified illustration below represents workflow / business process challenges in an ETO/custom environment.
TRAKware's strategic differentiation compared to other similar systems is: TRAKware has been specifically designed for demanding and dynamic ETO environments made possible by our parametric configuration platform. This differentiation allows TRAKware to be implemented quickly and effectively in these environments.
The TRAKware solution Addresses the following Key Challenges
BOM in Stages
Engineering MUST manage and maintain BOM with purchasing and manufacturing.
On-going Order Changes
Client order changes during the design process, often after the design has been issued to purchasing and manufacturing, impacts design time, purchasing efforts, and project profitability
Manufactured products are usually new designs or a customized version of something previously manufactured.
Real-time Project Costing
Real-time project costing available to management to effectively manage costs against estimates during the entire lifecycle of the project.
Purchasing to the Project
Purchasing materials to a project, rather than inventory is a hallmark of the Engineer to Order process
Tracking Labor Costs
Tracking labor costs directly to the project is needed for accurate project costing in the ETO process.
2D and 3D Integration
Engineers and designers must be able to move BOM information from CAD packages to the business system without double entry or conflict with previous information in the system. The outcome reduces designer concerns and rapid engineering processing directly impact the profit margin.
ETO manufacturers constantly face with Non-Conformance, a complexity characteristic the Engineer to Order process. Improved product quality impacts the profit margins and profitability. - ETO manufacturers constantly face with Non-Conformance, a complexity characteristic the Engineer to Order process. Improved product quality impacts the profit margins and profitability.
As each job is unique, an estimate is necessary to produce a customer quote. In many cases estimates are constructed from previous jobs that had similar characteristics. In some industries, like manufacturing where there is a high volume of Requests for Quote (RFQ), companies use a summary where they estimate using groupings or "buckets" of labor hours and material dollars. Here they estimate at a high level before constructing a more detailed estimate. Some companies have built sophisticated Microsoft Excel templates to assist in the estimating process, and Excel is the tool of choice for most companies. Improved Advanced Planning Software (APS), scheduling components of ETO ERP systems, and highly effective engineering integration systems specifically designed for ETO manufacturers have made great inroads to improving the estimate "guessing" to accurate costing. These technological advancements have made ETO manufacturing increasingly attractive as the risk of poor projecting is greatly reduced.
Build to a project
Terminology may be different from manufacturer to manufacturer. The terms project, job and contract are sometimes used interchangeably. In some companies the term "contract" refers to the legal document spelling out the terms and conditions of the agreement. The term "project" refers to schedule of work and the "jobs" represents the individual segments of work that comprise the project. Whichever term is preferred, an ETO manufacturing company uses the project/contract/job as a scheduling mechanism and as a cost collection mechanism.
In some cases, material is purchased only once for a specific project. The subcontractor or supplier may be involved with the original design and specification of material. In many cases the design engineer will specify the part to be purchased. For any material purchased, the actual cost is allocated to the project. In no phase of purchasing is there as much engineering input as in ETO manufacturing. The new tools available for engineers offer precise costing, manufacturing efficiency, and contribute to the ETO desirability among North American manufacturers.
In an ETO manufacturing environment, engineering changes are a way of life. As the customer is heavily involved throughout the whole engineering and manufacturing process, changes to the design are inevitable. Critical to the profitability of a project is to record and monitor the changes to determine who bears the responsibility for any additional cost. Keeping these additional costs contained provides reduced risk for the ETO manufacturers.
ETO and project-based manufacturing manufacturers appoint a manager for each project. Project managers are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the project is delivered on time and within budget. Microsoft Project is the tool of choice for many companies, not only for managing the project but also for communicating status with their customers. Increasingly there is movement to technology that has improved the bottom-line project management for the ETO manufacturers.
ETO manufacturers use project accounting and collect actual costs rather than the standard costing method used by most repetitive manufacturing companies. All actual costs are allocated to a project and monitored against the original estimate. Monitoring actual costs against the original estimate ensures that profit margins are maintained. It is essential to know the Estimated Cost to Complete to determine what is still needed to deliver the project. The capacity to monitor the Cost to Complete is greatly enhanced by new software technology that has prompted some of the movement away from repetitive manufacturing.
Many projects require installation at the customer’s site. Once the assembly is complete, the equipment is broken down into major assemblies and shipped to the client’s location. Here the equipment is reassembled and typically goes through a certification process before acceptance by the customer. Often these on-site installations give way to other process improvements including Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma and ISO certification. ETO manufacturers may be more attentive to the concept of continued process improvement resulting in better run, more profitable manufacturing operations.
Progress or progressive billing is sometimes called milestone reporting. Due to the long lead times in the ETO world it is common business practice to receive partial payments, typically based on a percentage of the total bill, when a significant milestone is reached. This aspect of ETO drives alternative cash flow processes from repetitive manufacturers who do not get paid until the final product is delivered.