Rebuilding Your Sheet Metal Fabrication Shop After COVID-19 Requires Organizations to Think Outside the Box with Pricing, People, and Processes.
A little over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are starting to see a widespread effect into what some claim is the “new norm”. The manufacturing industry as a whole is seeing an extreme transformation from what their businesses looked like not long ago. COVID-19 has left behind a changed economic landscape not only for the manufacturers, but also their customers. As organizations begin to rebuild or restructure to take on these new challenges, they are having to get creative with their pricing, people and processes.
As we dig deeper into the industry we service, there is a growing crisis within the steel service and metal fabrication industries. High pressure and demand for materials is creating a constant price change within the market. With a lack of imports and sparse inventory at steel service centers, prices are changing daily, if not hourly. Maintaining pricing and consistent profitability to ensure business growth is imperative through these ever-changing times.
Pricing alone is just one problem in this evolving industry. The growing need for people is creating a gap that is prevalent as you drive past most manufacturing organizations. “Now Hiring” signs can be seen in front of buildings with extreme bonus offerings to bring committed employees onboard. With unemployment on the rise, nearly 500,000 job openings in manufacturing alone remain. Finding talented, experienced and committed individuals is becoming a hardship for most. According to the Deloitte report, “Creating pathways for tomorrow’s workforce today: Beyond reskilling in manufacturing,” finding the right talent is now 36% harder than it was in 2018. One executive questioned, “Is there a point when we run out of production workers or a point when we have to consider moving to a different location?”
While pricing and people are complex topics in this changing landscape, digital transformation within processes is on the rise. As employees moved towards remote work, automating processes to reduce the need for in-person involvement became a powerful movement. Deeply connected systems have removed the need for overhead but this creates a larger problem – the need for the licensed, skilled or certified individuals to run these programs.
A Simple Solution to Reduce Complexity
Estimating is the first hurdle to receiving an order, moving it through the production floor and out the door to your customer.
The ever-evolving pricing hurdles are alleviated with the SecturaSOFT’s SecturaFAB platform. SecturaFAB allows you to adjust pricing on the fly to ensure you are always providing an accurate, yet profitable quote to your customer. “Our customers state time and time again the importance of being the first one back with a quote. Their customer’s deadline never changes, so most of the time the first quote back is the one that wins,” stated Brad Stropes, COO of SecturaSOFT. Stropes went on to explain that they continue to revolutionize the SecturaFAB platform to incorporate tools to allow their customers to quote even faster. “We are even seeing some of our customers utilizing our e-commerce platform, QuoteZONE. This platform allows their customers to import a file and get pricing back instantly. This completely alleviates the bottleneck of complex quoting.”
SecturaSOFT has proven success with a number of business systems through integration. “We have found that COVID-19 has made many manufacturing organizations think more creatively about hiring. Having a solution like SecturaFAB that actually brings your on-prem ERP or other business systems ‘online’ is really powerful,” continued Stropes. SecturaFAB is a cloud-based estimating solution. Through integration, it brings great value to your business systems by pushing the important data via the web. Whether you are hiring someone for their experience or their values, you no longer have to worry about where they are located. Finding the right person just became a bit easier by digitally transforming the solutions they utilize.
The unique advantage of SecturaFAB is that it was developed with the sales department in mind. Unlike the competition, SecturaFAB reduces the need for engineering’s involvement. By bringing on a junior estimator and having a platform and process in place for quoting, getting up to speed has never been so easy. “SecturaFAB truly simplifies quoting. We recently heard from one of our customers that they were bringing on an estimator that didn’t have any experience. Because SecturaFAB walks you through operations and has true run times built into the system, the hard part of doing the calculations is now done for you,” said Stropes. The exhausting need to find the ideal candidate with an optimum level of experience has now become much easier.
Digital transformation is an evolving topic within manufacturing. Finding ways to automate processes for less manual entry and tying systems together for free-flowing data allows for ease of analytics and decision-making. “We have deep partnerships within this industry and an open API to allow our platform to talk to others. This reduces overhead and double entry of information,” said Stropes. With SecturaFAB, the time taken to go back and forth from estimating to engineering, to the shop floor, and back again reduces significantly. An estimator can now import a design file, select the machinery, apply secondary operations and email a quote straight from the system. Even more, this data can now be pushed to an ERP solution for the creation of work orders, production scheduling and invoicing. “We have listened to our customers over the years and have found that estimating doesn’t have to be such a complex process. Getting the data from the quote to their necessary systems doesn’t have to be complex either.”
Implementing the SecturaFAB platform is easy. You can be up and running in hours, utilizing standard run times, equipment and materials. Customizing the solution and tailoring it for your operations reduces a lot of headaches within the manufacturing space. While returning to this “new norm” seems daunting for most, SecturaFAB can alleviate a number of the pain points manufacturers are seeing today.