Posted by Jaydeep Chauhan on July 19th, 2017
Last month, when Elon Musk’s Tesla announced about the launching of cheap solar roofs, it must have sent a jitter down the spines to fabricators of shelter structures and metal canopies. These sheet metal fabricators see solar roofs attacking their business, no matter how versatile their own products are.
Like Tesla, there are numerous entrants with some new features every now and then. In order to stay profitable in such agile market, fabricators’ way out is to adopt design automation for their versatile CAD designs and use an online configurator for attracting more customers with better sales, and buying experience for their customers.
For shelter structure fabricators, to compete in agile markets and keep expanding their business, they should welcome ideates all of which emerge from different design engineers. Ideally, it becomes difficult to manage all the documents and select a few best designs from multiple options. It is even tough, to decide which design will be accepted by their customers based on its features, adaptability and usability.
Besides, growing importance of personalization in design and characteristic of shelter structures has invited challenges for fabricators to reach their customers on time with end products. Building contractors and even the private house owners are keen on designing and erecting a structure as specified [material, style, size, etc.] by them. Additionally, there are shelter structure’s varying characteristics that pose challenges in fabrication methods and engineering lead time.
These challenges keep elongating the time between the initiation of order receipt for fabrication and completion of final fabricated product. Advanced adoption of design automation entails enablement of a highly personalized experience, seamless and expanded collaboration, and universal access to game-changing insights for customers. Plugins like DriveWorks with SolidWorks and online sales configurator let the customer select and ‘design’ customized product.
Furthermore, B2B software industry is accelerating its transition to software-as-a-service, while industries increasingly adopt 3-D parametric modeling, simulation and collaboration solutions — transforming the way designers, drafters, engineers and many other design professionals design things. It has brought these professionals to develop only a standardized model in SolidWorks which can then be modified further for customization with developed logical set of rules in DriveWorks.
Product configurator with DriveWorks will essentially establish a user friendly platform to choose and customize their product exactly as the way they want. The core reason to why fabricators started welcoming more ideates is to stay profitable and have multiple options to serve their customers. These multiple options for design customization like number of beams and cross pillars, material, dimensions, sizing, roof covering, spacing, hoop frames etc. can be populated into the online configurator. It allows the customer to select the features that they want, with a real-time view of each feature being added to their final product.
It may seem that only the end customer is benefited from the custom product configurator. However, if looked upon keenly, the repercussions it has for fabricators are far better. When the customers have selected their exact choice and customized shelter structure through online product configurator, it goes to the fabricator with fabrication ready drawings and details. Simultaneously, it can also be connected to ERP system of the fabrication company to know order quantity or production quantity.
With such ready details, it is easy for fabricator to understand the fabrication requirements and plan their schedule. Moreover, it lets them practice Just-in-time fabrication, which will save costs by avoiding inventory charges, boarding extra manpower and reworks with last minute hassle. It also eliminates engineering changes originating from shop floor, since all the designs populated to configurator are according to custom tooling capacity of the fabricator only.
Such pinpointed services will not only make them enhance their fabrication stage, but also enable fabricators to project themselves better in the markets when it comes to product value and quality deliverables.