Written by
Anne Mulvenna

How to save on engineering time with CAD-ERP integration

Genius ERP: ready out-of-the-box for custom manufacturing.

Do you know that up to 20% of the total engineering time in your shop is taken up by transferring Bills of Materials (BOMs) out of your CAD system? This is an especially time-consuming task for ETO shops where every item you manufacture is truly custom.

But you can easily get back this time, and have your engineering department working on more important tasks than data entry, by having your ERP system integrate directly with your CAD software. With a fully integrated system, your engineer will be able to seamlessly export the BOM from your CAD system into your ERP, creating a fully itemized list of the materials, and letting you easily compare the materials needed for the project against what you already have on hand. Not only will you remove errors that come from manual data transcription and entry, you’ll save time, and you will always be confident about what materials you need to get a job done on time and on budget.

In sync. Always.

CAD-ERP integrations save you time and money by letting you export a BOM directly from your CAD software to your ERP system. But if the systems aren’t always in sync, inconsistencies will pop up, and you’ll soon be dealing with some major problems — and you can kiss your savings goodbye.

What you need is bi-directional and real-time metadata exchange. Translated into English this means that your two systems need to be able to talk to each other at all times. At a minimum your CAD-ERP integration should be able to synchronize the following data:

  • BOMs: Your edits of assembly or subassembly automatically update to ensure consistency of CAD and ERP data.
  • Routing Instructions: You can manage manufacturing steps whenever you edit a drawing of a component or assembly. When done, an updated routing table is sent to the MRP system, and a copy is automatically inserted into the drawing.
  • Part/Component/Assembly data: Data is processed, sent, and updated appropriately.
  • Other data: There is actually a whole world of data objects that can be shared between a CAD system and an ERP. Find what is useful for your shop and use it.

You will also want to look for systems that are fully automated and let you transfer data with a push of a button, eliminating all redundant data entry. You also need a system that can automatically reconcile, and find and correct any errors. If an edit is made to the data in the CAD system, you need this to update in the ERP system automatically. A system that automatically resolves any discrepancies, but also lets the end-user have the final say is the gold standard of CAD-ERP integration.

Easy to use.

This goes without saying, but you want the integration between the two systems to be easy to implement and easy to use. If a programmer or IT professional is needed, it’s probably too complicated — and won’t save you time. And at the end of the day you want an actual human being to be able to operate it without extensive training.

Hopefully your existing ERP system has this functionality built into it, and all you need to do is implement the  integration module. (On the hunt for a new ERP system? Check out our ebook on selecting a new ERP system so you can be confident that the system you choose has the features you need.) Your staff has already spent time learning your ERP system, so implementing the new module should be easy and require little training. You shouldn’t need any extra IT time to install the integration, and your engineering department should be able to be up to speed on the new module in no time.

Save time and money, and speed up your production rate.

With your CAD-ERP integration up and running you will reduce errors, save time and money, and increase production speed. You’ve recruited the engineers you have on staff for their design talents, not their data entry skills, so with a CAD-ERP integration you will free up their time to concentrate on engineering and designing new products, instead of wasting it on data-entry. Not only will you eliminate the errors and inconsistencies that come with manual data entry, that cost you money and time, you will save on labor costs per job. You will be able to improve your speed of production. Because products and parts can be updated in real-time, your release dates come quicker, and you shorten the time it takes to move to production. You will also have a better understanding of what parts are in-stock and what needs to be ordered at the CAD stage of a project, accelerating ordering and procurement timelines.

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