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10 Features Of Good Quoting System

SigmaQUOTE uses the SigmaNEST nesting engine, part database, and costing parameters to deliver accurate quotes after a speedy import of part geometry.
SigmaQUOTE uses the SigmaNEST nesting engine, part database, and costing parameters to deliver accurate quotes after a speedy import of part geometry.

Win contracts and standardize quoting practices with the latest software options

With all the latest and greatest software enhancements, quoting modules and systems can make it easier for shops to win contracts and expand their profit margin. When looking to implement a quoting module, shops should explore and consider a number of factors and features to ensure they are getting the right system for their manufacturing needs.

1. Expandable Options

With quoting software, one of the main features is its ability to calculate quotes. Regardless of shop size, whether it’s a small job shop or a large corporation, there are different options available to increase a fabricator’s bottom line. However, these modules are particularly suited for shops that do a significant amount of quoting.

Some OEMs that produce their own products may not need to quote every day. That’s not to say that the quoting modules won’t be helpful, but it may be use in conjunction with additional expansion modules for a more complete system and comprehensive view of the shop floor.

When choosing the right quoting module, it’s important to think of the future. Don’t be limited by only choosing a standalone option if there are expected areas of growth where an expanded package would make more sense.

2. Accuracy Is Important

An inaccurate quote can cost fabricators their hard earned dollars. Choosing a module that offers fast, accurate quotes is essential.

With today’s sheet metal pricing as high as it is, getting the most accurate quote and making sure that the software accounts for every bit of cost associated with the project can make all the difference. The last thing any fabricator wants is to underquote a project. The operation costs, whether its cutting, bending, or welding, need to be considered for accurate calculations. A software option that takes many of these factors into account will help fabricators provide detailed and correct quotes.

3. Win Quotes With Speed

Fabricators don’t have to spend an hour making manual quotes. With a fast and advanced quoting module, they can take parts or drawings from customers and can make a quote in as little as five minutes. The best part is that they can often send it to their customer before they walk away from their computer.

So for speed, data demonstrates that the quicker a shop can get a quote to its customer, the more likely it is to win the quote.

4. CAD/CAM Integration

Direct integration with CAD/CAM package can be a huge benefit for any fabricator. Using an integrated quoting module adds a lot of functionality including enhanced drawing features.

Not all drawings are clean and some can even be pictures of drawings on napkins or PDFs. Having integration provides tools to allow fabricators to clean up drawings and automatically adjust geometry. A filter feature, which can come with the quoting package, can be used to clean up tiny gaps, splines, or jagged geometry.

Not all quoting software is integrated with CAD/CAM and this might be an important feature for some shops that have that additional need to adjust drawings for more accurate quoting.

5. Production Quoting

Integration with CAD/CAM also allows for some advanced quoting features that consider production costs. Production quoting provides fabricators with a more comprehensive picture for more accurate quoting. This type of quoting is based on how parts are going to be nested or could be nested for manufacturing. It also takes into account the actual machine costs as well as all of the other operations.

The nested cost is especially important for accurate quotes. With many parts, it’s good to know how many sheets it would take to complete the project. Also, if there are many different parts or a big, long L-shaped part, it may include a lot of scrap material that can’t be salvaged. That needs to be worked into the cost as well.

Most fabricators are already set up with different scripts or equations that they use to calculate how much time it takes to do a certain operation. All the CNC cutting data is set up in advance. For a quote, the user just adds in the parts needed and which operations are needed and all the math happens in the background.

SigmaQUOTE allows jobs to be tentatively scheduled at the time of the quote, and modified after job creation, then pushed directly into production work order.
SigmaQUOTE allows jobs to be tentatively scheduled at the time of the quote, and modified after job creation, then pushed directly into production work order.

6. Move Straight to Production

Fabricators should look for quoting packages that can seamlessly move straight from the quote to production. If the quoting module is integrated with CAD/CAM and through an MRP/MES system, once a fabricator wins a quote, it can go into the software and easily change the status from quote to order with the click of a dropdown menu. Everything is taken care of automatically and it’s ready for production.

7. Scheduling Jobs

Some of the latest technology includes the ability for scheduling. This feature can schedule all the operations for the entire shop floor. With this, fabricators can actually preschedule the job before they accept the order. That way if a customer accepts the quote and wants to know how soon they can expect the project, all the information is available.

For shops that are often take on rush jobs, this can be huge benefit.

8. Wide-ranging File Formats

Choosing a quoting package that can import any file type is another huge plus. The last thing any shop wants to do is go back to a customer and tell them they cannot open the file and are unable to quote the project.

Today, there are so many different file formats that shops are expected to handle. They can get 20 different files formats from 20 different customers and whether it’s DXF, SolidWorks, Inventor, or any number of different free design program files, importing them should not be an issue.

9. Access to More

Look for a quoting module that is database driven that shows things like customer information, due dates, and all necessary line items. It should also be highly customizable so that fabricators can easily make adjustments.

For example, if a shop wants to give a customer a price break or discount, or if bulk pricing is needed, all that can be applied in the module. If a shop expects to do some negotiations and change the quoted price, the quoting package should have the ability for the price to be overridden and recalculated with the specific parameters dialed in.

A fabricator should also be able to perform revisions of the quote. Let’s say a customer comes back and asks for parts to be left out of the project or added in, then that can be entered into the software, which allows for traceability and proper accounting.

Database-driven systems can offer all sorts of tools to help with a shop’s day-to-day accounting. Look for built-in tools like reports and graphics. A user should be able to access information about all the quotes won, and those that have been lost. It can also give reports on how much profit a shop makes in a customized date range, and determines how much a job costs versus how much the average markup is. This information can help shops better quote for future projects and see historical trends in pricing and profit margins. All of that data should be readily available and shops should have the ability to pull various data points at any time.

10. Standardize quoting

A quoting system can benefit shops in many ways, but its features are really designed to standardize quoting. High-quality software should help a shop standardize operations across the board. Adding different features and modules will make this system even more powerful.

Without a quoting module, shops often have one or two people whose jobs are dedicated to quoting projects. This may work for some fabricators, but it can also be problematic for a number of reasons. Every worker may have their own way of quoting, looking at different metrics and parameters to calculate costs. This can lead to discrepancies and quoting fluctuations, and no historically standardized way to track how quotes have been handled. There also could be variance with the way the person quotes job to job.

If there are multiple people quoting projects, they could all quote the same job in different ways with different pricing and markups. This can lead to pricing errors and can make it very hard to predict costs and estimate profit margin projections.

Another concern is that if a shop only has one estimator, and that employee leaves, then a shop is left to train a new person to quote jobs. Inexperienced quoters may make calculation mistakes, leading to margin issues or costing errors. There may also be a period of time where quoting is both slow and inaccurate while the person is still learning the process, if there even is one in place.

With a quoting module, all this is automated and standardized. The calculations, costs, markups, production metrics, and all available data is applied and used for the system to properly quote a project. With it, fabricators can get the same quote every time based on the same metrics and workflow, no matter who is using the software. It brings shops that sense of stability that is so important for best business practices.

By Wayne Cathers is Product Owner of Business Systems for SigmaNEST.
Published in Canadian Fabricating & Welding, August 2021
Lindsay Luminoso, Associate Editor

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