Manufacturers are challenged with a variety of product variations and versions, custom orders, engineering changes, demanding customer requirements while still having to innovate and grow their businesses. In order to be successful and ensure product quality, it is necessary to be able to capture every requirement and change accurately while keeping the flow of information moving throughout the organization.
To help, many manufacturers are investing in an end-to-end ERP solution like Microsoft Dynamics AX, and working with partners who have a depth of experience in implementing project engineering solutions to help manage change, improve collaboration, access data and reuse products.
One area that especially is important to manufacturers, specifically industrial equipment manufacturers, is the ability to reuse components and avoid “reinventing the wheel” by assigning attributes to products and components that match and meet certain requirements and are already tested.
Let’s look at an example of how using the a product engineering tool built in Microsoft Dynamics AX can help solve issues with product or component reuse:
Challenge – Purchased items are sometimes duplicated due to inconsistent naming conventions.
Solution – Establish consistent data criteria and assigning attributes to various parts or components
How can a Product Engineering module help?
Most companies attempt to use item descriptions to control the component. These are the same item:
- 10-32 X .875 SS FH PH W/NY
- Screw, 10-32 X 7/8” Stainless, Flat Head, Phillips, Nylok
Without data normalization, how would an engineer know that the record already exists?
Procedures must be put in place to ensure that consistent criteria are followed
- Free-form naming conventions can make this difficult.
- Attribute based systems allow for the criteria to be assigned consistently.
- Solution Example
Using the Engineering Product type feature, you are able to define required attributes for component families. The example below is for a product type “Screws”.
The following attributes has been assigned to the “Screws” product type:
- Hardware Type – This is a common attribute shared by other types of hardware.
- Hardware Size – This attribute allows for the diameter and thread count of the screw to be defined
- Screw Length – The length of the screw with a selectable unit of measure
- Hardware Material – This is the material callout for the screw
- Screw Head – This attribute defines the head type of the screw
- Screw Drive – This attribute determines the interface type to drive the screw into place.
Upon selection of the engineering product type while creating a new part number record, the attribute become fields that may require input to complete the part number record.
These attributes can drive the systemic creation of the part description field. The Engineering product type has the capability to map the attributes into the description field.
Here is the attribute formula for the part description:
The following new item has its description created automatically at the attribute values are selected.
Now that the data is in place, parts can be searched for based on attributes.
This search would allow you to see all 10-32 Button Head screws in the database.
As you can see, the flexibility of Microsoft Dynamics and a project engineering solution allows industrial equipment manufacturers to structure attributes to meet specific needs. This structure allows companies to leverage the reuse of components, reducing costs, improving response times and increasing cash flow due to reduced stock items.
By Norman Carmichael, Manufacturing Practice Director at Columbus. Columbus is an award-winning Microsoft Dynamics ERP Partner, serving companies around the globe in the food, retail and manufacturing sectors. Learn how industrial equipment manufacturers are benefiting from the ColumbusADM Product Engineering tool and how it can help your organization.