The Design Pipeline Problem
In 2018, Arch-Fab made a significant investment to upgrade the design documents that we use internally and externally to communicate our scope of work for each project in our pipeline. We directed most of our resources into a new software, SolidWorks 3D Professional, which is a best in class 3D modeling software for the manufacturing industry. All new systems come with challenges.
One of the specific challenges that we encountered was that the Bill of Material (“BOM”) extract from SolidWorks required our Project Planner to spend .5 hour per BOM on average to combine and reorganize line items to effectively communicate to our Purchasing Manager what the material demand was for the project.
Another obstacle that we had to overcome was how to provide easy and efficient access to our standardized fabrication drawings. By establishing a catalog of part numbers, we were able to create a library of fabrication drawings that could be reused as opposed to a designer re-creating every part drawing for each project. This advancement in the design process creating a pinch point for our Production Team because they were having to search for individual part number drawings and print them off one at a time. This process was taking approximately .5 hours per production release.
Our Solution to the Problem
Asim Hasan developed a solution for challenge #1. Through a series of complex formulas in Microsoft Excel, Asim was able to group part numbers together and cumulate the values. This optimization of the BOM automated the summarization of the BOM and saved .5 hour of Curtis Herron’s time per production release. The Design Team was able to incorporate the optimization of the BOM into their process by copying the SolidWorks BOM extract values in to the new Optimizer and saving it on the server.
Jeff Cash, with the help of Sean Scanlan and Asim Hasan, was able to program a solution to streamline access to fabrication drawings for Ben Davis, Mike Hernandez and many others. Through more Excel formula development, Jeff was able to automate the generation of hyperlinks directly to the fabrication drawing file. This allowed Ben and Mike to open all of their drawings from the Production BOM into a single Adobe Acrobat (PDF Viewer) window. Sean Scanlan installed Adobe Acrobat Pro on their computers which allowed Mike and Ben to print all the drawings opened in tabs across the same window with a single print command.
These innovations saved the company 1 man hour per production release and approximately $20,000 per year.