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Successful Implementation of Cable Design Software

Automating any business process using software should be a task that is undertaken with the aid of the software supplier. The supplier will bring fresh thinking into the procedure.

Robotics engineer looking at a laptop while working on robotic arms

Most good ideas fail, not because the idea is flawed, but because of improper implementation. Take, for example, the scenario of a wire and cable manufacturer purchasing and implementing a new software system.

Having invested in a high-end design software program, the manufacturer rightly expects to be able to use it to its fullest potential and to get the maximum return on investment as quickly as possible. The company, therefore, assembles a team of experts to plan and implement the software.

This team calculates how much time an individual design engineer saves and how the new software would speed up the design process. A presentation is then delivered to top management detailing the team’s findings and outlining the process involved in automating the existing process. The plan passes because it is perfectly aligned with the business objectives.

However, software implementation plans must be aligned with the process rather than just the objectives. In the above example, the cable manufacturer aimed to deliver quality product design services at the lowest possible cost and the quickest possible time.

The aging processes offered by the current system initially required an army of design engineers to work tirelessly to produce high-quality data sheets to a high level of completeness. The process worked well, and the company gained a good market share because of its quality of service.

However, a few years later, the cable industry changed. The cost of design engineers increased dramatically, which also increased the design engineers’ mobility and increased the cost of their recruitment. This fact made the above model highly inefficient and misaligned with the business objectives.

The subsequent high turnover of engineers resulted in a decline in the quality of customer service. The inexperience of the new engineers led to design and data sheet errors. Each design had to be checked to eliminate engineering mistakes. This increased the design department’s costs and time to produce a design.

This scenario is a clear example of how, on presenting to the board of directors, the automation of the process will appear to be the correct solution. However, in this case, the right solution would be to realign the design process to the business objective with the aid of automation.

By improving the process, the benefits of the software are much more significant. It not only can help cut down quotation time, but it can help reduce maintenance time, help improve the professionalism of the data sheet, and help reduce mistakes that can lead to costly scrap.

Let us look at the solution. The existing process needed to be simplified. Only a small fraction of customers require all the calculations currently being presented in data sheets. Each calculation requires time and, therefore, has cost implications. Reducing the data sheets’ complexity minimizes the time needed to check and maintain them. Customers who require a complete complex set of calculations on their data sheets, a drawing, or special instructions are less than 5% of the general market. Therefore, their cases will be treated as exceptions, and extra effort will be needed only for these customers. The calculations can be further automated with software to help reduce the engineering effort in making new designs and maintaining old ones.

A solution is also needed to retain engineers to improve consistency and maintain long-term relationships with the customer. Engineers are inherently creative. Automation helps free engineers from having to make mundane hand-produced or Excel calculations. Their talent can now be channeled into value-adding activities, such as product development and improvement, which must surely be high on the business objectives list.

The example above also highlights that circumstances and sometimes the company’s objectives will likely change. This fact needs to be considered when selecting and implementing a software system. A software system that gives you the greatest flexibility should be chosen, and an implementation approach that considers the changing nature of the process would be ideal.

Automating any business process using software should be a task undertaken with the aid of the software supplier. The supplier will bring fresh thinking into the procedure, which can be especially valuable when considering the automation of traditional processes, like cable design, sales, logistics, etc. It is, therefore, essential to pick the right supplier, or implementation partner, who can bring this insight to help align the process to the business objectives and the software system to the process.


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