When it comes to manufacturing, there’s more than one way to cook an egg, as the saying goes. One of the standard methods for designing and building a product is Made to Order (MTO). Another more comprehensive process is known as Engineer to Order (ETO).

ETO manufacturing involves the creation of an entire product that is custom made to the desired specifications of a customer. This form of manufacturing is a complicated process and requires close collaboration between the manufacturing company and the client. Modern configure, price, quote software can help to simplify the ETO manufacturing process greatly.

Let’s take a look at the main components which go into engineer to order production.

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The Difference Between ETO and MTO

You may be familiar with the production process known as made to order (MTO) products. However, there’s a considerable difference between ETO and MTO, especially as it relates to complexity.

Generally, companies that use the made to order manufacturing process have a standardized product that customers can customize in specific ways. This might include size options, decorative components, or upgraded materials. When a customer places an order, production can begin immediately using the company’s existing designs.

CPQ top 10 guide download buttonThe customization goes much further with engineer-to-order products. Customers can order truly custom options that are unique to their requirements. Production for these products often requires a significant lead time to allow the manufacturer to engineer the custom product.

For example, imagine a manufacturer offering MTO fencing. They have a picket fence in vinyl or wood, and customers can choose different picket sizes, colors, and post caps. An ETO fencing manufacturer might allow customers to choose everything from the precise shape of the picket to the spacing between pickets and use various materials to create a design that’s one of a kind.

This example is a simplification, but it shows the level of work that might go into designing and retooling the manufacturing process to make this a possibility. You also have to realize this is a much more creative process than the more straightforward MTO products, and it requires close collaboration with clients.

Challenges with the ETO Process

Manufacturers interested in making the switchover to ETO production must realize that each product has its own set of problems and challenges. It’s hard to say what one or two challenges you might face in making the switch. But overall, these are the challenges you can expect to face:

  • Data management — First and foremost is the problem with all of the numbers flying back and forth between the manufacturer and the customer. You’ll need a management software system that can track all of the changes the product undergoes throughout this process.
  • Materials acquisition — You’ll need quality parts to make quality ETO products. This will mean you need to acquire these products from a variety of vendors or else make these components yourself.
  • Machine configurations — Finally, you will also need to make configurations to your manufacturing equipment. These types of engineering changes may result in additional costs, which need to be factored into the overall price of the product.

Benefits of Automating the ETO Process

CPQ Solutions White Paper Download imageYou can make this whole process easier by investing in automation software, which can streamline the process. Configure, price, quote (CPQ) software allows you to automate calculations, data management, parts acquisition, and creation.
What does this allow you to do? It lets you focus on the creative side of things. You can put more time and energy into making products that are innovative and pioneering. It also provides a competitive advantage by providing customers with significantly faster turnaround time.

How and Why Configure One Can Make Life Easier

If you’re interested in making the switch to ETO production, you need everything you can to make your business more competitive. That’s where Configure One’s CPQ software comes to the rescue. It allows you to create custom products with hundreds of customization options using parameters that are set by your engineers. This allows the sales staff to help customers create customized products without needing to go back and forth with the engineering department.

Here’s a look at some of the way Configure One’s CPQ software can help:

  • CAD drawings — Configure One’s software integrates with CAD software to automate the creation of production models and drawings. Along with turning a process that could take days or weeks into one that takes minutes, it also cuts down on errors by removing the human element. Since all of the limitations are accounted for in the software, your engineers can focus on other projects like designing new and innovative products.
  • Connecting to ERP — Configure One integrates well with many platforms of ERP software (Enterprise Resource Planning). This means you can instantly generate a bill of material for precisely what the customer orders using the item data from your ERP system. Since both systems work together, you don’t need to keep track of things across multiple platforms manually.
  • Competitive advantage — Finally, Configure One provides manufacturers with an edge over their competitors who aren’t using a robust CPQ application. Configure One stays ahead of the competition so you can too.
    The ability to offer custom engineer to order products makes a company much more competitive in the global manufacturing environment. Companies that only offer made to order products may find they’re becoming obsolete by those who are stepping up to innovate.