Engineer-to-Order Manufacturers and Design Engineers

According to Roger Meloy of ETO ERP leader Encompix,Guest Posting based in Cincinnati, OH, “If you ask design engineers what an ERP system means to them, you are likely to hear something like “nothing” or “more work.” To most design engineers, an ERP system is either irrelevant or it is perceived as something that requires additional time and effort, often providing little or no value. One reason for this perception is that most ERP systems are not integrated with the design engineer’s drawing tool.

Traditional ERP systems were developed for the repetitive, make-to-stock manufacturer, where there is a clear demarcation between design and production. In that environment the engineer designs the product in a CAD application. After testing and prototyping, the product is released to production, which is managed by the ERP system.

The design engineer has little or no interaction with the ERP system and works quite happily in a CAD environment. Following the work of the design engineer, a production engineer then creates a bill of material (BOM), based not on how the product is designed but how it will be manufactured.

In the Engineer-to-Order (ETO) world the role of the design engineer is very different. By its nature an ETO company builds a unique product designed to meet the specification of a single customer. The two worlds of design and manufacturing are closely linked. In many cased the design of the product continues through the product process (design-in-process), incorporating a multitude of engineering changes. These changes can be driven by the customer or by the manufacturer. In this environment a seamless flow of data between engineering and production is critical. An ETO company must integrate CAD and ERP.