Sheet metal fabrication enables developing strong parts with application-based folding, joints, material, and designs. Such parts have higher operational life and durability; hence cost-effective.
However, custom designing, machine tooling, and labor are not cheap. If not handled correctly, metal fabricators can end up spending more than planned.
Factors That Increase The Cost Of Fabricating Custom Sheet Metal Parts
There are several factors that contribute to the rising costs of custom sheet metal fabrication. Custom sheet metal parts like in building products such as door frames, sheet metal doors, enclosures, panels, etc. pass through several machining operations. Cuts, bends, surface finishes, etc. can be costly and if not done right they tend to increase scrap.
Some elements and issues leading to flawed fabrication of custom sheet metal parts include:
- Delayed design cycle: Customization in standard design takes time, demanding the designer to go back to square one and redevelop fabrication drawings from scratch or modify the current design. During this process, there are queries that require resolutions from end customers.
- Loss of customers due to delayed response: When designers are working as per customer’s requests to develop approval models, customers often get frustrated due to time-consuming processes. Eventually, they are irritated and cancel the orders.
- Waste of raw material and increased scrap: Flawed fabrication results in higher part rejection, ultimately increasing raw material and costs.
- Mismanaged order quantity: Often, while working under pressure to meet deadlines, fabricators end up over ordering the raw material to avoid the last-minute hassle. If unused, surplus material goes to waste adding to total project costs.
While there are several precautions and tips that fabricators should take care of during the fabrication process to control the costs, many design processes can further boost these checks.
If we look at the project cost-inducing factors, most of them can be rectified by accelerating repetitive modeling and drafting tasks.
Platforms like DriveWorks along with SolidWorks and integration with third-party nesting software or Cam Works can cut up to 70% of design cycle time accelerate design.
Additionally, these tools also help improvise customer response time. It all leads to better control over project cost for custom sheet metal parts fabrication.
4 Ways Design Automation Helps Reduce Custom Sheet Metal Fabrication Cost
1. Faster Design Customization
Design automation, as the name suggests, automates a whole bunch of non-productive tasks such as modeling and drawings creation.
For example, when a fabricator receives two different orders for fabricating sheet metal enclosures with the same but different designs his drafting time increases drastically.
Instead of going back to the primary CAD model and reworking it from scratch, design automation platforms can do it with a few clicks. With DriveWorks, the sheet metal fabricator can simply deploy a configurator with logical rules and can use the master model in CAD that can be customized later.
An explosion protection panel manufacturer in the UK implemented DriveWorks to accelerate the generation of customized models and drawings for sheet metal enclosures. Logical rules lead to faster design creation and recalculated power dissipation. It helped optimize overall costs.
2. Faster And Immediate Response To Customers
As personalization rises, design and engineering lead times also increase. But customers won’t wait in a highly competitive market.
With design automation, you can develop online product configurators – a powerful sales tool that helps your sales team on the field. It helps your customers quickly create custom designs and offers proper assistance even in absence of a sales rep.
By deploying a configurator, you eliminate outdated and tedious spreadsheets and share sales quotes immediately. This helps the customer with proper information, delivery date, and accurate pricing.
In case of any change in timelines, the customer can be updated through automated mailing systems. It creates a better brand image for your company. This way, when customers are kept in the loop, the chance of losing them reduces.
3. Fewer Errors In Manufacturing Drawings
Usually, during customization, when drawings are created from scratch, designers are working under pressure to meet deadlines. And on the other side, they meet constant revisions for delivering exact design intent. Thus, they often end up having several errors or miss out on the details.
Many times, these errors are detected later during manufacturing. Such shortfalls not only delay the manufacturing process but also hamper the delivery timelines, waste raw materials, increase cost and build a bad reputation in the market.
By using design automation, you can create master models which are later customized through tested logical rules. Macros and logical rules are deployed to customize the drawings leave no room for errors that occur in manual drafting.
They adhere to strict quality control and no checks are missed. They help emphasize better control over drawing output and in adherence to the machining capabilities.
4. Manage BOMs And Order Quantities Digitally
Custom BOMs are difficult in the case of multi-component assemblies and parts. Going back and forth from CAD to Excel and back to CAD, doing manual calculations for quantity, and updating the pricing list is a tedious task. Not to mention, these calculations also change with changing prices. Thus, they are erroneous.
Instead, with design automation, you can create custom macros or use the logical rules engine of 3D product configurator to automate and customize BOMs.
These tools directly fetch data from approved 3D models and drawings and create a BOM list which can be exported to Excel, MS Word or PDF as well as we can integrate with ERP or inventory.
Sheet metal doors and frame manufacturer from Australia dealt with 30-35 different types of customized product mixes. They implemented SolidWorks and VBA tools to develop an Excel-based configurator leading to the elimination of design errors completely. The project proved to be cost-effective as MS Excel is relatively an economical tool.
Custom product fabrication made of sheet metal is a huge industry, and fabricators can yield big profits if done rightly. But at the same time, there are a few aspects related to customer attention, design development, and documentation that they need to take care of to keep costs well under control.
To ensure that the project costs do not go overboard, there are automation tools that control the time taken in custom design development – which is an elementary aspect in building products fabrication.
These automation platforms along with CAD systems help speed up designing, drafting, and modeling, as well as keep customers updated to minimize the risk of losing sales orders.
If you are a custom building products sheet metal fabricator, it is time you make the move from standalone CAD to automation tools with CAD to enhance efficiencies and control costs.