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Seeing Clearly: 6 Ways Visibility Drives Manufacturing Innovation

Seeing Clearly: 6 Ways Visibility Drives Manufacturing Innovation

When you’re making complex machined parts, every decision counts.

As the Estimating & Purchasing Lead at Reata Engineering & Machine Works, I make many different types of decisions every day—some more critical than others.

I recently helped procure materials for a life-saving medical device: a retractable device made of lightweight titanium that can be folded and expanded, designed to assist surgeons in combat and other emergency situations. With over 30 components, most of which are crafted by our company, it’s a true feat of engineering. The device was so powerful and dramatic-looking that it even made an appearance on Grey’s Anatomy!

Reata Engineering medical device

This precision titanium construction holds open the abdominal cavity during surgical procedures without the need for a stabilizing post, simplifying surgical exposure and saving valuable time in the operating room.

Our ability to win the contract and deliver on time and on budget was a testament to our team’s ability to collaborate, work efficiently, and manage risk across the entire supply chain. So how did we ensure we were meticulous without sacrificing all our time overanalyzing every decision?

The Power of Centralized Visibility in Quoting and Estimating

Centralized visibility of your quoting and estimating process is a game-changer, especially when working on parts with complex features, tight tolerances, or 5-axis geometries. Here are six ways centralization can benefit your shop:

1. Mistake prevention

One of the most significant advantages of quoting out of a centralized system is having the ability to add and access notes from previous jobs, preventing new or repeat mistakes. Jotting down important details or instructions as you quote and having that information flow seamlessly to every job associated with that project minimizes errors and ensures consistency and clarity.

2. Continuous improvement in the supply chain

By having all pertinent information readily available in our quoting system, we can identify areas for optimization and implement strategic changes to enhance efficiency. Saving time and reducing waste allows for a more sustainable and cost-effective operation.

3. Scrap reduction

Speaking of waste, centralized visibility plays a crucial role in reducing scrap. With access to comprehensive data on materials, specifications, and past performance, my team and I can make informed decisions that minimize the likelihood of errors and defects. This not only saves money but also helps us better uphold quality standards.

4. Better communication

The more you see, the more you know, and the better you can communicate. When everyone has access to the same information in one centralized location, communication barriers are broken down and collaboration flourishes. Whether that means sharing insights, providing context, or brainstorming solutions, centralized visibility empowers us to work together more effectively.

5. Innovation

Centralized visibility encourages more thoughtful innovation. With a platform like Paperless Parts that streamlines the end-to-end quoting process, we’re able to focus more energy on creative problem-solving and strategic decision-making. This has accelerated our team’s pace of innovation and job profitability across the board.

6. Business resilience

Ultimately, centralized visibility is essential for protecting business longevity. By providing a solid foundation for efficient operations, effective communication, and informed decision-making, centralized visibility safeguards companies against risks and challenges, ensuring resilience and sustainability in an ever-changing market landscape.

Turning Theory into Reality

Every minute wasted on inefficiencies is a minute that could have been spent moving projects forward and satisfying customers—which in some cases means saving lives.

When it came to the life-saving tool our team manufactured, having centralized access to our data made every step of the journey smoother and more efficient. It was easier to navigate the complexities of design iterations, manufacturing processes, and regulatory approvals with precision and confidence. The device was put into use in the field at the end of June 2022, and it saved three lives during surgeries performed over that Fourth of July weekend. Nothing validates your hard work quite like that.

As modern technology continues to shape the manufacturing industry, I encourage shops never to underestimate the power of connection. You can invest in the world’s best machinery and most brilliant employees, but silos will limit potential and slow progress. When we connect the science of advanced technologies with the art of human intelligence, we pave the way for innovation that leaves a lasting impact on our world.

See how Paperless Parts can help you get more visibility into your quoting process.

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Tawny Bush has a diverse background in the manufacturing industry. Currently serving as the Estimating & Purchasing Lead at Reata Engineering & Machine Works in Englewood, CO, Tawny brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role. Recognized with the NTMA Emerging Leaders Award in 2022, she’s known for her attention to detail and commitment to excellence.