As Industry 4.0 approaches, manufacturers and machine shops need to modernize or risk getting left behind. Every opportunity to optimize should be maximized, especially when it comes to internal processes and customer service. As a crucial part of winning business, quoting is full of opportunities for optimization. By leveraging new trends and technologies to streamline quotes and estimates, machine shops can gain the competitive edge they need to succeed.
Hindered by ERP Software
AxXis Corporation (AxXis), established in 1959, is a full-service CNC machine shop that produces high-quality machined parts and components for several specialized industries, from aerospace and military to power generation. AxXis’ quoting system was run by one employee, Dave Butler, sales manager, who spent 10-11 hours per day quoting and completed approximately 1,000 quotes per year.
Before AxXis modernized its quoting process, Dave won 30% of his quotes. At the time, AxXis used an ERP software to manage its quoting, but it didn’t provide the information management capabilities needed to optimize the process. When a prospect or buyer sent AxXis a request for quotation (RFQ), the ERP software required Dave to fill out a stringent entry form that asked for an excess of data. So, rather than flood the ERP software with data it wouldn’t need unless AxXis won the order, Dave found it easier and faster to print out the RFQ and take physical notes on it – from how to run the part, to material costs.
This process created challenges related to productivity and version control. Not only was it inefficient to make hand-written notes on printed RFQs – which would later need to be re-entered into the ERP software – but Dave was the only employee who could easily access and understand his notes. With critical data living in several places, the quoting process was both time-consuming and prone to error. Similarly, AxXis’ quoting analytics lived on an Excel spreadsheet, making it difficult to track and find information – like when a quote came in and went out or to why the quote was won or lost. Because of this process, important data was often missed.
The ERP software was not user-friendly, so Dave would often need to contact its customer support team. However, he would have to wait days to hear back. This bottleneck frequently prevented AxXis from meeting its goal to deliver quotes within 48 hours.
AxXis needed a new quoting solution.
Overcoming Inefficiency with Modern Quoting Software for Job Shops
Dave learned about the Paperless Parts, the cloud-based, ITAR-compliant paperless quoting platform, and despite his hesitance to adopting new software, Dave was fully onboarded in less than two days. In fact, the Paperless Parts team helped Dave learn how to quote in real time, so business was never disrupted. After a successful training, AxXis adopted the Paperless Parts quoting software for its user-friendliness and modern approach to quoting.
The Paperless Parts Platform optimizes and expedites the intake process for RFQs. AxXis installed the Paperless Parts Smart RFQ™ form on its website, which prioritizes ease of data entry and getting quotes out the door. As soon as customers request a quote, AxXis is notified and the quote is automatically created in Paperless Parts with all critical information already entered. Having the Smart RFQ™ form in Paperless Parts was far more efficient than receiving RFQs from multiple sources, and helped reduce human error. As a result, Dave is often able to deliver quotes within 24 hours – beating AxXis’ 48-hour goal. If AxXis does win the business, Dave can go into the ERP software and reroute the data to take next steps.
Paperless Parts also streamlines quoting by leveraging geometric features to power AxXis’ pricing formulas. The platform quickly captures the real cost of manufacturing with part-level operations, pricing templates, and the ability to add yield rates, markups and overhead costs. Consequently, customers receive highly accurate quotes, and AxXis is able to standardize pricing. The Paperless Parts geometry engine also saves engineering time by analyzing parts based on various manufacturing processes to identify potential issues, such as tight corners and deep holes or areas that require special tooling.
Once quotes are generated, AxXis sends customers a digital quote with 3D previews of parts, making it easier to confirm its precision. From there, customers can accept the quote online, and even order directly through an integrated shopping cart. AxXis’ customers appreciate the seamless availability of the digital quotes, and feel safe knowing their data was secured on ITAR-compliant servers.
The AxXis team also benefits from the modern look and feel of the Paperless Parts Platform. The software provides a centralized repository to store all RFQs and quotes, so users can reference historical data to inform and speed up future quoting. The platform also eliminates the sprawling Excel spreadsheets and physical notes altogether. By standardizing the process and helping AxXis to go completely paperless, multiple users can quickly access and find any information they needed to implement an order.
With the ability to deliver quotes more quickly and accurately, AxXis was able to scale back the use of its ERP software and further support core ERP functions, such as scheduling. For instance, by providing more visibility into the status of quotes, Paperless Parts helps AxXis employees better understand project timelines so they could schedule jobs more precisely in the ERP.
“Before Paperless Parts, I was winning 30% of my quotes – and today, I’m winning 44%,” said Dave. “By processing quotes faster – without losing any accuracy – I can deliver the immediacy that customers need and expect. My goal is to be winning 66% of my quotes in the near future, and I believe it’s absolutely possible with Paperless Parts.”
Whenever Dave has a question regarding the platform, he can contact the Paperless Parts customer success team and receive a response in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed. Additionally, the platform has already delivered on its promised value, as AxXis is one quote/order away from having paid for the first full year of the software.