1 Reply Latest reply on Feb 13, 2013 7:55 PM by Daen Hendrickson

    Make to Order Manufacturer, Parts & Configurations

    Brian Mears

      Looking for some advice. I've joined a company who builds products that are mostly make-to-order or engineer-to-order. Our products are configurable by the customer - they pick from a list of options.One is length. So (for example) we offer a product with an extruded aluminum body in 2',4',6',8',and 12' length. For this product we'd set up a part file (body) with a configuration for each length. Each length has configurable features - cutouts in different locations. So let's say each length has three configurations, one for each cutout style. So I end up with the following list of configurations:


      2' - cutout style A
      2' - cutout style B
      2' - cutout style C
      4' - cutout style A
      4' - cutout style B
      4' - cutout style C
      6' - cutout style A
      6' - cutout style B
      6' - cutout style C
      8' - cutout style A
      8' - cutout style B
      8' - cutout style C
      12' - cutout style A
      12' - cutout style B
      12' - cutout style C


      ...15 configurations. Manageable, in my opinion, but then we get custom requests - custom lengths, custom cutouts, or combinations of these. Currently each custom spec is saved as another configuration in the same file, so my 15 configuration file keeps growing and growing, and features get added and suppressed, and I end up with a bloated, confusing mess that keeps getting worse.


      Some options I'm considering:


      -Set a rule that configurations are saved for standard options only, and that custom specs are saved separately (need to define how and where)


      -Save all files individually with each referencing a common part (the extrusion profile) so that changes to that base part propagate to all referencing parts.


      Also, I would like to be able to 'see' everything we've manufactured for a particular part, so if we get a custom order I could see if we've built that spec before and reuse if we have. We're not using PDM - will Workgroup PDM allow me to do a where used on the "common" part file and see what's been made from it? Without PDM I don't know of a way to do that.


      I'd love to hear how any of you handle something like this - appreciate anything you all have to offer. Thanks!



        • Re: Make to Order Manufacturer, Parts & Configurations
          Daen Hendrickson



          PDM Workgroup's Where Used functionality will do what you ask. The attached is the "where used" info on a bracket blank we get from an outside source. It shows that this blank is used in its drawing, in the finished bracket part, and five assemblies (the finished bracket is in the five assemblies).




          At first glance I think I would set things up like this:


          • A part file for the extrusion blank (without machining).
            • If you get your extrusion in bulk and cut to length having a part file representing this may help with order tracking/purchasing.
            • If your extrusions come cut to length then a part file with the lengths configured.
          • A part file for your STANDARD product (with machining)
            • Insert extrusion blank part into this part
            • Separate files versus configurations have benefits either way
            • Set up configurations for lengths with derived configurations for cutouts
              • 2' (No machining)
                • Cutout A
                • Cutout B
                • Cutout C
              • 4' (No Machining)
                • Cutout A
                • Cutout B
                • Cutout C
                • etc
            • Lock this file down. NO custom configurations.
          • Create a part template for custom builds.
            • Could be a copy of the STANDARD part file and then just delete configs and features not needed, make adjustments
            • Could have the cutouts and other features in a library and drag in what you need.
            • Each UNIQUE custom job should get a new and separate part number.
            • The length and cutout styles should also be captured in custom properties. You can perform a search on these properties in your PDMW vault to see if anyone has already created a 28.75" with cutout A.
          • Within the vault I would create a Project / Folder structure for STANDARD and another Project for Custom.
            • You could organize your vault by product line with each line having a STANDARD and Custom sub project
            • Or you could organize your vault with Standard and Custom as top level projects and then product line sub projects.
            • Or probably a half dozen other organizational schemes
            • Under the Custom Projects, you could further break it up with sub projects for cutout types
              • All Customs with Cutout A
              • All Customs with Cutout B
              • etc
            • Or you could break it up with sub projects for length groupings
              • All Customs between 0 and 2'
              • All Customs between 2' and 4'
            • These sub projects help in looking for items and in general, more projects with fewer files is a PDMW best practice.



          If you have access to PDMW please use it. It does have limitations, but it does what it does really well. I can't imagine trying to keep things managed without it. The learning curve is small and this forum is a great resource to get you started.


          Hope this helps.