Manufacturers Eliminate the “Bottleneck” by using Metal Building Software
All metal building manufacturers are familiar with the dreaded bottleneck. It is that part of your production process that keeps all other parts from reaching their full potential. For some it is in estimating, some design, and others detailing and drafting. Once you know where the bottleneck is, how do you remove it? In this article we will examine potential solutions to removing the bottleneck. We will look at each major step in the production process and offer some advice in streamlining this process.
Fast, accurate quoting is a key for many manufacturers. If you can quote a building within an hour or less, the client will be impressed. Better yet, if you can fax a price, sales contract, a 3D drawing of the building and an anchor bolt plan in less than an hour, the client will really be impressed. Metal Building Software (MBS) Inc. can provide you with the tools to do exactly that. Even better news for your company is, at MBS they don’t estimate buildings. MBS provides hard costs based on the accurate design and detailing of each particular building. The more accurate the cost, the better control you have on your profitability. Each component is designed and detailed, everything from designing the size of wind bents to counting the last screw. How many times have you quoted a building and missed something on the contract? MBS cannot eliminate human error, but it can keep you from quoting a price based on incorrect information. By printing the contract directly from MBS, everything contained on the contract has been accounted for. If a hand written contract is used, something might be missed.
In some manufacturers, your bottleneck is in design. Here the key is to have your engineers spend less time on “simple” buildings. MBS will design/detail/draw dozens of building features: wind columns, and wind bents (portal frames), eave and gable extensions, canopies, facia, crane brackets, strut purlins, multi-surface frames, lean-to and mezzanine loading, among others. Taking the “simple” out of “simple buildings” allows your engineering staff to concentrate on more complex projects. You won’t be afraid to bid the complex buildings if you have software that can handle it. It would take a seasoned metal building engineer days to design an unsymmetrical, multi-surface building with varying base elevations, cranes, mezzanines, lean-tos, eave extensions, canopies, and partial walls. MBS can handle this building in a matter of minutes.
Here is the big one. Most manufacturers have their bottleneck in detailing. Counting every screw, calculating every panel length, determining every hole location. This is where most of the time is spent and where most of the mistakes are made. It is tedious repetitive tasks. This kind of work is exactly what personal computers were designed for. Just like in design, MBS wants to eliminate having to spend time on “simple” buildings. After a building is sold, it is reviewed by the engineer, spot-checked by detailing and sent off to the shop. There will be no hand editing of the drawings in CAD. Every aspect of the building will be designed, detailed, priced, and printed directly through MBS software.
Shop automation is becoming more and more advanced. More accuracy, more efficiency, less scrap, less staff. MBS provides several ways to increase productivity in the shop. Scaled shop drawings are produced in a DXF format. This allows clips, web plates, stiffeners, etc. to be directly imported into any nesting or plate processing software. In addition, MBS allows you to define your own set of standard parts and pieces. Standardization of the shop process eliminates errors and increases productivity.
The entire sales, design, detailing, and shop process need to be tied together. MBS can provide an “electronic” trail that follows each job through. When a job is ready for the shop, a customized report can be produced by MBS for your accounting software. Accurate job costing can give you a better handle on your profitability. Inventory control is handled by yet another customized report automatically generated by MBS. Keeping a close tab on inventory allows the manufacturer to only have needed stock on hand.
A complex building consists of two or more buildings placed adjacent to each other. Each basic building is fully processed by MBS without any duplication of part numbers. Routines are available to have each adjacent building work together. For example, options are available for the girts/purlins of one building to extend into the adjacent building. The MBS program prepares a 3D drawing of the complex building and, if desired, a combined shipping list for the complete building.
Summary: Improving Productivity
Improved productivity comes from using software that turns out the final product in a form that meets your needs. This includes design, detailing, shop drawings, shipping lists, erection drawings and links to the shop, accounting, and inventory control. Look at your current methods and note the man-hours that can be saved when the process is completely handled by the MBS Software. About the authors: Dr. James L. Jorgenson holds a BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in civil engineering. His background includes teaching, research, and consulting in the area of metal buildings. In 1986, Jorgenson founded Metal Building Software, Inc., a software supplier to 4,000+ users on six continents. Dean T. Jorgenson holds a BS in civil engineering. He is President of MBS. Before taking a position with MBS, Jorgenson spent seven years as a project manager with a large civil/structural-consulting firm in Minneapolis, MN. For more information on Metal Building Software, please visit: mbsweb.com