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Start-to-Finish Factory Automation Is Right Now.

Federal Equipment is excited to announce that it is a supplier of TigerStop products! TigerStop is a global leader in stop gauge and material positioning systems & software…please read TigerStop’s article below on how it is providing real-time, end-to-end automation solutions.

August 6, 2020

We’ve all watched glamorous ads on national TV during the Super Bowl or some equally grand national spectacle. We’re talking about the types of ads that tout full customization and automation with real-time production. They describe an amazing future where customers order cars via their mobile phones and robots build cars in real-time and according to exact customer desires. Yes, global IT behemoths like IBM, Microsoft, SAP, et al. will one day enable a truly wonderful world. And maybe one day, we’ll all get a chance to experience a glimmer of instantaneous automation.

Well, the days of (nearly) instant customization and end-to-end automation are closer than you might think. And you don’t have to look too far to find it. You won’t find it in multinational IT firms or global car companies, though. You’ll see it being executed regularly by many small and mid-sized fenestration companies.

Yes, the fenestration industry is actively employing end-to-end automation from its order entry to design, build, ship, and invoice processes. There are dozens of window and door manufacturers receiving orders for customized products and then designing and producing these products in a manner that is pretty darn close to what those national TV ads are showing.

We’re in the middle of a phenomenal adoption of complete factory automation, and it’s fundamentally changing industry economics.

Customized Workflow with ERP Software—Not a Pipe Dream

Let’s look at the workflow of a make-believe fenestration company—let’s call it WindowTreats—using this software.

WindowTreats gets an inquiry for the replacement of energy-efficient windows for an apartment complex. The WindowTreats estimator visits the complex and takes many pictures and measurements, which are brought back to the WindowTreats designers.

The designers, using the CAD functionality of their ERP software, design window packages that fit the dimensions required. They can work on several different design options, and the costs of their customized designs are compiled automatically in the software via the pre-configured costed BOMs. The WindowTreats ERP system quickly and accurately generates estimates for the custom job—including all of the design options.

Once the order is won, WindowTreats designers instruct the software to release the order to production. Meanwhile, the ERP software confirms raw material supplies and alerts purchasers to order more if needed. The ERP software then provides the factory with assembly and sub-assembly drawings for the custom order. Then production begins.

Finally, with production done and the windows ready to ship, WindowTreats ERP software automatically invoices the customer and tracks payment.

The ERP software at WindowTreats plays a significant role in design, estimating, production initiation, and billing. For big custom jobs, this automation is the enabler. Think of the productivity gains and the accuracy improvements. Design, estimating, purchasing, billing, and such can all be automated with fewer manual handoffs. That means much greater accuracy and less time spent.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Sure, but would you be surprised to hear there is a missing link in our description of this fantastic workflow? Indeed, in spite of the automation described, which can seamlessly translate customer requirements from design to billing, the handoff to manufacturing is still mostly manual. This is where TigerStop factory automation plays a role.

Full Business and Factory Automation—Achievable Here and Now

The software at WindowTreats did an outstanding job of automating and managing the workflow of the data. Measurements, costs, BOMs, designs, bills, and so forth all work well in the ERP software. But at some point, this data must get translated into actual windows and doors. And if this translation/handoff is a manual process, a fenestration company may have added valuable automation around an error-prone and inefficient manufacturing process. It would be like re-roofing three-fourths of your house with a great leakproof and efficient roofing system but leaving the old, leaky roof on the remaining quarter. You’re still going to come home to a leaky roof—it’s a miserable feeling.

The good news is that TigerStop factory automation solutions provide the link to fully automate the handoff to manufacturing. Fenestration companies recognize TigerStop for the measuring automation and accuracy that TigerStop machines can provide. No longer do cut-off operators use tape measures or manual gauge systems, which are slow and often inaccurate.

With TigerStop, the user enters their part dimension into a keypad (dimensions to 1/100 of an inch can be entered), and that cut or machined part will be accurate to that dimension every time. TigerStops save thousands of companies around the world millions and millions of dollars from lost productivity and poor quality every day.

Every single TigerStop contains an API (application programming interface) that ERP companies can use to transfer production data for their custom designs directly to the TigerStops on the factory floor. When custom design orders are released to the factory, the actual build lists are transferred directly to the TigerStops with no paperwork or manual intervention. The user doesn’t even need to enter the dimensions into the keypad. There is no manual handoff of data or drawings. This is end-to-end, 100 percent, factory automation. And the best part is that this capability exists in all the software and TigerStop factory automation machines.

Call Federal Equipment to learn more about how TigerStop products can help improve your business. 631-467-9400