Automation is “the method of making a machine, a process, or a system work without being directly controlled by a person,” according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. Automation is part of Industry 4.0, which has significantly changed the way companies, including fabrication companies, do business. Many automation strategies are aimed at medium or large companies. However, many of the fabricators in North America are actually smaller companies focused on a city or region.
Until recently, complete software (also known as IT) solutions for these smaller fabricators have not been available. That leaves these fabricators struggling to piece meal together different systems to remain competitive, including software aimed at different aspects of the business. These different aspects of the business can include financial, machinery, automation, operating cutting functions effectively, managing residuals, disturbing resources adequately, training personnel, and so much more.
Before we continue, let us address what “smaller fabricator” means. According to Nick St. Denis, director of research for Key Media & Research, a leading information provider to the glass industry, “Smaller glass fabricators (each with $10M or less in annual revenue) make up more than half of the fabricators in North America, yet account for less than 10% of the total market sales-wise.”
So, over half of the glass fabrication industry needs software solutions that help them address multiple needs, including automation, efficiency, worker and skill-level shortage, Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things (IoT), multi-site configurations, and so much more. Software suppliers up until now have overlooked the needs of the smaller fabricator. They have forgotten to tailor a solution that helps smaller fabricators better automate and manage their cutting functions, for example, without the higher cost of a full ERP solution. That is where A+W iCut, the newest addition to the A+W portfolio, comes in.
A+W iCut is an ERP system specifically built for smaller fabricators, who serve a specific region or local market with quick turnarounds and short lead times. When smaller fabricators supply smaller-scale projects, quick lead times, reliability, quality, order accuracy, and project timelines (just-in-time basis) are all essential to both the smaller fabricator and their customers.
How as a smaller fabricator can A+W iCut help you meet the needs of your customers? This cost-effective software solution manages your glass storage, provides multiple optimization options, efficiently and accurately steers your cutter, and synchronizes glass for downstream processes. That’s not all! It also provides a system to manage residuals. By utilizing a residual plate management system, you ensure that, in addition to stock plates, the optimization also considers your valuable residual plates in order to achieve the best yield.
By automating and streamlining different processes within the factory, fabricators can streamline their factory allowing for greater efficiencies. Of course, any software solutions depends on the machinery within the factory, so this should always be taking into consideration. This could lead to needing fewer workers, increasing revenue and yield, and decreasing waste. The same holds true for medium and large fabricators, but the possible effects within the factory can be seen on a greater scale in a smaller factory.
So, as your business grows, due in part to efficiencies gained at your cutter, additional A+W ERP functionality and tools can be added at a later time, such as A+W Business Pro, which is a professional and cost-effective software solution for small and medium-sized companies where order processing and production planning are completely integrated. You can also look at adding in A+W Logistics Optimizer designed to create and optimize the shortest routes taking into consideration your real fleet and the order data transmitted.
So, if you are a smaller glass fabricator looking for a state-of-the-art, cost-effective IT solution that automates your most frequently-used functions in the office, storage, and cutting? Then A+W iCut could become your new integrated software system, perhaps even the first step toward digitalizing your company.
To learn more about A+W iCut (and more features) for smaller glass fabricators, click here. Then we invite you to reach out to Josh Rudd at A+W Software to have a more in-depth conversation and online demonstration.