The buzz of your alarm begins to sound and your mind is immediately transported to the office or makerspace. It’s only 7am and you’re already dreading the constant influx of emails and additional tasks that crop up throughout the day.
As a shop manager or engineering manager in the additive manufacturing space, there is a lot of pressure on you as a leader and often a great deal of difficulty comes from 3D print shop orders not being managed in the most efficient way possible.
This leads to you working too much, miscommunication between stakeholders, confusion among employees and less company profit.
Some of the pain points of a 3D printing shop manager might include:
- General order management using multiple, unrelated applications.
- Time requirement of having to undertake manual estimations for completion.
- A lack of connection meaning you are unable to monitor job statuses.
- Complex workflows thanks to custom-built systems and disconnected applications that create confusion.
- Constant emails leaving you little to no time to put your attention elsewhere.
Any one of these factors can make for a frustrating day as a manager. In this post, we are going to explore some of the common pain points and explain how cloud-based shop management software can help to make your day run more smoothly and your company more successful in the long term.
Pain Points of a Shop Manager or Engineering Manager
Hurdles when initially setting up shop
When initially setting up your factory print shop or workspace, issues such as meeting OSHA codes and trying to fit everything into your work space are factors that remain persistent as your business grows. For businesses that outsource for example, regulations can be particularly challenging because they vary from country to country.
Subsequently, you need to nip these potentially troublesome areas in the bud as soon as possible.
Business inventory management is a very real challenge for many company engineering managers. Although a tight inventory control and sales forecasts are two strategies that help with inventory management, companies are still battling with this conundrum.
As marketplaces continue to transform and customers become ever more vocal about their experiences, the need to provide an exceptional service at top speed is becoming the norm.
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Scheduling Print Jobs
Scheduling is the pivotal activity within the manufacturing and printing industry. It is a highly complex process too, since each job is essentially unique in terms of cost, volume, process and tooling requirements.
Most print companies have to operate on very short lead times and with little margin for error. Subsequently, insufficient production scheduling will ultimately decrease your company’s production capacity and overall profitability.
What’s more, manual scheduling, can prove inefficient since it takes up unprecedented time and effort.
Budgeting Print Jobs and Cost Tracking
The budget generally contains an estimate of how many units the company needs to produce, based on inventory and sales targets. It helps the company forecast production levels for periods when demand fluctuates.
Once your business is operational, as a manager, it's essential to plan and tightly manage your print jobs and overall financial performance. However, this is easier said than done without a way to track things like material usage, cost of labor for a specific machine, and other price estimations without an in-built cost calculator to tally the cost of each job submitted.
When you're running a busy business, it's easy to get bogged down in day-to-day production problems and forget the bigger picture. Constant emails, manual inputting and inefficient time requirements mean that engineering managers are often too caught up in their daily demands that budgeting is often put on the back burner, which in fact, it’s a core component of the role.
Acting as the Mediator for Engineers, Designers, and Manufacturers
Engineering managers unfortunately often act as the middleman between engineers, designers, separate departments, project leads, and manufacturers. Often their responsibilities include:
- Forward correspondence
- Manually input data into old Excel spreadsheets
- Pass on messages
- Filter through an ever growing inbox
Worse still, these un-organized requests can get lost via lengthy email threads with multiple colleagues ‘ccd’ and unnecessary chit chat thrown in for good measure. This makes workflow slow, inefficient and vulnerable to mistakes.
Managing 3D Print Shop Access
Having multiple people have access to your shop's printers can cause jobs to be held up due to people establishing their own job priority. Having no way to also place restrictions on specialized materials or technologies can cause unnecessary spending. Whether you have a single printer or a hundred, having a way to set permissions and who has access to what your shop has can also contribute to keeping within budget and wide scale tracking of jobs.
You may be having to manage manual check-ins from engineers/designers because everything isn’t available on one platform or put out manual notifications that an order is complete. It can be a real pain to have to continually check for updates or progress on a project instead of simply being notified when this is the case.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a software that could simply keep you, your employees, and your client in the loop when it comes to tracking jobs?
The answer is of course, a resounding YES!
How Work Order Management Software Can Help
The right work order management software can make your life as an engineering manager so much easier. It’s time you stopped wasting your time on tasks that could be easily taken care of through cloud-based production management software.
Its implementation will help you overcome the challenges of traditional work order management methodology and move towards a more efficient workflow.
Features of effective 3D printing management software include:
- Easy to use, track, and manage work orders.
- Receive alerts when jobs are ready.
- Manage permissions and roles.
- View and track statuses and due dates.
- Reach desired results by including manufacturing notes/specifications Communication in one centralized location.
- Easily calculate and communicate cost of work.
New Year, New Software
The right shop management software can take the pain out of day-to-day tasks and give you more time to concentrate on the actions that require your attention.
GrabCAD Shop, for instance, simplifies the traditional 3D print workflow so your team can achieve quality 3D printing in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Check out our page for engineering managers to learn more about the various benefits and features of Shop beyond the ones listed below!
Benefits of GrabCAD Shop include:
- Increased productivity and visibility for team members.
- Efficient and automated workflow enabling every party member to stay “in the loop” due to real time tracking and automatic notifications relating to modifications or completion of tasks.
- Less pressure on managers due to easy order management and clear/live completion time information.
- Improved cost savings through cost calculation for better cost communication since you will be able to provide pricing for the part to be completed, links to cost centers and switching between currencies.
- Connection between staff, clients and customers improves since GrabCAD Print works for Stratasys 3D printers and other third party machines.
- Access Control for greater management over the use of certain materials, technologies, and other shops within your organization.