Welded Ring Products Co., a recognized leader in the circular manufacturing of alloys and specialty steels, has recently completed the full automation of its quoting process as part of an enterprise-wide implementation of Steel Viking Software developed by Fidelis Partners, Inc.
Welded Ring chose a phased implementation approach for the overall system project, with the automation of quoting serving as the first phase. This was followed by order-shipping-invoice management and raw material inventory and will soon be followed by plant floor production data capture, and support functions such as quality and maintenance.
“With this implementation, we have completely streamlined and computerized our quoting process without sacrificing the flexibility that is necessary with quoting.” says Alan Krupp, Welded Ring’s Process Control Manager.
Prior to the system implementation, Welded Ring’s estimating and quoting process was very established, although manual, within the organization.
Upon receipt of RFQ’s and drawings from the customer, the Engineering Department prepared the detailed estimate in an Excel-based model, after which members of the Sales Department confirmed or refined the pricing prior to issuance to the customer by the Office Manager.
While the former quoting process was workable, quote coordination was sometimes difficult, collection and management of relevant documents was cumbersome, and data for awarded quotes did not automatically flow upstream into Welded Ring’s manufacturing system.
“Not only did we see opportunities to save time and increase accuracy with a paperless quoting process, but we were excited about the ability of the new software to then forward the information into our manufacturing system.” according to Jim Allen, General Sales Manager.
Project and Solution
Fidelis worked closely with Welded Ring’s Sales, Engineering, and Administrative personnel to customize its software solution to fit the company’s future vision for quoting, including a visual workflow with reminders, automated email alerts, document sharing, and the forwarding of awarded quotes into the manufacturing system.
“From dealings with colleagues outside the company, I am aware of ERP system implementations that have gone poorly.” says Theresa Riddell, Assistant to the President. “This was not the case with this project. Fidelis was very attentive to the needs of each individual involved in the quote process and communicated on a level that was easy to understand.”
The developed quoting solution focused on several key features:
Reuse of current Excel-based quoting model: Welded Ring liked the flexibility and fit of its existing Excel estimating workbook. Fidelis designed the solution to prefill the workbook from system information, share it among quote reviewers during the workflow, and then import the resulting estimate data into the system once complete.
Visual workflow with alerts: As each step of the quoting process was completed, Welded Ring required that the quote be pushed to the next party, with a visual representation of the next step. Fidelis designed a “Quote Inbox” with email alerts and a “Workflow Toolbar” showing the quote’s progress in the flow. Once complete with his/her step, the assigned individual can then indicate completion, which moves the quote to the next step.
Paperless document sharing: Since each customer RFQ comes with several documents, including customer drawings and other support, Welded Ring wanted to collect these documents centrally and make them directly accessible with the quote. The software now allows for the sharing and access of all relevant documents throughout the quote workflow.
Auto issuance to the customer: Once approved, Welded Ring required standardized email issuance of the quote to the customer. With the click of a button, the software collects the necessary data and emails the quote to the customer, including the attachment of necessary drawings. If a quote is awarded, the system now feeds the pricing, raw material requirements, bill of materials, and routing forward into the system so that this need not be rekeyed by Customer Service.
Reports: Welded Ring received a variety of quoting metric reports and continues to develop reports to track quote status and effectiveness.
Jim Pachtler of the Welded Ring Engineering Department is primarily responsible for producing detailed estimates for each quote. According to Pachtler, “The new software has helped to speed up my process tremendously. All the necessary information is organized and tied together in one complete package with no loose ends.”
“This solution addresses our major quoting requirements in one clean sweep.” says Jim Allen. “Without producing any paper, we can move a quote from start to finish internally and issue highly professional quotes to our customers with confidence.”
Riddell concludes, “Fidelis created an automated quoting system that went above and beyond our original expectations. They were passionate when creating the new system for us and are responsive about making necessary changes to further enhance the program’s capabilities. We look forward to future phases of the project when Steel Viking is implemented throughout the organization.”
Steel Viking is designed to leverage information to deliver rapid payback to the mid-sized manufacturing organization. SV is a fully integrated solution that can be customized to an organization’s needs and implemented in short order at an affordable pricing point.