How SmartFactoryKL uses the proALPHA Product Configurator
It is difficult to imagine any smart factory without product configurators. But why is that and what exactly does the use of our product configurator look like in the SmartFactoryKL? We talk to Markus Berg, Head of Development in Business Processes at proALPHA, on this subject.
Head of Development in Business Processes at proALPHA
- Brief background check: How does our cooperation with SmartFactoryKL look like?
We have been working with SmartFactoryKL for over 9 years now. We develop concepts with other members that will help us to face the future challenges of production. Nowadays, innovation and product life cycles are becoming steadily shorter while the demand for individual products is increasing. This is where production must provide a high degree of flexibility in order to be and remain successful in the market.
We focus on small and mid-sized enterprises in the manufacturing industry that have to master all these challenges on a daily basis. Therefore, it is important for us to develop innovative production methods together with SmartFactoryKL while adapting our software to trends from Industry 4.0 and to the use of AI methods.
- The proALPHA product configurator has been introduced in SmartFactoryKL. How exactly is it used there?
proALPHA is used as the ERP system in the SmartFactoryKL demonstrator: from order entry to data entry and completion notice, our software is fully integrated into the plant. Individual and flexible production as well as lot size 1 play an important role here. In order to map these aspects efficiently, the product is configured via our product configurator, including an interactive 3D view of the product available already during the configuration process. The configuration is then transmitted to the plant without further manual intervention to start production. The automatic data entries on the individual production steps ensure that the progress in the production process can be viewed in proALPHA at any time.
9 Advantages of product configurators in sales
A quick and cost-efficient way to meet individual customer requirements
To the article!
- What is so special about the proALPHA product configurator?
The product configurator is deeply integrated into our ERP system. Not only can the usual configurations be created and validated in 3D during the process. The product configurator can also start the production process directly, generate the drawings via a CAD linking, perform a cost calculation – and, if desired, generate configuration-specific instructions.
Thanks to the integration into the ERP system, all this can be done, for example, by an employee from the sales department, who doesn't need the engineers, work preparation or expertise in feasibility. The configuration can also be done directly by the customer using a B2B portal. The end-to-end integration in proALPHA ensures that the configurator always uses current data – such as correct prices.
- Why is it impossible to imagine the smart factory without product configurators?
Customers want their products to be as flexible and individual as possible. Product configurators help to make this economically feasible. Otherwise, the additional work involved in preparation and design would be far too high for lot size 1 production.
- How can small and mid-sized enterprises benefit from product configurators?
Especially small and mid-sized enterprises offer high flexibility when dealing with their customers. If possible, special requests are always met. A configurator helps to meet the requirements in a more efficient way. Thus, companies can save a lot of costs and time.
In addition, the use of such an end-to-end integrated product configurator like ours also ensures compliance with the processes and thus significantly reduces the possibility for errors.
- What recommended courses of action can be derived from the implementation in SmartFactoryKL?
Industry 4.0 is practicable. More and more of our customers are addressing this issue and starting to implement projects: whether it is to generate new business models, to make production more efficient or to increase quality.
The use of a product configurator in the context of Industry 4.0 is a logical step that contributes to an increased efficiency in many cases.