The Product Configurator is software that is an integral part of the Epicor Kinetic ERP system. It allows for creating the optimal – on a case-by-case basis – configuration of the individual components that make up the product. In doing so, it considers all the options available to the customer and, on the other hand, eliminates their impossible combinations. It is intended primarily as a tool to support work with customers but provides many more benefits.
The Configurator allows not only configuring a custom product but also – in real-time – it will check inventories and determine whether all necessary parts for swift manufacture of the product are available; if not, it will indicate the approximate lead time for the defined configuration. The Configurator will also calculate the price of such a product. This dramatically speeds up and streamlines the work of the account managers who process orders. During the first call with a customer, it is possible to match the product to their expectations, answer all critical questions, and launch the manufacturing process if the customer goes ahead with the purchase.
In the traditional approach, a salesperson would first have to ask the customer questions about the product and the various options, such as colors, dimensions, or manufacturing standards, write down all the answers, and then pass them to the technologist in charge of manufacturing. The technologist, in turn, would prepare a bill of materials and specify all technological operations, e.g., that something needs to be cut or that, in a particular case, a non-standard kind of adhesive or paint needs to be used. Only after some time, the salesperson could get back to the customer with a complete offer.
However, thanks to the Configurator, everything happens automatically in real-time. And on top of that, without errors. What’s more, the person taking the order doesn’t need to know the aspects of the product’s manufacturing technology. Instead, they have a questionnaire displayed to them, ask the following questions, and enter the answers received; the Configurator generates a virtual product, checks the availability of the necessary components, prepares a quote, and determines the approximate production date.
The customer immediately knows that they will pay a specific price for a red product and will have to wait a week longer for a blue one. Similarly, they will instantly know whether they can count on fast delivery if they request additional components for the product and how much they will pay for other services – like installation or shipping. The price of these services will also be calculated immediately by the Configurator. It will take into account the place of delivery and calculate shipping costs. When taking an order, the software will also create instructions for employees who are ansible for production.
Consequently, the entire order-taking process is significantly shortened, and, as a result, more customers can be served. At the same time, errors that could typically occur when working manually or semi-automatically are avoided. The salesperson may misinterpret the customer’s requirements or imprecisely communicate them to the technical engineer. Because of this, the latter could prepare a faulty bill of materials or pick the wrong production technology.
With the Configurator, service quality, and customer satisfaction will ultimately increase. They instantly find out if they can get the product in a particular configuration when they receive it and how much they will pay for it. They can decide to buy instantly.
The Configurator is a lifesaver for all companies specializing in MTO – customized, unique products made to order. From the perspective of such companies, entering orders has always been a problem. It sometimes happened, unfortunately, especially in large companies with numerous charges, that a customer ordered square green products and received round yellow ones instead. That’s why the automotive industry has long used configurators. Today, however, thanks to tools like Epicor Kinetic, they are also being used, for example, by manufacturers of doors, windows, furniture, various industrial machinery and equipment, industrial packaging lines, kitchens for restaurants, and many, many other MTO products. If the product is tailored to the customer’s dreams or to the specific dimensions of the rooms where it will be used, the Configurator is perfect for such a situation.
Some modern ERP systems, like Epicor Kinetic, have more or less advanced configurators. If a client chooses a system that does not have one, then a complex integration project will be required to extend the ERP system with an external configurator.
With Epicor Kinetic, the advanced Product Configurator is integrated into the system. Its use does not require additional work or the creation of unique interfaces. Purchase an additional license, and you can use it. Create product definitions and specify manufacturing technologies. After a few extra steps, you will have everything we described above at your disposal. You will be able to run the Configurator not only when compiling requirements but also on a purchase order, on a production order, and you will be able to introduce changes to the configuration at any stage of the process – quickly, easily, and simply to the greater satisfaction of customers and improved bottom line.