The COVID-19 pandemic has caused supply chains around the world to be disrupted, with many businesses struggling to locate key parts to keep their operations running. Reverse engineering at a local level could be a solution to these parts shortages but the processes involved in reverse engineering a job aren’t always as straightforward or linear as those of traditional engineering or manufacturing. In this blog we look at how using ERP for reverse engineering offers companies more flexible ways of managing jobs, whilst avoiding the duplication, costing and scheduling issues that often arise.

 

What is reverse engineering? 

 
Reverse engineering is the process in which a pre-existing component or part is reproduced after a detailed examination of its composition. Machines that repeat the same activity day in, day out, over long periods of time have components that will inevitably wear out or break. Older machines or parts that are no longer supplied by the OEM are also typical examples of something that needs reverse engineering. Reverse engineering may also play a part in servicing or repairing items, or even in failure analysis.

Often items would be shipped overseas as a cheap and quick replacement option. But in the current situation, and going forward, it can be more cost effective and faster to look at having these items locally manufactured or repaired and this is where opportunities lie for local manufacturing and engineering businesses.

As the technology and equipment required to compete in this area becomes more advanced and affordable, we are seeing more companies moving into this field. In fact, just prior to the pandemic, the E-Max Stockton team had planned to host a reverse engineering workshop in conjunction with Mintronics, the 3D technology experts. (NB. Plans are afoot for an online version of the workshop so do watch this space!)

 

Why would I need an ERP system for reverse engineering?

 
The simple answer is an ERP system will make all your jobs, from original enquiry to final delivery, significantly more easy to manage. We’ve spoken to several companies who offer a reverse engineering service and didn’t believe an ERP system would be able to manage their different processes. They were impressed to discover that E-Max ERP offers reverse engineering providers an excellent option for planning, processing and managing their jobs, as well as giving these companies a real competitive advantage, with cost and time savings. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons for this as we walk through a typical case.

You are approached by a client about replacing (or repairing – this example is also applicable for repairs) a part on an older machine. The original manufacturer is no longer producing these parts and the customer has no intention of replacing the machine. At this stage, they want a quote.

You agree to provide a quote and start the reverse engineering process. Once you’ve analysed the part (which is no small task!), you calculate what material is required (your bill of materials) and what actions need to be done (your route) to create the new part or repair the existing.

Using an ERP system like E-Max ERP to do this makes the entire process much easier. Some ERP systems struggle to start a job if there’s no sales order. With E-Max ERP, even if the job is still only at opportunity stage, you can follow process by building the BOM, calculating the route and booking the time it has taken to do the reverse engineering process and calculations against the job. Any associated costs, like materials used, can also be attached to the job and included in the final quote or invoice.

Once your client accepts your quote, it’s a simple one-click to raise the sales order and add the job onto your production schedule. No messing around with spreadsheets or going back to the start and re-entering everything onto your production system.

Even if your client chooses not to progress with the job, you’ve still got all the information on your system and, if payment is due for exploratory costs, including time spent, it’s easy to raise an invoice for these.

 

Are there any other benefits to having an ERP system for reverse engineering work?

 
Yes. Not all ERP systems are created equally but some of the benefits that E-Max ERP offers in reverse engineering include being able to:

• Manage repair works
Being able to create different Delivery Methods (paired BOM and routes) in our system will allow you to process repair works without having a sales order. This allows companies to keep track of serial number parts that turn up at the back door needing repairs.

• Manage repair & part replacement history
A serialised part can be brought in and worked on multiple times. E-Max ERP records the history of every repair and any parts that have been replaced. This allows companies to monitor part life span and life expectancy.

• Create standard processes
Companies can create exploratory processes for situations, ie what to do if we are given something to repair or recreate. Each of these can have set operations for which they can plan work and book a time for cost collections, such as disassembly or inspection. Companies can then create a quote from the works order which will include the costs of time already spent. These templates can be applied time and time again.

• Allocate time to jobs
Even if a job has not been awarded, planners can allocate time to these jobs, in addition to details of any repair work needed to get more accurate costs.

• Keep a full history of activities
With E-Max ERP, all parts and everything associated with each of these, ie documents, required certificates, etc, are stored for historical and future review. It’s easy to keep track of every part you have looked at.

• Manage upfront tasks
Many systems won’t allow you to manage the upfront work which comes with reverse engineering jobs in the actual system. With E-Max ERP, every task can be planned, allocated and recorded. This resolves problems like underestimating workloads and capacity and allows you to have a good handle on the status of all your activities.
 

E-Max ERP successfully support multiple operations and processes, whether you engineer to order, engineer to stock, batch manufacture or reverse engineer parts or repairs. The best way to find out how E-Max ERP can meet your requirements is to speak with our team of experienced consultants. Call us now or drop us a message and we’ll be delighted to show you how you can make E-Max work for you in so many different ways. We can also arrange to take you through a brief demonstration of a reverse engineering job going through E-Max ERP so you can see our software’s capabilities in practice.