Storing your valuable data in different places and formats hardly makes life easier for busy manufacturers of fabricated metal products. Excel is frequently used to fill in the gaps between these disparate, disconnected software and systems. But that’s obviously far from ideal and comes with its own set of challenges for calculators.
Life is complex enough
After all, you operate in a complex business to say the least. On top of purchasing a wide variety of units, you also need to identify the type – bar, coil or sheet. Define the dimensions of stock units. And calculate piece requirements.
Challenge #1: Calculations and quotations
Unlike the mostly discrete assembly industry, materials in the metal products industry are purchased in set sizes. Yet when it comes to job requirements, engineers don’t work in neat multiples of those dimensions. That would be too easy wouldn’t it?
See the 5 costing challenges in our free QuickGuide
Variety is the spice of life. Hmmm…
No, to keep life interesting you use fractions of them instead. Parts of parts. So when it comes to generating a quotation, insight into usage, costs and prices is absolutely critical. But how does Excel measure up?
Excel: the pros
Well, assuming you have a standard Office package, Excel won’t cost your business a penny. Standard functions are easy to use and basic tasks are equally simple to perform, especially with free quotation templates readily available. And you can use different colors, bold fonts and italics to differentiate between different materials and their costs.
Excel: the cons
Well, the main problem is that every element from coils to costs has to be entered manually – and that can open up a world of pain. Prices aren’t updated automatically, so you have to take care of that too. Get a cost wrong and your quote could end up too high so you lose work. Or too low and you lose money. Not to mention the fact you can lose out on a deal because it takes so long to put a quote together.
Our QuickGuide has the answer
As a small manufacturer, the more insight into the realtime prices of materials you have the better. Is Excel up to the job? Download our free QuickGuide to see the 5 main costing challenges and how you can overcome them.