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Digital Planning and Configuration Management: 5 Benefits of Configurators

In today’s age of Industry 4.0 and progressive digitization, gone are the days of producing standardized products. Customers now demand solutions tailored to their specific needs, and companies who offer personalized products satisfy not only their customers but also gain a competitive edge. To provide customized product design, organizations are turning to configurators. These tools enable digital mapping of product knowledge and business models, thereby streamlining the digital planning and configuration management processes.

Yet, the benefits of configurators go beyond a streamlined process. Here are five advantages of using configurators to support digital planning and configuration management.

1. Satisfy customers with tailored options

Through a configurator, product combinations and options are mapped digitally and presented to customers, who can then choose a combination or create their own from available options to suit their needs. They can even include notes, drawings, and other items to clarify what they want and further customize their orders.

Offering useful customer guidance in the configurator reduces the need for time-consuming consultations and follow-ups, as well as developing processes for different product offers and orders. This leads to increased customer satisfaction and decreased operating expenses.

2. Improve reliability with reduced errors

Complex products typically come with equally complex configurations and pricing details. If these pricing details don’t accurately capture this complexity, this oversight might translate into an expensive mistake.

For instance, an employee might forget to include additional costs in a price quote for a sliding door to be installed in a remote location or under challenging conditions. Renegotiating with the customer could result in a fraught relationship and a lasting negative impact on the project, while also blemishing the reputation of the company.

A configurator helps to eliminate errors like these with predefined rules for valid configurations and precise pricing. This ensures reliability during planning and configuration management and reduces the potential for human errors, thereby saving on the costs of any potential rework.

3. Automate behind-the-scenes processes

Without using digital tools, creating production orders becomes specialized and tedious. For instance, when an order arrives as a standardized sketch, a measurement sheet, or an order form, it requires transcription into a production order by someone with the technical knowledge.

A configurator optimizes this process: the order is entered into the digital planning tool, which then converts it into a production order. This simple procedure ensures an automated process that runs without any disruptions to the system.

4. Digitally map product knowledge

Configurators are beneficial for the digital mapping of product knowledge. Instead of consulting technical documents in paper form, employees refer to a digital product configurator containing essential data on descriptions, dimensions, dependencies, and more.

Digitally mapping product knowledge might require a considerable effort at first, with the knowledge engineer collaborating with product experts such as application engineers, designers, and product managers to build the knowledge model. But once this model is ready, experts can easily access and modify it, allowing improved scalability.

5. Enhance efficiency

As a digital tool, configurators enhance efficiency in many ways. Support staff can focus on solving more complicated customer issues rather than answering small, simple inquiries. Marketing and sales teams can divert their efforts into bringing in new customers and maintaining relationships with existing ones rather than processing orders. Engineering and product teams can spend more time innovating instead of creating estimates.

While configurators are essential tools for efficiency and optimization, not all configurators are created equal. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so choose a configurator that not only fulfills your immediate planning and configuration management needs but one that’s modular and offers advanced options for future functionalities.

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