In today’s highly competitive business environment, companies are always looking for ways to streamline their processes and boost productivity.
Aicomp and Esko have formed a partnership to create integrated solutions for packaging manufacturers between Esko´s CAD Suite and Aicomp´s ERP software solutions. The goal is to develop best practices for enhancing the design and quotation processes, both in time and with accuracy of data. This partnership aims to streamline these processes for packaging manufacturers by providing consistently integrated solutions.
Both companies have formed a joint team to create an integration offering for the market. As part of this initiative, they developed a standard CAD integration solution for manufacturers, which currently covers single products and un-assembled sets. Ongoing developments are aimed at expanding the scope to include assembled sets, separation, and more. Several live projects are currently utilizing the new integration approach.
We invited Matthias Waltz and Karl Harvey from Aicomp for a short interview in which they shed light on the basic features and benefits of integration.
In this article, we will explore how companies can leverage CAD integration to improve their design workflows, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. Whether you’re a design professional or a business owner looking to optimize your operations. Within the article, there are some valuable insights shared from the interview as well as practical tips for achieving success through CAD integration.
Optimizing your resources: why one integrated solution is THE smart choice
Aicomp and Esko have come together to provide a powerful solution for CAD integration, offering a range of benefits that can significantly improve the design process.
- “Karl, how does the CAD integration solution simplify the maintenance and alignment of data across the different systems?”
One key advantage of this solution is that it eliminates the need to re-key data, reducing the potential for errors and saving time. This can be particularly valuable in complex design projects where accuracy is critical.
Another advantage is that the solution reduces the number of sets of master data, which can greatly simplify the process of maintaining and aligning data across different systems.
This helps to ensure that data is consistent and up to date throughout the design process, reducing the risk of errors and improving efficiency.
- “Karl, can you explain how processes are improved through integration?”
There are various approaches of how the ERP and CAD collaborate based on the particular inquiry. In cases of standard products, such as those conforming to the FEFCO or ECMA standards, a designer may not be needed during the quotation process, as these standards can be run automatically with results being returned to SAP without the need of any user intervention.
With the harmonization of master data throughout the process as another important benefit of the solution, this allows for more streamlined and efficient workflows. This can help to reduce the time and effort on those more standard products, enabling designers to focus on more complex design tasks.
- “Can the CAD integration solution be customized to meet the specific needs of each client? If so, how?”
The solution offers specific workflows for a combination of inquiry and product types, allowing for greater flexibility and customization in the design process. This can help to ensure that each project requirement is tailored to the specific needs of the client.
All in all, the CAD integration solution provides businesses with greater control and efficiencies over their design processes. The solution adds additional control of processes and business rules, enabling businesses to optimize their design workflows and achieve greater success.
Overview of the integrated solution
- “Karl, how does the CAD integrated solution streamline the design process for businesses in the packaging industry?”
CAD integrated solutions streamline the design process for businesses in the packaging industry by automating the quotation process, reducing manual data entry, improving collaboration, and reducing the risk of errors. This leads to increased productivity and potentially improved profitability.
- “Matthias, can you explain a bit more how the integration works and how to harmonize the data between ERP and CAD?”
We have created a specific structure to control the integration solution.
At the project level, the solution allows the users to manage customer details, material descriptions, and quantities, as well as the project status.
At the OneUp level, you can manage ARD file information, describing the single product design including FEFCO or ECMA types, product size, board ID, scores, and print requirements.
The third level is the MultiUp level, where the solution allows the management of MFG file information for production sheet designs for manufacturing purposes, including sheet sizes, trims, and number up on sheet.
Depending on the specific request, there are different ways in which the integration can be initiated. For standard FEFCO or ECMA products, the design process can be fully automated, reducing the need of a designer’s time for such standard products.
SAP is used to capture the product style, product sizes, board ID and other product related data, while CAD is used to create the product drawing, score and sheet size and optimize layout requirements. This data is then automatically integrated back to SAP. The solution also offers a “Review Request”, meaning for specific inquiries a designer must verify the automated design, before releasing the details back to SAP.
But of course, inquiries for completely new packaging designs can also be handled.
When a quotation is created in SAP, it is a basic data set without any design calculations. However, when an inquiry is received as a design project, a full data set is created in CAD and returned to SAP. This process does not have to start in SAP, it can also be initiated in CAD. When the designer, and / or customer, are satisfied with the design, the data can be transferred to SAP.
- “Matthias, what is the typical process flow for a new inquiry? “
With a new customer inquiry, we can start a new product configuration on SAP side describing the product. We start with the initial status of “Specification in progress”. At that point the user types in the desired product type as well as any detail information available. The user can save this at any point and return to complete the details whilst the status remains as “Specification in progress”. Once the details are entered and complete there are two options. The first one is, „No Design Required” enabling the user to continue with the process without any CAD integration.
However, the more usual and common way of dealing with the process is the integration with CAD. In this case the status “ready for design” is set and upon save the integration is initiated,
Once the deign request is successfully delivered to CAD, the status in SAP is automatically updated to “In Design”.
The data will be sent to Esko via XML. At that point the inquiry is handed over to Esko and no changes in SAP are allowed for the time being. The Automation Engine runs the calculation for the OneUp, might also do the calculation of MultiUps and in some cases this is presented to a designer for review. If there is a review needed, this is created as a task, and is assigned to the inbox of a designer. The designer would then look at it, adjust it and once complete would release the data back to SAP. This then triggers our update of the configuration in the background, and the status within SAP changes from „In design” to „Designed”.
Once all the data is received and updated, we have a sales document with a configuration, that has a designed status, where the sales rep then can look at. After making final adjustments if required, the costing and pricing can take place. At this point the quotation can be provided to the customer.
- “Matthias, what happens then after the customer has accepted the quotation?”
We start with a review process because in the first instance, we let Automation Engine calculate everything automatically, without designer input. With that additional review process, we also have the chance for the additional optimization, and for the Designer to review and approve. VCPowerPack allows offering multiple quantities within one inquiry and the optimization allows as example to adjust the design to the actual selected order quantity.
For this process we change the status to “Ready for technical approval”, which triggers the integration to CAD. A task is created for the technical approval within Esko. The designer then makes the final adjustments and releases the data back to SAP. We receive the updated configuration and set the status “Technical approved“, from where we then can start to create our automatic master data, for the finished good, tooling etc.
In conclusion, the CAD integration is an important tool for designers and businesses seeking to optimize their design processes and increase productivity. Through our expert interview with Matthias and Karl from Aicomp, we have gained valuable insights on the benefits, challenges, and best practices associated with CAD integration. We have learned that CAD integration can help designers and sales to streamline their workflow, reduce errors, and increase efficiency.
Stay up to date
Aicomp has been recognized for its expertise and innovation in the packaging industry. The company hosts events such as the Aicomp Summit, where they invite professionals from all corners of the industry to brainstorm and network together. It’s the ultimate gathering for packaging professionals, where they can share their thoughts on the latest trends, tackle common challenges, and come up with new solutions.
To learn more about CAD integration and other related topics, you can register for on-demand access to all recordings and the latest updates on summit.aicomp.com. This will give you access to a wealth of information and insights from industry experts, as well as the opportunity to stay up to date on the latest developments in the field.