CAD Outsourcing Ramps Up22 Jun, 2021 By: Greg Rankin
VIEWPOINT: Manufacturers look for ways to better meet ever-changing demand while also reducing costs and increasing flexibility, especially during and post-pandemic.
As the post-pandemic economy ramps up, the demand for CAD engineering continues to put undue pressure on a number of industries that rely heavily on design engineers. For some sectors, such as the material handling industry, which never really experienced a slowdown, this boom in demand is pushing a number of operations to look for quick solutions while ensuring their workforce is made up of cutting-edge designers who are easy to train and manage.
For example, Bastian Solutions, a Toyota Advanced Logistics company that specializes in providing complex material handling services throughout the world, has had to look at outsourcing some CAD work to keep up with demand.
“We are slammed,” explains Chris Perry, engineering manager for Bastian Solutions’ conveyor division. “We’ve got an engineering team that’s often working at 110% capacity. So, my challenge has been to figure out what to do when two huge projects get thrown on top of that.”
Bastian, which designs and services warehousing and distribution centers, witnessed sharp increases in demand during the pandemic with more shoppers turning to online purchases which rely on smooth logistics to get all those orders delivered. As the economy rebounds, Bastian is not seeing the workload decrease. In fact, Perry says it’s a case of flow and even more flow.
Industries using warehouses witnessed sharp increase in business during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Image source: Bastian Solutions)
However, that ever-changing demand put company managers, like Perry, in a tough position. Should they hire more in-house CAD engineers — not knowing if they would need them in 4-6 months — or outsource the work to a firm that could potentially reduce costs and increase versatility.
“We just felt that outsourcing the CAD modeling and drafting would give us greater flexibility and take the pressure off our internal team,” says Perry.
A number of manufacturing and engineering operations have been wrestling with this issue recently, and the pressure is only expected to amplify as the post-pandemic economy continues to bounce back.
Conveying the Message
Bastian Solutions is well known throughout the world for, among other things, their conveyor systems which can reach several miles long, handle unique dimensions and carry a wide variety of loads. Every project is tailor-made by a system designer to optimize throughput at each particular facility. The part requirements are then fed to the engineering team which Perry manages.
Bastian Solutions’ conveyor systems. (Image source: Bastian Solutions)
“These conveyor systems are always customized,” he says. “If the part for a configuration that gets ordered is not in our standard library, it has to be drawn up, modeled, and added to the library.”
On top of that, Perry and his team are also working on internal product development design projects. Therefore, the topic of outsourcing or adding a full-time employee was often debated.
“For budgetary planning reasons it just makes more sense to be able to flex our muscles using an external contractor rather than bringing on permanent headcount,” he says.
Last summer when warehousing and distribution centers were preparing for what wound up being a record-breaking holiday rush, Bastian Solutions decided that it made sense to outsource some of its CAD engineering work to ensure its in-house design engineers would not be overworked.
He says it was a struggle to find a firm that could handle their internal process control and quality management systems while still being in or close to the company’s eastern time zone.
“Quality and on-time delivery are the major metrics for me,” explains Perry. “CAD / CAM Services is hitting the mark with high-quality work.”
CAD / CAM Services is a computer-aided design and engineering firm located outside Dallas, Texas, with expertise in 3D scanning, modeling, and conversions. It is one of the few CAD engineering firms in the world certified for high precision conversions by both the aerospace industry and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Using CAD/CAM Services, Bastian Solutions has increased its design output and saved money by hiring contract engineers to handle the day-to-day work while their internal designers handle new projects. (Image source: Bastian Solutions)
“The benefit for me is being able to assign the contract engineer the routine work,” says Perry. “This frees up my internal team to tackle product development and continuous improvement projects.”
Currently, Bastian Solutions is seeing such great potential in its initial outsourcing to CAD / CAM Services, that it is already considering flexing to a few more outsourced CAD technicians to add to the team.
Perry points out that while his team was mainly focused on flexibility, there are a number of reasons why a company could benefit from the outsourcing of some or all of its CAD work. The top reason obviously being cost. A company outsourcing could save on a dedicated salary and benefits package as well as by reducing the need for another seat of high-priced 3D CAD software. There are often additional savings with computer hardware and even office space.
Furthermore, staying on the leading edge of CAD technology can be time-consuming, and it is often more convenient for companies to be able to turn to well-trained specialists at a moment’s notice without going through the process of recruiting and hiring.
Find out more:
About outsourcing opportunities: CAD/CAM Services.
About Bastian Solutions.