When the Business Micros team looks back at 2021, the trends we saw in software are very much a reflection of what happened across the rest of the market.

Unsurprisingly, we carried out more than 50 links to machining centres, automatic saws and 4, 6 and 8 head welders last year as fabricators made big investments in new machinery – to keep up with demand, increase accuracy on the shop-floor and, above all, take better control of their supply chain.

Amongst that, the biggest growth in demand came from those companies who are manufacturing between 150 and 200 frames per week. These were mostly customers who previously bought in at least a portion of their output, but who faced such challenges getting hold of stock during the pandemic that they took the decision to invest in their own manufacturing operations.

Typical was Newcastle-based Ramage Trade Windows, which doubled its output from 130 to 270 windows a week during the pandemic, so that it could reduce its reliance on other fabricators.

Once the machines were in place, customers, including Ramage, increasingly turned to Business Micros for help in optimising production efficiency and managing their own volumes, so that they didn’t find themselves with the very same over capacity issues as their previous suppliers had done.

In most cases, our response was to install our EvoNET business management software, complete with production planning and batching modules. With EvoNET already in use at around a third of UK fabricators manufacturing in PVC-U, it’s a popular and well proven option for companies of any size.

Production planning within EvoNET helps fabricators to run accurate Bill of Material (BOM) summaries by supplier based on upcoming production dates. They can view the production breakdown for the week, see the size and complexity of each order and then move jobs to optimise their capacity. The batching module then allows them to sub batch the orders based on customer, colour, product mix and delivery routes to optimise the efficiency of the flow through the machine.

Effectively, it saves many staff hours which would normally be spent on manual batching and lets users forecast much further ahead.

As we move into 2022, we are still consistently installing at least two new and refurbished machine links a month. While the rise of Omicron makes for a decidedly uncertain outlook, there is certainly no sign as yet of demand tailing off for either machine links or production planning and batching modules.

More details on all the EvoNET modules are at: https://www.businessmicros.co.uk/evonet/