In a typical year, the Business Micros team averages one machine link installation every three weeks.

Over the last extraordinary year though, that increased to one every other week as fabricators invested record amounts in machinery to try to increase their output, while constrained by social distancing in their factories.

We’re still quoting at much higher volumes on machine links than ever before and, with no sign of any tailing off in demand, I think that will continue for the foreseeable future.

For most fabricators, investing in a CNC machine is obviously all about automating as much of the cutting and prepping process as possible to increase volumes, and maximise efficiencies and output per person. It’s also though about achieving greater accuracy, reliability and consistency and eliminating errors which ultimately compromise margins.

There’s no reason though why automation needs to stop at cutting and prepping. Using Business Micros EvoNET software to automate more of the processes within the factory can arguably make an even bigger impact on accuracy and margins than the CNC machine itself.

For instance, EvoNET can be used to automate batching – freeing up the admin time used on the task, improving the flow around the factory and making the machine itself work more efficiently. Users can set their own filters and batching rules according to how orders are placed with them so that when they come to release a day’s work, it has already been filtered by colour, product, route and even complexity.

Adding EvoNET barcode scanning alongside allows for an even smoother journey round the factory and lets users know exactly where every frame is at every given moment.

Custom scan points can even be added which push some frames ahead of others based on their priority status. And, once a frame is completed, EvoNET can even be used to trigger automated alerts for customers to advise that orders are ready for collection or set to be delivered on time.

Despatch and delivery can be automated using EvoNET in exactly the same way. The software can be set up to pre-allocate customer orders onto specific delivery routes and despatch scan points used to ensure vans are loaded in the drop order set by the transport team.

When the frames arrive at the customer, the process completes with a digital signature on the delivery device. This is automatically sent back to EvoNET and a delivery note is sent direct to the customer’s inbox.

Users can add automated invoices and a whole raft of other custom paperwork options to the collection and delivery notes and free up admin and processing time to reduce costs while also improving service and customer satisfaction levels.

Effectively, EvoNET can eliminate the vast majority of paperwork, which takes out the opportunities for manual errors either at the fabricator or at their customer and frees up time for both parties to focus on other areas of their business.

As well as all the aspects of automation, EvoNET is also, of course, an effective business management and reporting system.

It allows customers to view a real time dashboard showing everything from work in progress to quality errors and generate reports on turnover, margins, bills of materials and even fitting schedules. The data it produces helps customers to analyse areas for improvement within the business, and to support better forecasting and optimised stockholding.

It’s almost infinitely customisable so customers can invest in standard or bespoke modules to make it fit their business and to focus on the areas where they can generate the biggest payback in terms of both accuracy and efficiency.