Read this blog to get all your answers about the Product Configurator and learn about a new tool too!
If you are an Engineering Manager, I’ll bet that you will be surprised to hear that:
- Yes, you can simplify your complex designs for ease of use when customers place orders directly on your web portal.
- Yes, you can remove guesswork and phone calls to your engineering department from your internal sales team.
- Yes, you can even create a set of rules that allow you to create many different bills of materials and routings without the extra work of data migration!
For manufacturers looking to solve all of these problems and more, Microsoft Dynamics AX boasts a Constraint-based Product Configurator that allows you to predefine your product requirements with a quick and clear set of customizable questions and answers. AX will then build or select the right manufacturing bill of materials and routing for you. In addition, this tool offers a clear menu driven interface of drop down lists, user entered values and hidden or exposed rules and calculations to define product manufacturing requirements.
|But wait there’s more! Watch for an exciting customization added to the already powerful suite of features of the Constraint-Based Product Configurator! See details below.|
Sure this all sounds fantastic, but I know you have more questions about Dynamics AX’s Product Configurator:
Question: Can I set a standard configuration to use automatically on sales orders or quotes to reduce guesswork?
Yes, absolutely. A default configuration can be set by product, so that the Sales Team is automatically given the correct version of a pre-configured product.
Question: Do I have to manage the approval and activation for every new production build?
No way – go do other things. Bills of materials and routes can be automatically approved and activated when created by the configurator.
Question: Can I easily update the configuration if the customer changes their mind… we know that this never happens!
Yes. You can make multiple changes starting with the existing selections each time. Both the old and new versions are saved in the sales order confirmation history.
Question: Can I tell which configuration I used before and select it again on the next sales order?
Yes. Save all kinds of time! New configurations are assigned to a user definable number sequence for future use; along with a text field where additional descriptive information can be added to keep track of notes.
Question: Is there an easy way to verify with my customer and my sales team to ensure that I have the desired product result after all questions have been completed?
Yes. What could be easier! Selected configuration details are available on the Sales Order Confirmation for verification in writing, either by the customer or the sales team.
Question: Am I able to manage the release of new configurations by product?
Yes. AX products can be linked to Constraint-Based Product Configurator models with effectivity dates to ensure clean transitions during engineering changes.
Question: What if I make an error while designing the rules and questions?
Don’t worry. Test and Validate features provide feedback with detailed messaging in the design environment to ensure links to items, constraints and calculations are error free.
Question: Will the Product Configurator handle multi-level builds?
Yes, you got it! The Sub-Component feature allows other configured products to be added to a parent bill of materials for multi-level BOMs. This feature also provides modularity where a sub-component can be changed once, rather than changing many product configurations.
And there is more…
- The Microsoft Dynamics AX Product Configurator’s User Interface (UI) can be modified to group attributes and provide the end user with a more sensible line of questioning.
- Route operations can be assigned to a configured product along with the Bill of Materials.
- All settings at the BOM line level can be set from the Product Configurator. Selections can be carried in as preset values or based on user entries, after rule validation. BOM line validates sizing such as depth, height and width, along with predefined variant settings (colour, flavour, version, etc.) that can also be controlled.
|And now for the EXCITEMENT… Re-Use Existing Product Configurations on Sales Orders and Quotations by BDO
Question: What happens if my Quoting & Estimating team creates a configuration that includes a very long list of selections and values, for example, taking information from a blueprint? Can I use this product configuration again?Answer:
We have a solution! BDO Solutions has enhanced the existing feature of re-using existing product configurations on sales orders and quotations to allow a copy of the configuration from one product to another. This is a massive time saver that simplifies the new product creation process allowing a fully developed configuration to be used as a starting point for a new product.Contact us for more details!
A bit more about the Microsoft Dynamics AX Product Configurator
In design mode, user selections are definable to allow the designer to control the data type (Currency, Date, Time, Decimal, Integer, Text, Boolean, Reference). Within each attribute type, other controls can be put in place, such as the range of numbers (no less than 4 and no more than 12), a direct tie to an AX unit of measure such as sq. ft, as well as allowing end users to type information or choose from predefined drop down lists.
These attributes are the interface between the logic built into the configurator model and the end user of the tool. Simple logic can be applied when the end user is already familiar with the design needs of the product, and provide a faster tool for creating engineering bills of materials. More complex logic with rules (constraints) can be created to allow end users such as front end sales staff or customers to assemble their product through a series of questions.
Constraints provide a means of ensuring design requirements of the end product. For example, if a chain saw with a 35CC engine can handle a 14 inch or 16 inch blade, then Windows Solver Foundation language provides an easy to use Expression Editor to save dealing with code syntax. See image below:
Product configurators are a great time saver and error proofing tool. The Dynamics AX Constraint-Based Product Configurator is easy to use, fully integrated into the product and a standard feature of AX 2012! But, if you want to get even more out of it, consult manufacturing experts like our team at BDO Solutions who have years of experience in improving upon already great Microsoft Dynamics AX tools.
Manager, BDO Solutions
Ryner is an Operations and Supply Chain Management professional with twenty years of experience in manufacturing and distribution industries. In the last ten years, Ryner has spent his career assisting clients in improving operations through enterprise resource planning (ERP) software implementation.