AMS Automates Quote Process

Contract manufacturer cuts quote cycle time up to 66 percent

Tempe, AZ  January 9, 2002  Advanced Material Solutions (AMS) typically provides 10 to 15 quotes each week to its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers. The process used to be part-automated, part-manual, an arrangement that added costs for the contract electronics manufacturer. But a new electronic quoting tool in place since April has helped AMS cut its quoting cycle time in half, giving the company an additional competitive edge in a fast-moving industry.

The process of providing AMS' OEM customers with fast, competitive bill of material (BOM) quotes is complex. Each of the 10 to 15 new quotes that AMS manages each week consists of 100 to 200 line items.

In the past, Milpitas, Calif.-based AMS had implemented a traditional "four-walls" quote application. However, much of the information still had to be entered manually, a time-consuming process that was susceptible to errors. In addition, the software didn't provide the direct links into supply chain partners' systems. The result was a range of time delays, which translated into additional costs for AMS.

In April, AMS replaced its "four-walls" system with a tool from solution provider eConnection called Quote Manager, a Web-native application designed specifically for managing quotes in the electronics industry. The solution offers connections through eConnections' network of authorized trading partners to a community of more than 1,500 suppliers, distributors and manufacturers' representatives.

The Quote Manager service, deployed over three days, allowed AMS to automate the quote process, as well as to get up and running quickly via existing links to AMS' suppliers. "Quote Manager has removed the manual costs we used to face by automating the quote process and allowing us to reach all of our suppliers one-on-one through a single platform," said Tom Smith, vice president of sales at AMS.

Since implementing the solution, AMS has been able to prepare quotes up to three times faster, and it has cut the entire quote process in half, allowing the contract manufacturer to respond faster to its OEM customers.

For example, AMS used Quote Manager to provide a firm-fixed price to one of the large OEMs that support the U.S. Government's demands for special electronics. The request for quote (RFQ) included 12 BOMs that totaled about 1,200 common line items. By using the new solution, AMS was able to compile the information needed for the firm quote within five business days instead of the 15 business days previously required. This included the cost for printed circuit boards, labor and many hard to find single-source components.

Pasadena, Calif.-based eConnections says that the solution also provides for decisions based on more accurate information, since quote information is easier to navigate through the tool and can be automatically downloaded, thereby eliminating manual errors.

Because Quote Manager delivers quotes in the data formats preferred by AMS and its suppliers, all of these supply chain partners can eliminate inaccuracies and unnecessary delays. Weighted reporting with Quote Manager also makes it fast and easy for AMS to sort through quotes to determine the best offers for its customers.

"Quote Manager enables us to compete more effectively by providing our customers with better project quotes - faster," concluded Smith.

eConnections offers a suite of applications to support Web-based interaction with supply chain partners for companies in the electronics industry. In addition to the Quote Manager, also known as Quotility, the suite includes an application to forecast and manage demand, a supply planning component and software to support inventory management, including vendor-managed inventory (VMI), auto-replenishment and demand pull. Monthly subscription fees for the suite's components range up to $60,000 per module, based on the solutions chosen, complexity and number of users.