How ARRK Stays Competitive With AMFG’s AM Workflow Software
“New companies are springing up all the time, as the overall cost of AM machines and materials continues to fall. With the power of the internet and an increasing preference for buying online, ARRK wanted to address this growing market as well as automate some internal processes to drive operational efficiencies. Workflow software has been essential for that.”
Projects Manager, ARRK Europe
The ARRK Group has been a global provider of manufacturing solutions for more than 60 years. Today, ARRK employs over 3,500 people worldwide.
ARRK offers a broad spectrum of manufacturing services that cover engineering, prototyping, tooling and production. Its European division has sites located across the continent, each specialising in one or more of the company’s core services.
Industries: Automotive, Medical, Aerospace, Defence, Consumer goods, Architecture
ARRK Group services: Engineering, Prototyping, Tooling, Low-volume production
“What sets us apart from many other service providers is that we have a number of production sites in different countries,” explains Rupert Sleightholme, Projects Manager at ARRK Europe.
“This allows us to provide localised services, tailored to the needs of each region. It also means we have specialised teams in those countries that can provide backup support and expertise.”
Additive manufacturing has been a key part of ARRK Europe’s offering for the last 30 years. However, the AM market has changed significantly over this time, resulting in the company reviewing its internal processes.
“With the increasing demand for online, automated 3D printing services, we were keen to ensure we maintained the high levels of service all our customers have come to expect from ARRK, whilst extending our offering through ARRK Online.
“We work with companies of all sizes, from individual designers all the way through to global organisations with large engineering teams. With such a broad spectrum of customers, we need to ensure that we’re always providing an efficient service,” Rupert adds.
Traditionally, customers would consult with one of ARRK’s “on the road” project managers or project co-ordinators in the company’s Gloucester or Teesside offices. Clients would then submit their requests, usually via email, and wait for a reply from one of the projects team.
“ARRK prides itself on providing a quick turnaround on quotations for its customers, however, we wanted to be even faster,” says Rupert.
The team quickly identified that one of the ways it could do this was by developing a new online platform for customers looking to get a quote and place an order for mainstream SLA or SLS parts instantly. What’s more, the new online platform would be available 24/7 — unrestricted by traditional office hours.
Staying competitive with workflow software
“We knew that we could make efficiency gains by using software for order handling and project management,” says Rupert. “ARRK Online gives our customers the flexibility of quickly ordering parts, while we’re able to streamline our back-office operations.”
ARRK chose AMFG’s AM workflow software for two primary reasons: its customisable functionality and ease-of-use.
As Rupert explains, “We wanted to make sure that we could adapt the software to fit our process and the overall ARRK brand. AMFG’s software was extremely adaptable; we liked the fact that we could customise it. We were able to start with a simple format to get the system up and running, and then expand gradually. That has been great — being able to develop our use of the software as we build upon it.”
A small group from ARRK’s project team, alongside AMFG’s technical support team, worked together to implement the AMFG platform. In the first phase, this included integrating AMFG’s instant quotation tool with the bespoke ARRK Online website, as well as implementing key backend project management tools.
“We also liked the simplicity of the platform, its overall user interface and user-friendliness,” says Rupert. “We looked at it from both a customer perspective and from the perspective of our projects team because it was important to be able to easily use the platform from both sides.”
ARRK Online: a streamlined additive manufacturing platform
ARRK Online was successfully launched in September 2018, powered by AMFG’s workflow software. The platform now offers clients a faster way to procure parts, whilst giving the projects team a centralised platform through which to receive and process orders.
While ARRK Online has initially been launched in the UK, ARRK is exploring options to extend it to other European countries and add further manufacturing services.
“ARRK Online is very much about addressing an online clientele as well as improving our internal processes to provide faster response times to customers,” says Rupert. “It’s a way of embracing the digitisation of manufacturing, where customers simply want a quick way to procure parts.
“Our improved efficiency means that we can also provide an enhanced, tailored service to customers who have more complex projects, or where they require additional downstream services. It’s a win, win!”
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