Commercial and institutional furniture manufacturers (often known as contract furniture manufacturers) can offer a staggering array of fabrics, materials, colors, shapes, sizes, and configurations to their dealers and customers. Jobs can range in size from single pieces of furniture to an entire office complex full of furniture, cubical walls, and floor coverings.
For large-scale installations, designers demand an almost unlimited selection of fabrics and finishes. Modular and “systems” furniture can consist of hundreds of different components that can be combined in almost limitless permutations to suit the space being furnished.
- To-order manufacturing. Contract manufacturers must build to customer/dealer specifications, which vary on a project-by-project basis. “Building to stock” is rarely an option.
- The dealer channel. Except for the very largest jobs, contract furniture manufacturers rely on dealers for sales and installation. At the same time, they must support their dealers by providing value-added design services and design validation. Furthermore, they must be able to quickly provide quotes to their dealers, who themselves may be in a competitive situation.
- Design/layout tool integration. For complex “systems furniture” jobs, design/layout tools are mandatory.
- Mixed-mode manufacturing. While almost all finished goods are made strictly to-order, there may be a substantial number of sub-assemblies and components that can and are manufactured to inventory for economic or scheduling reasons.
The related textile industry drives the styles, colors, and textures that will be available for home furnishings as well as contract furniture and floor coverings. In this industry, it is essential to have tools that ensure the designer’s vision is translated to the material effectively—from fashion fabrics to upholstery to rugs and carpeting.
Contract furniture manufacturers are well-served by Frontier by Friedman configured ERP software. Frontier offers comprehensive to-order and mixed-mode manufacturing support, design/layout tool integration, and fully integrated dealer order entry. The powerful parametric configurator in Frontier is ideal for manufacturers who offer complete dimensional flexibility to the marketplace, and the ability to easily maintain thousands of fabric and color choices across product lines speeds the product data management process.