Above: Fabricators benefit from robust quoting of nested parts and assemblies that include secondary operations and delivery, while still enabling tiered pricing, markups or discounts, and local tax rates

May, 2024- In late 2023, software developer SigmaNEST unveiled version 24 of its modular Connected Shop platform. The developer listens to customers and incorporates suggestions in order to upgrade the software tools it designs especially for the metals industry. Wayne Cathers, product owner for business systems at Cincinnati-based SigmaNEST, reports that the first of the quarterly updates for this year was released in March.

Since 2021, service centers and fabricators have been able to apply the SigmaNEST platform to cut-to-length operations. “Version 2024 adds tube cutting along with bar, angle and I-beam cutting to the platform— all wrapped into enhanced scheduling, manufacturing ERP, and shop floor feedback capabilities,” Cathers says. “With the cost of tube laser cutting becoming more economical, we are seeing more and more sheet metal shops adding tube cutting capabilities.”

In addition to tube cutting, the v24 release added dashboard capabilities so users can customize the dashboard to run KPIs and reports specific to their business needs. “Now customers can take all the data generated via our software and use the information to make key business decisions,” Cathers explains.


V24 of the Connected Shop platform was intended to give fabricators with a laborious workflow process a more streamlined approach. “With Connected Shop modules, customers that have separate platforms for inventory management, order taking, scheduling and more can now seamlessly integrate all these functions. In the past, customers would have to use an integration software tool—and pay for it—or expect their team to manually re-enter key data into different systems,” says Cathers. The SigmaNEST Connected Shop brings these functions under one software “roof.”

V24 is the solution for a connected shop with manufacturing ERP functions that include order taking, material purchasing, scheduling, CRM and other functions. The software also incorporates CAD, CAM and nesting capabilities. The benefits to customers are reduced software complexity and increased speed. “With the v24 release, customers can remove the middleman or integration software tools. The updates also mean customers won’t require as much time from their IT engineers. Customers can reduce their overhead and use this funding for other things,” Cathers says.

SigmaTUBE is fully integrated within SOLIDWORKS and SigmaNEST business systems so that jobs can be managed seamlessly throughout the design and production cycle.

According to SigmaNEST’s own research, the Connected Shop platform has increased some processing speeds by as much as 75 percent. “Our development team did a deep dive, searching for and identifying inefficiencies in the software that we repaired. The result is significantly increased speed in some portions of our web applications and in other areas like quoting and order entry,” explains Cathers.


SigmaNEST developers communicate directly with software users and monitor SigmaNEST user discussion groups where customers post suggestions for features and other ideas. These discussions help inform product updates.

“All our product roadmaps are driven by the need to help customers. The Connected Shop modules bring everything under one roof with a manufacturing ERP system designed for how they work,” Cathers notes.

Shop Manager gives greater visibility with dashboards for estimators, programmers and production managers.

A key point of distinction for SigmaNEST is its expertise with metals clients. “Our software is designed specifically to help the metals industry. We specialize in manufacturing and fabrication. We also support steel service centers,” says Cathers. He points to generic ERP systems that may not work as well for manufacturing, scheduling or nesting. “Even ERP systems designed for manufacturing and assembly are not good at nesting. Low-to-mid volume/high mix job shops are where SigmaNEST excels,” he notes.


The latest version includes three new modules to streamline operations: Shop Clock, Quality Manager and Data Hub. Shop Clock tracks employee time and attendance. Customers can use Shop Clock to schedule employee shifts, track breaks and clock in/out. This data can be exported into the customer’s accounting package. “Shop Clock separates the employees’ payroll hours from their time on a piece of equipment or performing a particular task. Now owners can see the differential between payroll hours and project hours,” says Cathers.

The Quality Manager module was created to record and manage nonconformance reports and corrective action plans to help customers maintain ISO 9001 compliance. The module includes a complaint section to track customer or vendor concerns. Customer returns can also be recorded in Quality Manager. “All this data can be visualized in the dashboard, so customers can see how their conformance is affecting their financials and the bottom line,” Cathers explains.

Data Hub allows employees to access job-related information from anywhere on the shop floor. This access is limited to “view only,” while financial-related information is restricted to authorized users.

The SigmaNEST user interface was also enhanced. In SigmaMRP, a more user-friendly top ribbon was created that increases visibility and ease of use for the most commonly selected buttons, while removing buttons that were no longer necessary. Users now have the option to hide buttons they don’t need visible. “This upgrade was in direct response to customer suggestions,” notes Cathers. “So, whether you are a manufacturer, fabricator or service center, we have the solutions to fit all your data needs and manufacturing processes on a single platform” he says.

SigmaNEST, 513/674-0005, http://sigmanest.com/


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