How are procurement organizations and suppliers using model-based definitions? We’re going to look at some findings.

First, let’s talk about the situation. A lot of companies are looking at adopting model-based definitions for various processes. However, many executives are hesitant to proceed. Why? They’re not quite sure if their supply chain is ready, and they don’t want to throw a wrench in current operations. That’s why a research study like this one, which we conducted in the summer of 2018, is so important.

So, what exactly are we talking about here? It’s really just the quotation process. The idea is that you take some of the engineering documentation that you have, wrap it up in a technical data package, and provide that to the supplier. The supplier then generates a quote using what you’ve given them.

2D vs 3D

Now in this study, we asked the following question:

What percentage of quotes are generated using the following customer deliverables?

  • Only 2D drawings, no 3D models
  • Only 3D models, no 2D drawings
  • Some combination of the two

Based on the answers, as you might imagine, we were able to categorize responses accordingly. For example, if they answered 80% for 2D drawings only, 10% for 3D models only, and 10% for a combination, we know they’re drawing reliant. If they answered 80% for combos, 10% for 2D drawings only, and 10% for 3D models only, we know they’re using a combination of models and drawings.

Then we get into some other categories where it’s somewhere in between, such as 40% for a combination and 60% for only 3D models. We’ve documented these according to these kind of definitions.

So where are we at right now? What’s the situation today? The current operating state is what people are doing at this moment in time. 37% said they are reliant on 2D drawings, which means no 3D models at all. They’re generating quotes using those engineering drawings

The Happy Medium

About another third, 36%, are using drawings and models. This is kind of what you would expect. When it comes to tooling, machining, and operations, you want to be able to get a quick idea of how long it will take the organization to actually make those parts. Then you see a scattering of other data, and you can see model-reliant is down there at 7%.

Let’s talk about this for a second. Compared to machining operations and tool design operations, generating quotes has not been as reliant on 3D models. You can say that those other organizations, machining and tooling design, are very 3D reliant today, even across the supply chain. What I think you’re seeing here is they’re starting to make the migration. They are definitely not there yet, so this is something to take into account as you’re thinking about rolling MBDs out to the supply chain.

How capable are these organizations today in terms of what they can do as opposed to what they are currently doing? We asked a number of questions focused on what capabilities you have in place. Can the people in your quoting department open a 3D model? Can they interrogate a model-based definition? Is that part of your process? Do you have specific roles with certain skills?


We asked questions about those capabilities, and then we categorized them as being capable or not. You can see how this breaks down in terms of a manual process looking at an MBD and assessing the cost to generate for a quote, and then from an automated perspective, putting a part through an automatic costing process, and then using that for the quote.

From these findings, there are 34% actually capable of an MBD-based process today, which is far higher than the 9% we saw just a moment ago on the current operating state. Then when you look at the automated process, which is using software to estimate costs, that is pretty low. It’s not something that’s widely acceptable right now.

That’s the overview of the model-based definition supplier readiness study. We do this for machining, for inspection, for instructions, and several different functional departments. This is the view on procurement, and you can get the rest by accessing the slides.