A Request for Quotation (RFQ) is a foundational document for manufacturers to prepare when presenting industrial automation projects to potential automation integrators. The more precisely manufacturers define the project in their RFQ, the more accurately automation integrators can quote the project—and deliver more optimized solutions. Here are nine important criteria every manufacturer should include in their RFQ.

1. Factory Automation Project Overview

Including a project overview is the first and broadest step in writing an RFQ. It’s helpful to give a high-level, overall picture of the company and the purpose of the RFQ.

To articulate the purpose of the RFQ, manufacturers should be sure to specify the scope and end goal of the project and indicate the project’s deadline. They should also state their evaluation criteria and how they will select the systems integrator for their automation project. Lastly, they should include any relevant contact information and instructions integrators need to submit their response.

2. Automation System Requirements

The requirements for a successful automation system may be more than manufacturers realize at the outset. The more detail included about project requirements, the more fully integrators will understand the scope of the project, and the less likely there are to be delays in the project moving forward—delays caused by gaps in knowledge and the time it takes for both parties to assimilate new information.

Manufacturers should begin by describing the application type and the main functions of the automation system. For example, will the system require machining, assembly, sorting, packing, palletizing, testing, and/or picking and placing? It is also helpful to give an idea of the automation types that may be needed for the system, like PLC, SCADA, robots, cobots, conveyors, vision systems, etc.

Then, for each of the system’s functions, manufacturers should describe their desired sequences, processes, and deliverables. For example, suppose a sequence requires inspection before any additional assembly occurs. In that case, manufacturers should explain the part, the moment of the manufacturing process in which the inspection is needed, and what the result(s) of the inspection should be. These descriptions may also include defining orientations and manipulations that may be required (e.g., rotation, translation, alignment, etc.).

Manufacturers should also specify the system’s conveyance and/or assembly requirements, such as speed, weight, and capacity. A part that weighs 75 lbs. has different conveyance considerations than a part that weighs 175 lbs.

Also, if manufacturers have any required or preferred components suppliers for the system, this is a good place to list them in the RFQ.

Finally, manufacturers should indicate the standards, practices, and regulations the system must comply with, such as ISO, ANSI, and OSHA.

3. Annual Volumes and Required Cycle Times

The key to a successful automation project is whether the system achieves operational goals. Manufacturers should estimate the annual volumes and required cycle times for the automation system and specify the required cycle times for each system function. It’s also good for manufacturers to note the anticipated production schedule and any downtime (due to shift changes, maintenance, etc.).

4. Current Process, Drawings, and Sample Parts

What is your current process? Is it manual or already automated? Manufacturers should provide videos and/or photos of the current process that the automation system will improve or replace. They should also detail the parts that will be handled or produced by including drawings and specifications showing the parts’ dimensions, tolerances, materials, and quality requirements. Additionally, any details or specifications that demonstrate the design, functionality, and maintenance of the current tools used are helpful.

5. Operating Environment

Where the automation system will operate affects how it will operate. As part of an industrial automation project RFQ, manufacturers should define the ideal machine cubic footprint, any constraints on available floor space, and ceiling height. They should also describe the environment’s ambient temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors that could impact the automation system.

Other operational environment details include utilities (electricity, water, heating/cooling, internet) at the facility, construction requirements, and possible restrictions.

Likewise, manufacturers should state the safety and training requirements for the automation system and indicate any documentation required for the automation system, like drawings, manuals, reports, or certificates.

6. Project Timeline and Delivery Requirements

Manufacturers should indicate the project timeline, any important milestones (such as inspection/testing dates and procedures), and delivery and installation requirements for the automation system.

7. Budget and Return-on-Investment Expectations

Budget and expected ROI play no small part in determining which proposal manufacturers select for their capex industrial automation projects. Manufacturers should state the project budget and the expected return on investment (ROI) for the automation system within their RFQ. Manufacturers should also explain the assumptions and calculations used to determine ROI.

8. Proposed Terms and Conditions

Manufacturers should propose payment terms and other requirements, such as warranties, for the automation system. They should also include any legal or contractual terms and conditions that apply to the project, like insurance.

9. Next Steps for the Project

To conclude the RFQ, manufacturers should outline the next steps and possible future opportunities for the project moving forward, should the systems integrator be selected. They should describe their deliberation timeline and the process they have in place for evaluating and selecting their systems integrator partner for this project.

At Wes-Tech, we have reviewed thousands of RFQs, and our customers find our “no-stone-unturned” thorough approach essential to delivering comprehensive and relevant concepts for their requested automation solutions. Our in-depth pre-sale exploration helps us be thorough in assessing our prospective customers’ challenges and proposing an optimized solution. If your RFQ process does not involve detailed information-gathering and the essential criteria we’ve listed here, we can help! Reach out and contact us to begin discussions about your project; we’ll leverage our expertise to help you navigate your automation journey.