What Is Engineer-to-Order?

Engineer-to-order (ETO) is a manufacturing process that involves customizing product variations for individual customers. It is commonly used in industries such as chemical, medical, and industrial machinery, where products require specialized engineering or customization services before they can be delivered to the customer.

The engineer-to-order approach enables manufacturers to differentiate their products from competitors since customers can choose unique designs that meet their requirements. Additionally, since all items are customized according to customer specifications, lead times for delivery tend to be longer than those associated with mass production methods.


  • ETO

ETO Manufacturing Process

The engineer-to-order process requires both the customer and engineering team to collaborate in designing, manufacturing, and delivering a product tailored to the customer’s specific requirements. The process includes several steps:

Product Configuration

The first step is customer, sales, and engineering teams working together to review the customer’s needs and determine the type of product or service they seek. At this stage, specialized CPQ (Configure Price Quote) software enables the customer and sales rep to work together to create a valid product configuration and an accurate price quote. CPQ for manufacturing has visual configuration capabilities that generate 2D or 3D images of the product to enhance the buying experience and ensure the company manufactures a product to the customer’s exact specifications.

The engineers then develop a comprehensive design proposal based on these requirements. This typically includes detailed specifications such as size, shape, materials used, and any other special features requested by the customer. Once both parties approve the design proposal, work can begin on producing the product or service.

Component Sourcing

Next, components needed for production must be sourced from suppliers who meet specific criteria, such as quality and cost control standards. Depending on the project’s complexity, this could involve sourcing from multiple vendors or suppliers of different components. Once all required materials have been sourced, they are ready for assembly into a single unit according to the design specifications provided.


In this phase of the ETO process, all components are gathered, and the final product is manufactured according to its blueprints and design specifications. This could involve manual assembly or automated manufacturing processes depending on what is required for production efficiency, cost savings, and quality standards.

Quality Assurance

Next comes testing and quality assurance processes to make sure that every component works together as intended and meets any quality standards set forth in the design specification. If there are any issues during this stage, they must be addressed before moving on to further assembly or delivery of the final product or service.


Finally, after completing all testing and quality assurance checks, the finished product is delivered according to agreed-upon timelines and standards outlined in both parties’ contracts

Due to its customization, ETO processes are often more costly than mass production techniques, but they offer customers greater flexibility regarding product design and functionality.

Engineer-to-Order Benefits

Engineer-to-Order (ETO) is a business model emphasizing customization and personalized solutions to meet customer needs. This business model has many advantages over traditional manufacturing methods, such as increased flexibility, improved customer service, and an enhanced ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions.


One of the most significant benefits of an ETO business model is the ability to customize products or services for individual customers. By being able to tailor a product or service specifically for a single customer, businesses can create solutions that meet their exact requirements, leading to greater satisfaction and loyalty. Additionally, customization allows businesses to develop unique products and services, giving them a competitive edge in their industry.


Another benefit of the ETO business model is its flexibility regarding production cycles. Companies can create bespoke solutions on demand, often with short lead times compared to large-scale production runs of standardized products. This flexible approach also allows companies to respond quickly to last-minute changes or customer requests to provide optimal solutions quickly and efficiently.

Potential Cost Savings

ETO also presents opportunities for cost savings due to its scalability; companies can quickly scale up or down production cycles according to their needs without having any fixed costs associated with purchasing large quantities of stock upfront. The custom nature of this business model also eliminates the need for research and development expenses often associated with new product design. Since each item is unique, no additional R&D costs are necessary beyond the initial design phase. Finally, ETO could reduce shipping costs because orders can be shipped directly from suppliers to customers instead of routing through a central warehouse first, saving logistics expenses.

Customer Support

Another advantage of ETO is improved customer service because it allows businesses to focus on individual customers rather than mass-producing products for a large market segment. With personalized solutions, businesses can provide better support because they understand each customer’s specific needs and preferences more intimately. 

Disadvantages of ETO Manufacturing

While ETO manufacturing can be advantageous in certain situations, it has several drawbacks.

Increases Costs

One of the disadvantages of engineer-to-order manufacturing is increased cost. Since each product is customized for a specific customer, there are often additional costs associated with materials and design that would not be necessary if the same product were mass-produced. Additionally, since the customer’s specifications must be met precisely, testing may be more time-consuming and expensive than generic products.

Requires Specialized Skills

Another disadvantage of engineer-to-order manufacturing is that it requires specialized skills and expertise that can be difficult to find in the marketplace. Companies may need to hire outside consultants or engineers who can create custom designs that meet customer requirements. This also leads to increased costs due to the extra labor needed.

Longer Production Time

Another disadvantage of ETO is that it can take significantly longer to complete than traditional mass production methods due to its customized nature. Project timelines often require extra research and development time which can add time and cost to each order. Furthermore, since each order requires additional setup and engineering services, the cost per unit can become very expensive, making it difficult for companies to remain competitive.

Engineer-to-Order Manufacturing Software

Engineer-to-order (ETO) manufacturing software enables organizations to manage the production of custom-engineered products. It offers many features to help businesses streamline their engineering processes, from creating detailed designs and specifications to tracking orders and managing inventory.

The software helps companies by providing tools for product design, configuration, simulation, resource planning, cost analysis, and lifecycle management. This ensures that all customer orders are met with accuracy and efficiency. It also allows companies to stay competitive in the rapidly changing global marketplace by allowing them to quickly develop new products or customize existing ones.

In addition to aiding in product development, ETO manufacturing software provides a range of other benefits, including increased flexibility in the production process and improved visibility into the progress of projects. By using ETO software, manufacturers can reduce production timeframes errors and avoid costly delays due to inaccurate data or poor coordination between suppliers and customers. The software also provides real-time analytics on production performance so that manufacturers can make informed decisions about their processes.

Finally, ETO manufacturing software is designed with scalability in mind; this means it can be used for small-scale operations and large-scale applications. It is an ideal solution for any organization looking for a comprehensive strategy for managing its custom engineering projects.

ETO manufacturing software can be used across various industries, including aerospace, electrical equipment, automotive, medical device manufacturing, and industrial machinery manufacturing. Companies using this type of technology can increase production rates while decreasing associated costs. In addition, they can provide customers with highly personalized products tailored specifically to their needs and requirements in shorter time frames than they could without the software.

ETO software integrates with other business operations solutions, including CPQ, ERP, and Billing, giving companies a streamlined quote-to-cash workflow.

CPQ Integration

CPQ (configure-price-quote) integration with engineer-to-order manufacturing software is revolutionizing how businesses create custom products and services for their customers. CPQ enables businesses to quickly and accurately create quotes for custom products and services by streamlining the configuration, pricing, and quoting process. With CPQ, data accuracy is improved as automated processes allow only valid product configurations. This helps reduce waste caused by incorrect product configurations and orders. In addition, CPQ integration with ETO makes it easier for manufacturers to track customer preferences to serve them better in future interactions.

ERP Integration

By integrating engineering-to-order (ETO) software with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, companies can streamline their product flow, respond to customer demand more quickly, and increase efficiency. ERP integration ensures that all data related to the engineering-to-order process is kept up-to-date and available for quick access.

Since ERP software provides real-time updates on the availability of raw materials and components, it helps minimize production delays. It helps improve customer relations by providing end customers with better reports on expected delivery times and up-to-date notifications on order status. Companies can also use ERP software to track packages from the factory floor to the customer.

Billing Integration

Integrating billing software with engineer-to-order manufacturing software can help organizations save time and money. By automating the billing process, companies do not have to manually enter data into separate systems or spend additional time double-checking information. In addition, integrating these two systems allows manufacturers to more quickly and accurately track customer orders, manage inventory levels, determine pricing structures, generate invoices, and bill customers on time.

People Also Ask

What is the difference between engineer-to-order and configure-to-order?

Engineer-to-order (ETO) and configure-to-order (CTO) are two types of production processes that businesses use to create custom products. In an ETO process, the product is engineered from scratch for a specific customer order. In CTO, a base model is configured according to customer specifications.

An ETO process typically takes much longer than CTO since it involves designing custom components or systems from the ground up, including engineering solutions tailored to meet the customer’s needs. It also requires more specialized expertise than CTO, where components are selected from existing stock to create a customized solution. 

The cost of an ETO process may be higher due to the need for more hands-on involvement, but this cost is often justified by the fact that customers have exactly what they want in terms of delivery time and custom features. In contrast, CTO can offer products faster and at lower costs since it utilizes off-the-shelf components.

What is the difference between engineer-to-order and make-to-order?

Engineer-to-order (ETO) and make-to-order (MTO) are two approaches to producing goods that involve customizing products according to customer requirements. The main difference between engineer-to-order and make-to-order is in the level of customization. While ETO involves designing, engineering, and building a product from scratch for each customer order, MTO involves taking a standard product and modifying it according to customer requirements.

In an engineer-to-order model, there is typically a great deal of complexity involved in creating custom products that meet each individual customer’s unique needs. This could include anything from designing new components or parts to developing specialized software or hardware solutions tailored to the specific application. As such, a substantial amount of time and effort is required up front to accurately design and build each product. This approach also requires significant technical expertise on the engineering team’s part and coordination with other departments like manufacturing, supply chain, and quality assurance.

On the other hand, make-to-order focuses on modifying existing products or assemblies already designed and built. This might include changing colors, sizes, materials, production configurations, or any other changes that can be made without requiring a complete redesign or rebuild from scratch. This approach requires less lead time because much of the work was already done upfront when the original product was created.

What is an example of engineer to order?

The ETO system is used for complex products where mass production isn’t possible and customization is needed – for example, in fields such as aerospace manufacturing, defense, automotive, medical equipment, and machine tools. Each product must be modified or engineered differently according to the customer’s specifications.