Methodology to create cost estimation models for engineer-to-order operations

Mauricio Torres, Florida International University


This research addresses the problem of cost estimation for product development in engineer-to-order (ETO) operations. An ETO operation starts the product development process with a product specification and ends with delivery of a rather complicated, highly customized product. ETO operations are practiced in various industries such as engineering tooling, factory plants, industrial boilers, pressure vessels, shipbuilding, bridges and buildings. ETO views each product as a delivery item in an industrial project and needs to make an accurate estimation of its development cost at the bidding and/or planning stage before any design or manufacturing activity starts. Many ETO practitioners rely on an ad hoc approach to cost estimation, with use of past projects as reference, adapting them to the new requirements. This process is often carried out on a case-by-case basis and in a non-procedural fashion, thus limiting its applicability to other industry domains and transferability to other estimators. In addition to being time consuming, this approach usually does not lead to an accurate cost estimate, which varies from 30% to 50%. This research proposes a generic cost modeling methodology for application in ETO operations across various industry domains. Using the proposed methodology, a cost estimator will be able to develop a cost estimation model for use in a chosen ETO industry in a more expeditious, systematic and accurate manner. The development of the proposed methodology was carried out by following the meta-methodology as outlined by Thomann. Deploying the methodology, cost estimation models were created in two industry domains (building construction and the steel milling equipment manufacturing). The models are then applied to real cases; the cost estimates are significantly more accurate than the actual estimates, with mean absolute error rate of 17.3%. This research fills an important need of quick and accurate cost estimation across various ETO industries. It differs from existing approaches to the problem in that a methodology is developed for use to quickly customize a cost estimation model for a chosen application domain. In addition to more accurate estimation, the major contributions are in its transferability to other users and applicability to different ETO operations.

Subject Area

Industrial engineering

Recommended Citation

Torres, Mauricio, "Methodology to create cost estimation models for engineer-to-order operations" (2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3471601.