Building links between design and manufacturing

Prolance is a platform that makes it easy for international design studios to discover and work with Indian counterparts, place orders with Indian manufacturers and simplify interaction with small and medium enterprises.

The platform makes the design process  simple, accurate and effortless, and simplifies the process of executing interior projects through automation and aggregation, thus eliminating errors, cost escalations and ensuring predictability for everyone in the interior business

Furniture designers routinely create designs in a 2D and 3D format using the latest software and then contact a manufacturer to provide an estimate and go into production. For an estimate to be made, the design first needs to be broken down into a bill of materials (BOM) and a cut list. It does not happen automatically; the manufacturer must convert the design data into something the machine understands to make a quote and then put the design into production.

As the conversion from design to production data is done manually, it is a tedious and iterative process, which often requires hours of conferencing with the designer. Most furniture manufacturers are not equipped to accept an order, simply because they cannot convert a design into production data.

This is the reason several small factories are unable to scale beyond 10-15 projects per month as the designer and manufacturer are not speaking the same language. This is also the reason entrepreneurial designers are unable to easily fructify the vision they had created.

Routinely, there are hours of wasted creativity, days of lost production, perpetuation of underutilised capacity, and a resultant increase in the final cost of the project. Ultimately the customer is the loser because inefficiencies creep into the entire design to production to installation process.

Now, for bringing scale to the modular industry the translation of design to manufacturing has to be automated. Worldwide, scale in manufacturing has been achieved where the modules are fixed in terms of size, colour and hardware. But customisation is important when it comes to the modular industry, as houses come in all sizes and shapes and each customer is different.

Bespoke projects were typically manufactured in smaller manufacturing units since they are geared for customisations. However, they might not be the most efficient. Prolance translates even non-standard sizes into machine-ready files with no restriction on colour, hardware and accessories. This ensures that the manufacturers’ ability to accept orders is no longer constrained, and they can achieve scale and benefit all the stakeholders in the ecosystem.


Start-ups have indeed disrupted the process by bringing the functions of design, production, and installation onto a common platform. These platforms enable customers to select designs from massive digital libraries, visualise their interiors, generate quotes and place orders.

But these are captive platforms. Prolance has gone a step further and designed it to completely democratise the design-to-manufacture journey, by offering a B2B SaaS platform where designers, manufacturers and material providers can discover each other. Anyone in the ecosystem, whether big or small, can take benefit from the automation platform.

Transforming manufacturing

Several features that are together changing the face of furniture production in India and Prolance’s Sketch Up and AutoCAD make it easy. When a designer creates anything using this platform, they can seamlessly convert the drawings into tenders, quotes, bill of material, cut lists and 2D files automatically.

This most basic feature will give small unorganised manufacturers the ability to accept an order, read the design files and convert them into production files that allow them to quote and manufacture without converting files.

Large operators have the technology to integrate the design directly into their manufacturing processes without manual intervention but for the majority of the production units, there is no systematic way to take an order. The software that exist are either too expensive, or enough people are not trained to operate them. Prolance is the operating layer, between the designer and manufacturer. In addition, a cadre of designers trained in Prolance is built up for the markets.

For the post-production stage, Prolance offers a QR code solution that helps in packing, logistics and even installation to address the challenge of segregation of panels at the site. This is a practical problem, as many panels look similar and usually get force-fitted by the workers. Not only does this damage the panel, but also mars the perfection of the entire furniture.

Cloud manufacturing

The other big transformation is cloud manufacturing. Several manufacturers have integrated with Prolance to offer their capacities, which are often underutilised. Designers who use the software can focus on design, customer engagement and growing their business. They can leverage the factories associated with the platform for manufacturing, without spending hours explaining their drawings and converting files.

This flexibility makes it so much easier for both parties to collaborate and achieve cost efficiencies, making it easier for international design studios to work with Indian manufacturers.

Prolance is also developing as a marketplace for materials and components, and leading brands are hosting their libraries here. This is another aspect that is helping designers and manufacturers select the best options and create their quotes.

Industry response

The platform, which is a B2B SaaS based marketplace for the interior industry, was launched in the middle of 2021 and early adoption came from organised manufacturers and large enterprises. Enterprise customers include leading furniture sellers who have 50-100 designers, such as Pepperfry, Spacewood, NoBroker and Square Yard, working for them in-house. More than 1,000 designers, studios and manufacturers from across the country are using our platform and recently two international clients were on boarded.

Customers are primarily small and medium enterprises who go for either the ‘pay-as-you-go’ model or annual license fee subscription. For them Prolance is more than a design and manufacturing platform, it is also their extended procurement office.

Going forward Prolance will have a decision support system for the users. It will go beyond showing options and provide suggestions based on various parameters like trends, user preferences, etc.

Based on feedback, the company will begin serving other categories such as soft furnishings, false ceilings, lighting, loose furniture, and paint. It would be possible for users to design a space, calculate costs and material consumption, determine delivery schedules, and place orders with vendors and manufacturers.

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