Author: Chris Mitchell, CMO of MFG.com Global Manufacturing Marketplace
“Those were the days…the days when things were built to last.” Many of us have heard this saying or something like it from the “baby boomers” working in the pump industry. Unfortunately, the “baby boomers” are retiring in droves and taking their experiential knowledge with them. While some pump professionals might retire after 20 or 30 years of service, many of the industrial pumps they worked on are still in operation.
When those old pumps break down and require service, obtaining parts can be difficult. In the 1980s and 90s, there were several notable mergers and acquisitions within the pump industry. With many of the original pump manufacturers being consolidated into larger organizations, the road has been paved for third-party manufacturers to fill the industry’s need for replacement pump parts – especially in the case of older, obsolete pumps.
Typically, pump owners will work to obtain pump parts directly from the OEM (original equipment manufacturer). It makes sense – if a pump needs a new impeller, get it from the original equipment manufacturer. This approach gives confidence to the pump owner – knowing that the manufacturer designed “that” impeller for “that” pump. However, the pump parts for these older, obsolete pumps can be a challenge to source, as many times the drawings are no longer available to manufacture the part. Add to that the fact that in many cases the system specs have changed since the pump was originally installed. It’s possible the pump owner may require a modern hydraulic design to meet current performance and energy savings requirements (per the new Department of Energy ruling, for example).
For these reasons, pump owners have had to consider sourcing manufacturers outside of the OEMs – which is no easy task. Sourcing professionals and pump system design engineers often have hard-to-answer questions: When they need to find a manufacturing supplier to make one or more parts, can that manufacturer provide a like-for-like part? Is it more cost-effective to source domestically or abroad? If they find potential suppliers, how do they know which ones are good and which ones might cause more headaches?
For decades, people relied on the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers. First published in 1898, this directory, referred to as the “big green book,” listed 650,000 distributors, manufacturers, and service companies. Even though people could refer to this list, the directory did not provide much info about the quality of the suppliers. Jump ahead to the year 2000 – the start of a decade where people began to visit online directories to source manufacturers. Seeing the need for a better way to qualify and select suppliers, MFG.com set out to launch a new sourcing site unlike any other.
One of the key differentiators of MFG.com is that they have a substantial amount of qualitative data on their suppliers. A great many are ISO certified. This designation, which is shown on a supplier’s profile on the website, only appears after the firm has uploaded the actual ISO certificate. MFG.com also uses a rating system so buyers can gain confidence through a track-record of supplier performance history and quality. Providing this confidence to people sourcing parts is a big deal. With so many people retiring (approximately 10,000 a day, according to the Washington Post), MFG.com has become a reliable online resource to connect industrial companies with suppliers who have specific skill sets – which is critical for America. America has been losing manufacturing capability for a long time. In 1980, manufacturing jobs accounted for over 22% of jobs in the USA; by 1990 that fell to 17%; by 2000 it dropped to 14%; and by 2010 to 10% (source: http://investing.curiouscatblog.net/2012/10/18/long-term-view-of-manufacturing-employment-in-the-usa/).
While there are fewer manufacturing jobs in America, this does not mean the world’s appetite for manufacturing has decreased – if anything, it has increased. The issue is that more manufacturing is now done in other countries. This is another area where MFG.com supports people sourcing manufacturing suppliers. MFG.com is a global marketplace that gives owners and end users access to manufacturers around the world. Anyone who needs a part, anywhere around the world, can find a manufacturer that is local to them – at no cost. There is no cost for companies to source suppliers on MFG.com.
MFG.com offers a dedicated support team to help people create and post RFQs, in addition to an engineering staff that verifies the accuracy of the engineering drawings that buyers upload. Every RFQ that gets released to the marketplace is reviewed by an internal team of engineers; and that internal review process has helped to catch oversights and increase the success of the overall manufacturing selection process.
The selection process has been further improved by the release of both a newly redesigned website, which streamlines the process for both buyers and suppliers, and a powerful new analytics tool (Shop IQ) that helps suppliers and manufacturers benchmark their bids against quotes from competitors. The tool, which is available to all paid subscribers of MFG.com, eliminates labor-intensive manual data reviews and delivers real-time analyses across dimensions such as manufacturing process, geographical region, material, and shop certification. ShopIQ enables suppliers and manufacturers to identify their ideal customer acquisition strategy, better gauge quotes on which to bid and optimal pricing, and safely test and refine new business strategies.
The bottom line is that owners of pumps need to include non-OEM manufacturers in their parts sourcing strategy. Learn more about MFG.com and all we have to offer. Click here if you are interested in finding a manufacturer for a small quantity of custom-made pump parts. Click here if you are a manufacturer interested in supporting those in need of pump parts.