How digital component parts are increasing lead generation and driving sales for industrial manufacturers
Industrial manufacturers are always looking to find lost revenue or cost savings from their existing company assets. They have streamlined their manufacturing processes to find and eliminate every ounce of waste. Their supply chain operates at maximum efficiency, maximizing profit while reducing materials cost. With a manufacturing business running at Six Sigma levels of efficiency, sometimes it is difficult to find the next opportunity to reduce cost or generate new revenue.
Many have found the next boost for their bottom line is right under their nose, waiting to be discovered in their parts bin. We’re not talking about hocking old parts on eBay or having a warehouse garage sale. We are talking about the revenue potential of the digital parts bin as a lead generation and sales tool.
Engineers download millions of parts models every month because they need these digital components to complete their designs. When they are looking to specify a component into their design, they visit (and revisit) manufacturers who provide digital parts on their websites. Why do engineers care about digital parts? They care because digital parts make their jobs easier and their designs more accurate.
How does the digital part bin boost leads and sales?
When manufacturers provide customers access to their digital designs, they create an entirely new stream of sales leads which boost sales opportunities and the bottom line. Engineers register their email address with the manufacturer’s site in exchange for access to the parts catalog. It’s a win-win situation for the client and the manufacturer. The engineer gets the digital model for their design and the company gets a highly qualified lead for their sales team to engage with.
The untapped revenue potential of the digital parts bin is often large, but manufacturer’s need to efficiently utilize the parts in a safe, secure way while ALSO reaching the largest audience. These opposing criteria can be seen as a major hurdle to a successful project, but when approached correctly they create a powerful sales and marketing tool.
Common Pitfalls When MFG’s Unlock their Digital Parts Bin
- Not providing parts with the full part number in meta-data: When an engineer downloads a part, that model is then carried along the process with the assembly, ultimately landing on the bill of materials (BOM). If the digital part has inaccurate, or incomplete metadata, the part will not be specified for purchase and procurement will research (and buy) another part.
- Providing parts in only a few formats: A common shortcut is when manufacturers provide digital parts only in the format they use themselves, or a few “neutral” formats. Neutral parts often have broken geometry and functionality, and lack the rich metadata that native files have, which is why engineers don’t prefer them. It’s like when you try to use a .TXT file in word, it works to the extent that you can read the words, but it’s nowhere near as powerful as a native word document.
- Using their actual designs: It’s a bad idea for manufacturers to take their actual engineering drawings and post them on their website for anyone to use. This shares its intellectual property with the world. A better way is to have a digital part catalog provider create “form, fit and function” models. Engineers can then use these “hollow” parts exactly like a real engineering drawing, except the vital intellectual property is safely removed.
- Burying digital parts on their website: Often when manufacturers provide digital parts they put them in areas of their website where they are essentially buried, forcing customers to “drill down” through several levels of their site to find the model on a product page. They’re forgetting that this is a key reason why clients and engineers will return to the site. By placing an access point for the entire digital part catalog front and center on a manufacturer’s home page, they help customers quickly access the data they need, and provide an excellent digital customer experience.
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