Manufacturers Use CAD and 3D Parts Catalogs to Generate Leads

For a while now, manufacturers have been using online searchable product catalogs to generate new leads and sales. Downloadable CAD files have played a major role in components and parts being designed in – a key and necessary step in the industrial buying process.

I have written about the benefits of creating an online CAD library in several of my posts in the past. See my previous article, “Details Matter in Creating Content for Engineers.”

I believe it was ThomasNet that had pioneered the use of online CAD drawings in the industrial sector. Their unique CAD technology allowed manufacturers to put 3D CAD models of their products directly into the hands of more than 100,000 engineers and architects who had registered on their site. That was back in 2005. I’m sure that number has grown significantly since then.

I found it quick and easy to search through the more than 67,000 categories listed in their CAD library. With just two clicks, I was able to narrow down my search to Pumps, Valves & Accessories > Valves: High Pressure. I could then select a specific manufacturer’s CAD library to view.

The entire application is built to help engineers, designers and specifiers find the right part quickly and easily. That in turn helps manufacturers get in early in the industrial sales cycle and generate more sales opportunities.

A company called PARTsolutions LLC provides applications for 3D part catalog management and hosting. They bill themselves as “The leading provider of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions in delivering software solutions for standard parts management, part consolidation and classification, and specialized product configurators and digital product catalogs.” Quite a mouthful!

Rob Zesch, President of PARTsolutions said “Our technology has rapidly become a core strategy for companies of all sizes to get their products selected, designed in and purchased, with 80 percent of design engineers indicating that multiple units will be purchased for production once downloaded.”

I was impressed by the phenomenal results (leads and sales) reported by some of the manufactures using PARTsolutions’ application. Here are some stats and quotes from one of their press releases:

  • Designers and engineers downloaded 48 million 3D CAD product models – or an average of 4 million per month – across the globe in 2010. That represents a 27 percent increase in downloads over 2009.
  • These downloads resulted in the global sale of more than $25 billion in supplier components last year.
  • “During the recent economic downturn, we were looking for a new and innovative way to leverage our technical expertise and provide a useful resource to the end-users of our attachment chain products,” said George Basel, Director of Marketing, U.S. Tsubaki. “The Tsubaki Attachment Chain Configurator provides a service that none of our competitors have and helps to drive more traffic to our website, generate new inquiries, and ultimately grow our sales.”
  • “The sales team is taking advantage of the leads produced by the PARTcatalog technology, and have realized the value of them. The percentage of these downloads that provide us with an introduction to a new customer is incredible,” said Justin Alspaugh, Engineering Supervisor, RWM. “Working with PARTsolutions to deliver 3D Part Catalog Technology continues to benefit our business and bottom line.”

WOW! Now that’s truly relevant and engaging content. It is driving engineers to take action, resulting in more leads and sales for manufacturers.

I’m not suggesting that these are your only options for building an online CAD library. (NOTE: I’m not affiliated in anyway with any of companies mentioned in this post.) I have built CAD libraries for my manufacturing clients without using either of these applications. I’ve also linked CAD drawings to online stores where site visitors can instantly buy standard components.      

Does your company provide an online CAD library?

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