Like most manufacturers, Anchor Hocking’s machines utilize a variety of custom-made parts in its processes that wear out over time. Poor quality replacements can bring operations to a standstill, just as easily as overpriced ones. One engineer’s solution is transforming the company’s approach to procuring custom-made parts.
The Manufacturing Challenge:
As a process engineer at the Lancaster plant, Eric Goldman’s job is to keep operations running. He works within the forming group, where the molten glass is turned into a shape. Over time, the custom tooling and parts that adapt the tooling to the plant’s machines wear out and must be replaced.
Anchor Hocking’s sourcing staff has neither the time nor the expertise to deal with machine part procurements. So, it is up to Eric to, as he puts it “to buy as many spare parts as I can get within my purchasing authority.”
“Poor quality replacements can bring operations to a standstill, just as easily as overpriced ones”
Traditionally, he went to local machine shops. “I might call four or five random machine shops in the area and spend a lot of time doing it,” he says. Eric had no idea how competitive the quotes were, except insofar as how the bids compared to each other. He suspected the pricing was high and wanted to find manufacturers or suppliers that could keep his costs down.
Eric remembered a former colleague had mentioned MFG.com, an online manufacturing marketplace that brings buyers and suppliers together. That co-worker had put a job out for quote and received numerous bids back that were much less expensive than his go-to suppliers.
Eric decided to give MFG.com a try.
Love at First Sight:
“I registered with MFG.com,” said Eric, “and it was completely free of charge. I was assigned a sourcing advisor who was extremely knowledgeable and answered every question I had. He's good not only with technical advice on how to use the MFG.com website but also with strategic advice on how to get the most value out of it. He’s helped me define the quote and lead times to maximize response from the vendor base, showed me how to distribute the quotes and much more.”
The first custom part Eric put out for bid had cost $240 each through a local shop. Eric shares, “Now I am buying the same exact part for $40 each through an MFG.com supplier. That’s an 83 percent discount.”
And, according to Eric, seeing savings of 60 to 70 percent is typical.
How MFG.com Works:
Chris Mitchell is MFG.com’s chief marketing officer. Chris explains, “Our business model allows buyers to register and put jobs out for quote free, but manufacturers or suppliers must subscribe to use the platform. Each subscription is different, as the supplier defines the specific jobs, processes and geographic markets of interest. Then, our filters sort the requests for quotes they see by manufacturing process, part size, run size, material and more.”
Chris adds, “We put a lot of emphasis on customer service on both sides of the platform. Our staff assists buyers in loading their RFQs, evaluating their engineering drawings and defining parameters. Our application even includes multi-level intellectual property (IP) protection.”
“We also place emphasis on recruiting buyers and bringing new job opportunities to our suppliers,” adds Chris. “Shops will see RFQs from inventors, entrepreneurs, major corporations and federal agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.”
Chris relates that MFG.com recently made a tool called ShopIQ available to subscribers. He explains, “Manufacturers that have accumulated a bidding history of a year or so can use ShopIQ to analyze their bids relative to all the competition, not just the successful bidder. ShopIQ can tell a supplier whether it overbid or underbid on its quote, the types of jobs and the geographic regions where it is most competitive and a host of other great insights. This kind of feedback is beyond the reach of most small to medium-size manufacturers.”
Eric adds, “It's very simple to put an RFQ together. You upload it once and you get quotes back instead of having to individually contact numerous machine shops. Then, I take a look at each website and try to get a sense of the business and how long it’s been in operation. MFG.com also posts manufacturer reviews that I'll read. Then, depending on how critical the part is, I might go with a higher priced bid just to go with a supplier that I've dealt with before. For low-risk parts, I will go with someone new if it is the best price.”
Good News Travels Fast:
Eric now considers MFG.com as his go-to site for custom machine parts. And he’s shared his enthusiasm with co-workers at his Anchor Hocking plant. Two other employees – one in the mold shop and another in automatic handling – are now using MFG.com for their custom parts.
According to Eric, “One just put out his first bid and within the first 24 hours got back a quote for $125 each on a part he had been buying for $400 each. He’s going to leave it out for a week and see what happens, but he's already pleased.”
Eric calls MFG.com “the eBay of custom-manufactured parts.” He says, “It allows me to reach a very competent supplier base that I otherwise could not reach.” Best of all, Eric estimates that purchasing custom-made parts via MFG.com has saved his department and the company over $70,000 in just the past 14 months.