After several discussions, SMC officials determined that an online catalog rather than a CD-ROM catalog was the direction they’d take.
The next question to be answered: Which online catalog vendor(s) would be able to best accomplish the tasks SMC required? The job needed both Web catalog design expertise with an eye toward complex business-to-business manufacturing environments, as well as a knowledge of how to build and work with CAD models.
SMC devised a request for proposal and sent it to five vendors. “Three responded with proposals, two of which we liked enough to do site visits. We had a list of 30 to 40 criteria we were looking for, including price, of course, but more importantly things like being able to maintain our own data.”
SMC chose SolidWorks in Concord, Mass., for its expertise in working with configurable CAD files. And it selected TechniCon, an Emeryville, Calif.-based Web catalog solutions firm experienced in creating online industrial catalogs with validation parameters and selection criteria that would work with SMC’s products. If possible, SMC asked, could they create a project team by bringing the two vendor companies together? The answer was “yes.”
TechniCon’s Custom-Commerce Web catalog solution was integrated with SolidWorks’ 3D PartStream.Net CAD model-building service. This gave SMC the tools and expertise it needed to get its new E-Tech catalog up and running. “TechniCon supplies the software used for our front-end Web site interface, while SolidWorks provides the back-end CAD models. So they work hand-in-hand,” explains Hoffer.
When SMC approached SolidWorks in early 2000 with its challenge of building CAD models for its electronic catalog, SolidWorks already had Web-enabled its own software and could display 3-D models on a computer screen.
Jim Giebutowski, director of sales and marketing for SolidWorks’ 3D content solutions, says its software originally had been designed for single users. “So we had to adapt the system to the Internet and to multiple users.” SolidWorks worked with SMC on one of two beta tests on the 3D PartStream.Net project.