SMC’s E-Tech catalog became operational for testing in mid-2000. “This was just the core model of the catalog, and it had taken us about six months to put up,” says Giebutowski.
It took another eight months of development before the system went live in January 2001 with 75 products, says Hoffer. SMC spent a six-figure sum to get the system up and running. Plus, internally, the company went from having three staffers devoted to the Web site to eight.
Now, 1,500 products are available for 2-D and 3-D views on the E-Tech catalog site, with millions of potential combinations and configurations.
Three Major Benefits
Today’s SMC customers are generating and downloading nearly 30,000 CAD files a month from the company’s Web site, says Hoffer. And it’s all done at a fraction of what it previously cost SMC to create models individually. Its Web site has decreased annual sales support costs by $205,000 and thousands of man-hours, say officials at TechniCon.
From an operational perspective, customers determine when they need information as they work through their design processes. They don’t have to call and wait for a salesperson or engineer to do it for them, Giebutowski adds. This brings up three key benefits of SMC’s new electronic catalog:
1. 3-D drawings are easily accessible. By making a three-dimensionally accurate CAD drawing available on the Web, E-Tech allows SMC’s customers to specify products early in the design process — a boon to design engineers who previously had to use bulky and often outdated catalogs, or call a salesperson for help.
Now the necessary information is available to engineers in an up-to-the minute format via the E-Tech catalog. All this gives SMC a competitive edge. If SMC makes a design engineer’s job easier up front, he or she is more likely to specify SMC parts for the final product. And studies show that 90 percent of the parts originally designed into a product later are used in production, note officials at TechniCon.