Share this Project! How our users are finding more efficient ways to use


During my first few months as an engineer out of college I designed an assembly that would allow me to tighten a knurled nut, increase friction between multiple surfaces, and ultimately regulate the torque applied between a motor and a shaft.  I spent weeks iterating this design and probably a few thousand dollars in machining time before I realized I could buy what I needed for a few hundred dollars from dozens of companies within 50 miles of my plant.

If this hadn’t also been a learning experience, would this have been a dumb thing to do?  I’m a little more versed in available products now, so finding a simple clutch mechanism would be a no brainer, right?  Actually, I think the answer to both of these questions is an emphatic NO.

Engineering applications are so complex and so varied that industrial products have to come in thousands of variations to satisfy even the most basic set of circumstances.  That clutch could be made of hundreds of different materials, be designed for shafts varying from 1/32″ to a few feet, need to be electrically insulating (or conductive), work in snow and ice, work in dusty environments, maintain the same torque at 1 rpm or 500,000 rpm, among hundreds of other specs.  Beyond that, the number of basic clutch designs could fill a catalog on their own.

The Problem

When engineers tackle applications that are outside their past experience, they aren’t going to know what products to use or what’s even available.  Often, they don’t even know where to start looking.  I once spent weeks searching for a machine that would let me mix water with detergent at a ratio of 1:200±5.  Once I figured out what it was called, and who sold them, it turned out there were dozens on the market.

The initial research was not useful and was hardly educational.  It was time wasted finding an obscure product that I’ll never need again.   This is common in R&D.

In both the stories above, I found myself repeating my problem over and over again-on the phone to inside sales people and outside sales engineers, to other engineers in my office and to my manager, to the maintenance guys and the machinists.  Eventually the collaboration of all these people offering their input resulted in me finding what I needed.

The Industrial Interface Solution

The effectiveness of this collaboration is one of the major reasons we built Industrial Interface.  The point is that little gets done in manufacturing without a handful (if not dozens) of minds working together–engineers, purchasers, managers, machinists, suppliers, and others.  Why continue to have the same conversation over and over again?  This is why we have created a way for engineers, purchasers, maintenance, an others to create a Sourcing Profile and easily share it with dozens of relevant suppliers.

What we didn’t realize was how much our users would be leveraging this feature themselves to communicate with colleagues.  We had thought this was mostly a buyer to supplier relationship, but it’s not, and our customers are showing us this.  Once a Sourcing Profile is created, our users are sharing it with anyone who can help move their project forward, be it colleagues or suppliers.

How Does It Work?

Industrial Interface let’s you post all the details of a sourcing need or design problem.  You can outline the problem, lay out design specs, list required supplier certifications, volumes, lead times, etc… Then you have a Sourcing Profile that you can send along to colleagues and suppliers with the click of a button.  Hit “Share this Lead” enter a few email addresses, and you’re off and running.

In the mean time, Industrial Interface’s proprietary software identifies relevant suppliers and also shares your project with them… so you don’t have to.  You don’t even need to be aware that they exist.  You remain anonymous through this process until these suppliers create accounts on our system, get approved, and pay to contact you.  That’s how we ensure you only get contacted by relevant suppliers who can act as a technical resource.

Right now we’ve reduced weeks of sourcing to a few days, and are seeing engineers find the right suppliers within 10 minutes sometimes.  As our system grows, and more engineers and suppliers are using it, we hope to find our users working together in real time.  Wouldn’t that be a great change?

An Example from our System

How do you most effectively find industrial products and services?

Category: Efficiency, Engineering & Design, Technical Search, Tips and Tutorials for our Users

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2 Responses

  1. [...] know a lot of people still like to browse online industrial listings even though Industrial Interface will do all that work for you, so we created a great little search engine that indexes 40 of the most popular and comprehensive [...]

  2. [...] not for you, and indicate that this project is outside of your competencies.  You then “Share This Lead” with the same sales person mentioned in Option A, and maybe the sales person refers business [...]

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