Like most people who work for small companies, Russell Slegel of Dynacut, a Springtown, Penn.-based company that produces diamond saws, abrasive saws and cutting systems, wears many hats. He¹s responsible for prototype development and design implementation, and he oversees the company¹s Web site. Slegel appreciates any resource he can find that helps make his job easier.
The four employees of Dynacut work in an approximately 3,000-square-foot facility, and company owner Robert Platt lives above the shop. Dynacut works mostly with the ceramics and glass industries with clients such as Lucent Technologies, General Electric, Sylvania, Philips Lighting, Sandia Labs, the federal government, colleges and research institutions.
In need of a high-speed, high-precision, aircraft-aluminum rotary seal housing with a tolerance of 0.0005 inches, Slegel logged onto the Internet to search for machine shops and machining services. Dynacut used to make this item in-house but were in need of more parts and wanted to outsource it. Slegel had already called local shops but couldn¹t find anyone who wasn't too busy to make the part for Dynacut.
During his Internet keyword search, Slegel linked to SupplierOne.com, an e-marketplace for made-to-order parts and decided to give it a try. "It sounded like a great idea," Slegel says. "I thought, 'What have I got to lose?' I had already called people, waited and spent 15 minutes chatting before I discovered that they were too busy to make our parts."
Slegel filled out SupplierOne's online RFQ form, uploaded his specifications, elected to use SupplierOne's existing database of prequalified suppliers, and a few days later, started receiving proposals. Dynacut had purchased the same part six years ago from a supplier who was a friend of the boss and paid $7.50. This time around, Slegel expected to spend about $16 per part. Through SupplierOne Slegel chose the sealed-bid approach and received one quote for $18, one for $17, one for $9 and one for $6.95.
With the bids came detailed information on each potential supplier. "A $7 part doesn't do me any good if it doesn't fit," Slegel says. However, he investigated the low bidder, Ramsey, Minn.-based QED Manufacturing and liked what he saw. "I looked at the number of employees, how long they had been in business and the kind of equipment they had, and it looked like a reputable place," Slegel says. "The information was complete enough that I got a good feeling about the company. It's a small shop, but they have all the right equipment for just about anything."
Slegel placed the order and forwarded blueprints and a purchase order for 100 parts. Slegel also talked on the telephone with QED Manufacturing President Steve Horner to learn more about the company's operations.
Slegel had allowed for plenty of lead-time to make sure the supplier could schedule the job into his existing work load. When Slegel received the parts at the end of April, he was pleasantly surprised at the high quality. "Usually, we¹ll have problems with 5 to 10 percent of the parts being unusable," he says. "We got our order from QED, and one part had a tight thread. We fixed it, and we had a 100-percent order. The quality was super."
Using SupplierOne.com enabled Slegel to find a supplier that he wouldn't have located if left to his own devices. "I wouldn¹t have called Minnesota from here in Pennsylvania," Slegel says. "ut I would now that I know the work they do." Dynacut now uses SupplierOne to place additional orders with QED Manufacturing.
As Easy as 1, 2, 3
To use SupplierOne, buyers submit an online RFQ on forms organized by product category and upload a CAD drawing of the component. If desired, buyers can indicate what level of quality certification they want bidders to have. SupplierOne matches the RFQ with suppliers who are notified and respond online with quotes, questions or recommendations. The buyer then reviews the responses and selects the supplier.