ThomasNet.com: Sourcing Solution for the Marine Industry
Building relationships with reliable, high-quality suppliers is critical to the success of boat operators, naval architects, engineers and others in the marine industry. Having suppliers ‘on deck’ whose products meet shipbuilding and repair requirements is part of that equation. When marine equipment inevitably fails or reaches the end of its service life, maintenance personnel need to know where to turn for quick replacements. That’s where ThomasNet.com comes in.
ThomasNet.com is a free supplier discovery and product sourcing platform. Its predecessor, the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers, began publishing in 1914. The 34-volume buying guide, known in some circles as the ‘Green Books,’ was affectionately referred to as the “bible” for some engineers. Offering detailed information on hundreds of thousands of manufacturers and their products, the Thomas Register, like everyone else, has migrated to the net. Today, it is known as ThomasNet.com. The site is indexed into 67,000 supplier categories and features millions of industrial parts.
The backbone of ThomasNet.com is a huge database of over 700,000 North American manufacturers, distributors and service providers. The platform has several applications and productivity tools to make users’ jobs easier. For shipbuilding and repair professionals, the sections entitled Supplier Discovery, Product Sourcing and Custom Quotes will be especially helpful.
Supplier Discovery is an application that allows buyers and engineers to quickly come up with a shortlist of viable suppliers. A search box lets users define all important qualifiers from the start, such as product/service category, location, ownership type (for meeting diversity requirements), certifications (ISO, ANSI, etc.) and company type. Suppliers have in-depth profiles on ThomasNet.com, with information on their capabilities, equipment, product lines, brand names carried, demographics, certifications, product news, and more. Many offer videos, which give engineers a chance to see these suppliers’ facilities. This content helps users narrow their shortlists and decide which companies to contact for bids. In fact, they can even send Requests for Proposals (RFPs) right from ThomasNet.com.
When a technician needs to replace a flange that’s failed, or an engineer needs new mounting brackets, they can turn to ThomasNet.com’s Product Sourcing application. Users can find more than 100 million items here, including raw materials, equipment, MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) supplies and finished products. These are featured in line item detail and can be sourced by multiple specifications. Some products come with user manuals, which can be a real help when making repairs. Other listings are accompanied by “exploded view” diagrams to help engineers ensure that a part will meet their exact needs. For example, a search for marine pumps turned up 58 different products to choose from. Narrowing the search by pump type (axial flow, centrifugal, etc.) and a variety of other qualifiers like maximum discharge pressure, casting design and mounting type helps the user zero in on exactly what they are looking for.
Through the Product Sourcing application, users have access to millions of downloadable 2-D and 3-D CAD drawings and models. These provide engineers with proof that the parts they’re considering will fit into the products they’re designing. Engineers can download the models from ThomasNet.com and insert them directly into their designs, since their underlying technology is compatible with virtually all CAD systems. They can also e-mail the drawings and specifications to colleagues.
Often, shipbuilders need custom parts and have to turn to a job shop to provide them. ThomasNet.com’s Custom Quotes application makes it easy to find local shops that provide welding, cutting, finishing, fabricating and other services. Engineers can submit RFQs to ThomasNet.com’s team of engineers, who will recommend up to five qualified shops.
As a one-stop-platform, ThomasNet.com offers a wealth of resources for users in the marine industry. To learn more, potential users can sign up for ThomasNet Onsite. A free, customized training service, available on premise or via webinar, can introduce users to all services and help them solve their sourcing challenges. www.ThomasNet.com
(As published in the May 2015 edition of Marine News - http://magazines.marinelink.com/Magazines/MaritimeNews)