E•DRIVE Design, Inc.
“With the CDS solution we have more control and CDS is really accessible and responsive. Our distributors really like the system, they’ve all been trained to use it and often pullout a laptop right in front of a customer and configure, price, and generate the CAD model of our product. We’ve had numerous distributor compliments about it as a sales enabler and no complaints at all. We have also reduced our call traffic by ~75% - we seldom need to give pricing over the phone or send out CAD models to individuals or keep answering the same question– it’s all automated online now and in a way that has vastly improved the user and distributor experience of doing business with E•DRIVE.”
- Todd Pannone, Senior Product Design Engineer
E•DRIVE Design, Inc., (www.edriveactuators.com) is a West Hartford, CT based manufacturer of heavy duty precision mechanical linear actuators used in the high tech linear motion markets both nationally and internationally.
How does an industrial manufacturer of Precision Mechanical Linear Actuators best leverage the internet to service their customers, enable their distributors, gain a competitive advantage and build their business?
Catalog Data Solutions interviewed Todd Pannone, Senior Product Design Engineer, E•DRIVE Design, Inc.(E•DRIVE) for this case study, to present how E•DRIVE arrived at their current solution and what they learned from iterations along the way. Todd explained, “Our precision mechanical actuators are used in the high tech linear motion markets and most of our incoming calls were technical and sales queries about our wide and diverse product range, pricing and requests for CAD models.”
CDS: How does E•DRIVE enable their products to be easily searched and found online?
E•DRIVE: ”Initially we created a website and outsourced the CAD models and downloads to SolidWorks 3DPartStream® on another website – this was our learning curve and we found out that this didn’t work well. Our distributors and customers first had to search and find the right product and price on our website then repeat the same search on the 3DPartStream® site so as to download the CAD model they needed. Also 3DPartStream® didn’t create 3D CAD models themselves, so a 3rd party had to be contracted to create the models. For these and other reasons the user experience wasn’t satisfactory and managing all the parties involved was less than optimal. We also learned that pricing should only be available to our official distributors, since when it was generally available competitors used it to undercut us. Unfortunately we found our existing supplier (3DPartStream®) to be unresponsive to our needs. Next we talked to ThomasNET® who offered to build us a new website encompassing everything we needed including CAD, but the high cost was prohibitive for us. Then we discovered Catalog Data Solutions (CDS) and their Software as a Service (SaaS) approach. This allowed us to keep our existing website and pull into it the CDS Catalog and ModelServer capabilities. Our web site now has the added features of TODD parametric search and CAD downloads. “
The main technical and business reasons why E•DRIVE switched from 3DPartStream® to the CDS Online Catalog and CDS ModelServer Solutions includes all of the following:
1. Achieve our goals and overcome the limitations of our initial approach – today we use one integrated search on the E•DRIVE site rather than 2 separate searches one on the E•DRIVE site and one on the 3DPartStream® site.
2. We keep visitor traffic at the E•DRIVE website rather than loose it to 3DPartStream® site .CDS is a one stop shop for the whole service – not only the catalog, CAD generation/viewing/download solution, but also CAD download analytic reports, products evolve or new products are introduced responsibility.
3. Value for money – CDS’ SaaS Solution meant no software or hardware to purchase, just an initial setup fee and an annual subscription fee thereafter. We can add new products to our online catalog with 3D CAD anytime. Bottom line CDS offer much more value for our marketing dollar as compared to either 3DPartStream® or ThomasNET®.
4. Flexibility – CDS was able to provide a customized web service to display our distributor pricing to a select group of authenticated website visitors.
CDS: What Benefits and ROI has the CDS Online CAD Solution provided to E•DRIVE? What benefits did you expect and what have actually been achieved?
E•DRIVE: “With the CDS solution we have more control and CDS is really accessible and responsive. Our distributors really like the system, they’ve all been trained to use it and often pullout a laptop right in front of a customer and configure, price, and generate the CAD model of our product. We’ve had numerous distributor compliments about it as a sales enabler and no complaints at all. We have also reduced our call traffic by ~75% - we seldom need to give pricing over the phone or send out CAD models to individuals or keep answering the same question– it’s all automated online now and in a way that has vastly improved the user and distributor experience of doing business with E•DRIVE.”
CDS: Can you quantify the value of the CAD model downloads for E•DRIVE customers?
E•DRIVE: “As our top sales person, Marc Angers, put it, ‘the CAD download portion has been a great tool that customers and distributors have found invaluable. It’s especially obvious when you walk through the selection with a customer.Distributor feedback has been very positive too, it’s a really useful tool when any of us are in front of the customers’.”
CDS: Why did E•DRIVE choose CDS? How was it to work with CDS?
E•DRIVE: “CDS engineers took the time to understand E•DRIVE’ s product range fully, and by the way that’s not easy as it’s a very broad range, but with that knowledge they were able to implement this Catalog and CAD download solution in an efficient and high quality manner. We see the online pricing as a distinct competitive advantage.”
CDS: What is your overall satisfaction with the system? W ere there areas for CDS improvement? Would you be willing to recommend CDS?
E•DRIVE: “CDS was able to deliver a custom web service for our distributor pricing in only a few weeks, we are delighted with the results and the relationship – I can thoroughly recommend CDS.
CDS: What are your future plans?
E•DRIVE: “We are going to add a new range of very powerful actuators – up to 90,000 lb force – CDS will build the models and add the products and pricing into the solution.”