CAD Central

30 Nov, 2005 By: Sara Ferris Cadalyst

Industrial Buyers Say Suppliers Fail to Provide Web-based Product Data

Industrial buyers favor the Internet as a resource for product information, but many suppliers are not keeping pace with buyers' needs, according to a recent survey of more than 900 industrial purchasers and suppliers sponsored by and Google.

Of the buyers surveyed, nine out of ten turn to the Internet for some aspect of their work, spending an average of 8 hours per week online. Around 70% expect to find detailed information on product applications and uses online, but say that only half (53%) of sellers' sites provide it.

More than 40% seek CAD drawings and plans, but only 13% of sellers offer them online. Purchasers also look for product prices (74%) and shipping information (67%).

Interestingly, 55% of industrial suppliers say they spend a major portion of their marketing budget on their company Web site.

Of the buyers who research and compare products online, 97% took some sort of further action, either online or off, such as requesting a quote (56%) or issuing a purchase order (59%). A full 86% recommended or selected a new supplier or product based on what they found online.

"Industrial buyers will guide sellers to the money if sellers ensure their Web sites think first of their user, the role they're in and the information they require to satisfy that role and put that information at their buyers' fingertips," said Anthea C. Stratigos, co-founder and CEO of Outsell, a research and advisory firm.

"The results echo some 2,000 interviews we've done between 2001 and 2005, which reinforce that the Internet is the hands-down venue of choice for today's industrial buyer."


Arena Solutions launched a supplier marketplace to assist users of its on-demand PLM software product in finding product design firms, contract manufacturers, component suppliers and fabricators who also use Arena software. The network is accessible via the Arena Web site ( or directly through the Arena application. Arena reports that nearly 100 suppliers have signed up as members. " We're opening up new opportunities for global suppliers and OEMs to interact and engage," says Arena CEO Michael Topolovac. He notes that Arena's on-demand model makes it easy for customers to include suppliers in their PLM workflow. Suppliers don't need to install or download software, and free online training is available. Topolovac says his company's 15,000 customers fall primarily in the high-tech, consumer products, and medical device industries. Issues they hope to address with PLM include outsourcing, design of complex products, time to market and regulatory compliance.

AEC Software Encourages Green Building Practices

The rate of adoption of green building elements is accelerating, with the use of high-efficiency HVAC systems leading the way, reports Autodesk in its first Autodesk Green Index, a study commissioned to evaluate the use of green design elements and practices by architects.

More and more architects also are using design software to predict and evaluate HVAC operating costs, solar lighting and retention basins for stormwater runoff. Green Building Studio, for example, works with data from BIM applications to perform whole-building energy analyses.

The study queried practicing architects on their use of 16 green design practices five years ago, in the last 12 months and expected use five years from now. The practices are based on the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.

"We will see a dramatic increase in the very near future in the green design strategies architects use to design buildings," said Phil Bernstein, FAIA, LEED AP, vice-president of Autodesk Building Solutions Division. "Architects and designers will need to be increasingly familiar with materials research, energy and atmosphere management alternatives and design software tools that facilitate these new green design practices using building information models."

Fifty-two percent of the architects reported that the leading obstacle to green design practices is cost/ budget. They also believe that the greatest impetus for the adoption of green initiatives will come from higher energy costs for heating, cooling and lighting, with government intervention being another potential influence on adoption.

Applying for LEED certification will also become easier thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Green Building Council and Adobe Systems. The two have designed a process—based on Adobe's LiveCycle forms-processing server software, Acrobat desktop software and PDF-based forms—that puts a paper-intensive, tedious process entirely online.

Users will be able to complete and submit the certification documentation electronically using browser software and obtain feedback earlier in the design process.

The system should also reduce the cost of LEED certification and further encourage the adoption of green building techniques by building owners and their design consultants.

About the Author: Sara Ferris

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