Rohnert Park, CA--Latest surveys of Design News readers show that more than 80% of you are using the Internet in your work--60% turning to it daily. Finding product information even outranks E-mail as the number one reason engineers turn to the web.
Realizing this trend, OEM suppliers in every product category are scrambling to beef up their websites, as we note regularly in our "Cyberpage" column.
Among the leaders in creating useful web pages for customers is Parker Compumotor. Late last year, the company completely revamped its three-year-old website (www.compumotor.com), and also launched a separate "extranet" site.
"Engineers are really embracing the Internet. On our site, we're getting about 76,000 hits a month, including about 40,000 downloads of spec pages, application tips, and engineering drawings," says Bud Parer, manager of Information Systems for Compumotor.
Adds Compumotor Marketing Communications Director Andrew Stevens: "The idea is to create a central place where our customers can go for all the information they need from Compumotor. Our goal is to make it easy for people to do business with us."
A search engine allows users to locate specific products from Compumotor's broad offering of motors, drives, controllers and other products (the company's catalog runs more than 400 pages). The site also gives details on many typical motion control applications that engineers face every day, such as pick-and-place assembly, injection molding, surface grinding, contouring, labeling, conveyor systems, and many more. In fact, the company offers a free-vacation contest four times a year for customers who submit new motion control challenges they've solved with Compumotor products. A recent winner described a high-speed drilling application for a packaging machine.
The companion Compumotor "extranet" site is tailored for Compumotor's distributors, territory managers, customer service reps--and soon--key OEM accounts. By accessing this site, users can track the status of a new order (products are typically shipped within three to five days of order placement). Or they can check on a part that is being repaired by Compumotor.
"What is really exciting is the speedy way customers can place an order on the extranet," says Parer. "Say, you want to buy 10 servo drives. You can check on price and availability of a specific drive--and place your order--literally within 30 seconds. Compare this to the past when you might have had to wait a day for this information."
The extranet also eliminates the steady stream of paper tech bulletins, application notes, and other important Compumotor documents that engineers and distributors too often misplace. All this information is now posted on the extranet, along with education presentations on motion control systems.
Stevens says that the Compumotor websites have reduced the need to send published product information to customers by at least 20%, while providing a much more user-friendly spot to access all the latest Compumotor data. "In the past, when you sent a technical bulletin to a distributor, there was no way to insure that it would be circulated to every one of that distributor's application engineers."
Compumotor looks forward to the day when greater bandwidth will allow faster, richer, and more complete display of products and applications. The company also hopes to provide more online technical help and is considering use of credit cards for web commerce.