Gregory, you have run into a real problem with search engines on the Internet. This is a problem of favoring speed over accuracy. I guess that for free search that is what you get. Oh, wait a minute, it's not free. Search is paid for by advertising.
The problem you point out is an important issue in using search results. I wonder if most people will remember a time, not long ago, when someone would mention the number of results of a search as a serious quantity. Then, perhaps, they noticed that almost any simple query returned hundreds of thousands of results. If one looked at it, one would find that the results after the first couple of pages were not relevant.
Another point in your article is very important. You need to make sure that the vendor is legitimate. You really need to go at least one step further. You need to test the items. I have seen situations where manufacturers got items from their normal reseller, but from a different supplier, and the items turned out to have problems. They ended up either loosing the manufacturer lots of money, or putting them out of business. A reputable manufacturer is really a must.
"Free" (to the user) directories like Global Spec are notorious for including all kinds of products one is not looking for, even when an "advanced" search engine is provided. I've encountered this there and elsewhere, including trade show directories, when looking for companies I write about, or might write about. Sometimes the problem is in the design of the category choices vendors must select, sometimes it's because the vendors check off too many boxes in those categories. Overall, I think it's because the directory is not paying people to QC the data.
Naperlou, thank you for your comments. The issue of screening new suppliers has certainly become more complex and risky than ever before, with new manufacturers from around the world claiming quality products are reduced costs. As you say, no one wants to, or has the time to wade through hundreds of thousands of (maybe) qualified suppliers. In our work, we came across many from China with incredibly low prices, but no US sales representation, no ISO, and no warrantee. Certainly not of interest for a serious user. Once you have this list of potential suppliers, as you said, they need to be tested, as catalog specs can be marketing/copied and/or theoretical numbers. The testing then needs to weed out the non-performers, but can be time and cost intensive, and sometimes awfully hard to justify. A conundrum!
There is a new company, Industrial Product Reports, which provides a Consumer Reports type service for industrial products (www.industrialproductreports.com). Thoughts?
At this year's MD&M West show, lots of material suppliers are talking about new formulations for wearables and things that stick to the skin, whether it's adhesives, wound dressings, skin patches and other drug delivery devices, or medical electronics.
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