3Diligent has announced updates to its Industry 4.0 software and services; the CEO fills us in on what these mean for procurement and manufacturing shops.
The California-based company offers agile solutions for advanced manufacturing, including a broad network of digital manufacturing. Its flagship offering is, as CEO Cullen Hilkene told me in our recent virtual chat, really focused on the procurement side.
“Customers would come to our web platform, specify their requirements, and use our team and algorithms to assess and price,” he explained. “We saw a big opportunity to advance our overarching mission of accelerating innovation by way of connecting companies to those technologies and manufacturers who operate those technologies.”
ProdEx & Shopsight
To take advantage of that opportunity, today 3Diligent is launching its latest software updates: ProdEx and Shopsight.
While the two introductions are unique from one another in their offerings and functionalities, their biggest benefit is in being used together.
“We are massively streamlining our procurement service and relaunching and rebranding that as ProdEx, where our customers are able to utilize a bundle of different tools to have greater control over the suppliers in the network to use, what certifications and paperwork they wanted associated, which materials and machinery they wanted to use — adding additional functionality there. With this additional technical insight, we have a massive database of materials and technologies, and use powerful search tools as well as filtering tools so users can identify viable tools for themselves. There’s a great deal of efficiency bundled with what is a really powerful pricing engine that enables real-time pricing; when customers are selecting items in our network we have the ability to instantly price,” Hilkene told me.
3Diligent’s flagship offering is its procurement service for digital manufacturing. Now dubbed ProdEx, the service allows for procurement buyers and engineers developing products to source their parts through 3Diligent’s secure web portal, leveraging dynamic assessment, quoting, and request fulfillment offerings. ProdEx connects users to almost 350 manufacturing plants in 20 countries on six continents, gaining access to 3D printing, CNC machining, sheet metal, casting, and injection molding technologies. Interestingly, ProdEx does not include a cost to submit RFQs.
ProdEx has what Hilkene calls a direct interplay with today’s other launch, Shopsight.
“ProdEx dovetails seamlessly with our manufacturing excellence software, Shopsight, which helps manufacturers be more efficient in pre-production, deliver better quality in the production stage, and win more business for integration with products,” Hilkene told me of this launch. “It is a software-as-a-service. In the pre-production phase, we have integrated a number of tools that allow our suppliers to assess jobs using a number of criteria; they can plug in parameter sets and dictate what they’re capable of making, and associate pricing profiles with those different parameter sets when they run those machines. Literally with the click of a button they can assess product opportunities, from us through ProdEx as well as their own, and price in an instant. Pricing can be a major, major pain for shops.”
For pre-production, Shopsight can determine the technology/material combinations that are viable for their job “in seconds,” and then estimate pricing “just seconds later,” as 3Diligent puts it. Speeding these pain points can remove hours of manual analysis and assessment, as well as reworking and requoting parts.
For production, Shopsight can “break down job opportunities into specific jobs,” Hilkene explained to me.
“The orders they receive can be built into task lists associated with those jobs, that can then route around their shop floor,” he said of operations with Shopsight. “There’s visibility every step of the way. And the key component for quality assurance: certifications. These are key benefits for any company looking to get greater efficiency out of their machinery and deliver better products to their customers.”
Integrated task lists, job routing, and audit trails help the fabricators taking on the manufacturing work ensure consistent quality and efficiency upon receiving orders.
A third leg of the Shopsight offering, as Hilkene noted, is that those who opt into being a ProdEx vendor can have job opportunities sent their way. This allows for shop operators to not only use Shopsight to ease and support existing accounts but also add a route to new customer (and revenue) opportunities.
“There are integrated communication tools into the site so they can video chat with us, and directly with their customers, at this subscription level. Especially in these coronavirus times when visiting sites is not something you necessarily want to do in the same way you might have been able to do in the past — it’s all integrated right into the software. You can keep that connection to your customers as strong as it can possibly be in light of current conditions,” Hilkene said.
Both ProdEx and Shopsight are available now; “they play nice with one another,” Hilkene added. He mentioned that that nice interplay is visible with COVID-19 response: “We’ve uploaded a number of FDA/NIH designs, and customers can place orders for what they want utilizing all the functionality I’ve described.” As Shopsight is in beta launch, it is currently offered at no charge, and 3Diligent’s release notes that “Those who sign up now will receive preferred pricing on the subscription service when it is made generally available.”