Fictiv announced a very interesting addition to their manufacturing service: quality inspections.
The San Francisco-based company operates a worldwide network of over 250 professional manufacturers, and presents a standardized interface to clients wishing to have parts produced. Fictiv routes the requests to the appropriate party for fulfillment.
Fictiv is not unique; there are several other manufacturing networks, some quite large. Normally these parties compete with each other on a few dimensions including locations served and, mostly, manufacturing processes and materials. A service might start with 3D printing, and then add laser cutting or CNC milling, for example. Some services have quite the portfolio of services available.
Now Fictiv announced a couple of new additions that I don’t believe other manufacturing networks yet offer.
The first, and probably most important, is quality inspections. This involves measuring the parts after production to ensure they fall within the required tolerance levels. Typically this refers to dimensions and surface quality, but there are plenty of other quality measures, too.
Fictiv explains the new offering:
“Available through its digital quote-to-order platform, customers can now seamlessly add advanced inspection reports for an unlimited number of critical features using CMM, laser, or optical measurement technologies. Using Fictiv’s intuitive interface, customers can specify inspection criteria against the number of parts and points of inspection and then view instant pricing and lead time impact.”
The results appear as an “Advanced Inspection Report”, which details the results of the quality inspection. Customers can see at a glance that the parts meet requirements, and can pass on this information for any downstream users of the parts.
Secondly, Fictiv also announced another feature they call “Quality Certificates”. They explain:
“Customers can instantly add standardized certificates of conformity (CoCs) and material certifications to meet enterprise purchasing requirements.”
This is a very interesting move by Fictiv, as it provides a means for clients to obtain certified quality parts. This is so distant from the early days when users of early manufacturing networks had no guarantees of quality other than examining the reviews for the supplier they were matched with. These features take Fictiv’s network far closer to what one expects to obtain from dedicated manufacturers.
It also could mean many more clients for Fictiv, as there will certainly be parts buyers that require these types of quality inspections and certificates. Without them they would not even consider Fictiv as an option. Fictiv just broadened their market.
For other manufacturing networks, this development will no doubt spur them to develop similar services in order to compete. Expect to see announcements through this year from others.
Meanwhile, Fictiv will be scooping up clients that might just stick with them, even after others launch their quality services.