Cobra Technologies designs and manufactures video pipeline inspection equipment, pipeline data collection and management software for sanitary and storm sewers. For nearly 20 years, Cobra inspection units have been sold to municipalities, contractors and government entities.
Finding qualified suppliers for custom parts and components, however, is often like playing a game of “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” for the Smyrna, GA-based company. In these economic times in particular, with many manufacturing companies having gone out of business, finding competent suppliers that have the right capabilities and capacity can be a difficult task.
There are a variety of ways companies have traditionally found suppliers, including online and offline directories, trade shows, search engines and advertisements. However, these methods of supplier discovery are fairly superficial, and it is difficult to find suppliers precisely matched to your needs that have capacity, at the exact moment you need them. It is also difficult to gain immediate visibility into references and pricing.
Previously, Cobra relied upon a small group of local suppliers that it had worked with in the past.
“We were looking to add to our supply base and ultimately find additional suppliers that made quality parts, at a lower cost while reducing our overall lead time,” notes Ken Hockstein.
Prior to MFG.com, Cobra Technologies used traditional methods of supplier discovery, and had little visibility into true market pricing. Additionally, its lead times were often as long as several months. Cobra Technologies was looking for a platform to source its new parts and components more efficiently.
“We had heard about MFG.com for several years,” Hockstein recalls. “Last year, we decided to just give it a try. We are thrilled with the results.”
Cobra Technologies has been using the MFG.com Basic Sourcing platform and Marketplace since April 2010. The Basic Sourcing platform includes all Starter edition features, such as Simple RFQ (Request for Quote), NDA and Sourcing Dashboard, but also incorporates Global Supplier Discovery, a Full-Audit Trail, Service and Support and Priority RFQ Release.
Cobra Technologies currently uses MFG.com for almost all new parts orders. After submitting an RFQ to the Marketplace, Cobra receives, on average, six to 10 qualified Supplier responses. From there, the sourcing platform makes it easy to compare quotes to baseline and target pricing. MFG.com supplier ratings and references are also reviewed to ensure a comprehensive due diligence process, and that work is awarded to the best supplier at the best possible price.
“Finding quality suppliers is very important to us, and we have found the MFG.com rating system very helpful,” Hockstein says. “When going through the sourcing process, we take a look at the supplier capabilities and equipment. Many times, with a new supplier, we will award them a small order for a simple part. If the work is performed to a high standard, we will award them larger, more complex work in the future.”
Through MFG.com, he continues, Cobra has been able to not only find suppliers who have consistently provided it with quality parts, but has also substantially improved its pricing and lead times.
“On individual parts, we have seen as much as 50% cost savings, and our lead time has gone from a few months to around three weeks,” he says.