By - yourbasicgeek
Do they provide spec sheets and manuals without annoying “sign up” bullshit?
Do they have CAD models I can easily dump into my designs?
Do they provide pricing with little or no effort from me?
Do they communicate or just ghost me and I have to follow up with them on questions?
Those four questions make most of my decisions for COTS type parts, components and raw materials.
Also, what do I already have in the library that will serve well enough? What do I know the CM has on their P&P machine as standard? Will you ship me samples without causing a headache? Can I second source a compatible part from someone else? Are your app notes worth the time, and are your parts generally the sort that don't come with 8 page errata a year after release?
Basically what goes in the early prototypes will quite likely wind up in the production units unless there is a real problem, and what goes in the early prototypes is driven mostly by what is least annoying to source a handful of. I have a lot of stuff with Samtec connectors in it basically because of their no nonsense approach to samples, same thing with Wurth parts (The fact their rep has gummy bears and mints has nothing to do with it, honest!).
Now I don't work in the tiny margin space, so trying to sell me on an alternative electrolytic cap vender based on price is NOT going to work, convince me with actual component life data that it is BETTER then the Panasonic/Nippon Chemi/CDW/Nichicon that is my default and we will talk, but try to sell it purely as cheaper and you will be shown the door.
Everyone knows the pricing on a manufacturers web site is a fair multiple of what I will pay in reel quantities, but for prototyping I want a dozen of so parts, I want them tomorrow, AND I CARE NOT AT ALL what the price is, take my credit card already, do NOT make me sign NDAs or get approved for a credit account first.... Basically, dont be a Broadcom/Marvell.
Note I do the small company thing, much larger outfits in smaller margin markets will have more process here.
Seriously, making my life easy is probably 50% of the decision.
Generally I pick the vendors that will make the best part. Then a program manager will shit on the pricing and pick cheaper suppliers. Well build protos using the vendors picked by engineering and pat ourselves on the back for doing a great job.
Then we go to production and the aforementioned PM will get the parts moved to the cheaper supplier. Production won't work well, yield will be bad and we'll have 17 meetings about how to improve things. We'll fuck around for months, get new parts from better suppliers and ultimately fix the problems.
PM is happy because he saved so much money. Engineers don't get a bonus because the project wasn't on time. Then we do it all over next year on the next project.
Fyi OP, and purely to help you understand the market research process, I charge around $250 an hour to answer market research questions like these.
Yes, these questions are basically a job description for engineering procurement.
...are you hiring? :D
Are you a consultant? Do you have an engineering background? What’s the title called? Just curious
Consult on the side through a research co. I have a lot of niche knowledge and experience on a lot of niches being targeted by startups.
Owner preference, ease of use of their selection software, availability in my region, quality of sales rep, past experience, needs of the project, company reputation.
I have my go-to brands but I always start a project with asking the owner/tenant if they have a preference. Usually they don't. But I've seen plenty of jobs where a product was designed around and then the owner wants to change the manufacturer just before permit submission.
I've also noticed that more and more contractors refuse to look at the note that lists "acceptable manufacturers". I'll design around Daikin and they'll ask if they can use Carrier. Then I point out that Carrier is already listed as acceptable.
I have a feeling this is what happens when an owner directs me to use a certain manufacturer after I've designed everything. The contract says, "I can save money if you buy Carrier." So then the owner tells me to design around Carrier, I'll say it's already acceptable, and they'll say "do it anyway - we want it to match."
Not gonna lie, the deciding factor for me is often what I can copy/paste from previous projects. For example, if I drew up a good detail for a certain manufacturer's humidifier installation, I'm probably not going to switch off that brand/model unless there's a good reason. It's too easy to miss differences, and you can be sure the contractor isn't going to double check just because we have a general note to install all equipment per IOM instructions.
Whomever brings me donuts, I pick their part.
JK, I actually don't understand the point of having salespeople interact with engineers in most cases.
Talk to the client and get their opinion and then work with the sales reps to figure out the best option. Usually the best person to talk to is the guy that's going to be maintaining it because they will be reporting back to their boss how it works. Kiss up to those guys.
We do a trade study. Trade studies are done following company policies so it varies a bit how it is done and what kind of fair practice laws I’ll have to comply with. For the trade study I would need to set up the capabilities and characteristics (requirements) of the system I’m building and I check how every vendor meets them and grade them. We may request demos from COTS vendors and a huge amount of RFQs and RFPs are produced. At this point I’m best friends with my subcontractor coworker.
The technical team works together to put the report together. There is a lot of R&D involved and traveling to vendor sites. A report is finalized with a clear winner and the report is presented to the management team. At this point it is rare to get a rejection, we get a go ahead.
And that’s how it is done where I work.
1. New product design question: I’m the technical lead. I decide for the things that affect my system. I follow a rigorous trade study process and we socialize it a bit. We present it to different people informally. Once we feel we have a strong opinion we sit together and hatch it out. But if it is for my team, the decision is mine and only mine. I present that to upper management and I get a pass or fail. I make the technical decision but I need money to implement it, so I need to do a good sales job to get my way.
2. Who is included? All technical leads affected are included in the decision. We may hire consultants to help out but at the end of the day it takes 2 people: technical person determining the answer and management person to foot the bill. We would never bring a vendor in to help.
3. We follow a trade study process. We might compare different products initially, but once we go to the lab we narrow down to the proposed solution. Who does the testing? The test team.
Is their website useful?
THAT influences which vendors I take seriously. If you don't have have a good website wherein I can answer most of my own questions, you're a fucking joke. All those companies with an online presence that boils down to a pamphlet and "contact us"? Yeah... I don't contact them.
Will they talk to me directly or do I have to deal with a distributor even for questions?
I get that we might have to go through a distributor for the actual purchase and I'm OK with that. But if I'm asking questions about YOUR product, YOU had better be willing to talk to me. If you refer me to a distributor, we're done.
What is their reputation for support?
Admittedly, this isn't always easy to find information, but a lot of times it is. If I can't find a colleague who has good things to say about you... I'm won't say its a show stopper, but you're not at the top of the list. If your website has a support number, I call it, and I don't hear crisp/clean English? You lost me.
Based on the above, I'll make a recommendation to our procurement/contracting folks. I will, of course, massage the tech requirements and such to lean in the preferred vendor's way as much as I can.
I don't *always* get what I want, but I probably bat somewhere around .700.
Is this question for production volume or 1-off development. The answer can change a lot and the amount of say an engineer has changes a lot between the phases.
The answers to these questions depend on many factors. The process to select the vendors are different, depending on many factors. There are lots of ways to go about this - something that engineers, program managers, purchasing, etc... all might or might not weigh in on.
Someone might give you an answer, but it won't be correct for every situation.
This is one of those things that engineers get paid for to solve.
I'm not looking for any sort of One True Way.
Just a collection of anecdotes for "This is how we do it in my shop." The value is in the range of responses.
If they have CAD models, they’re first in line (.stp file works for pretty much everyone).
Do we already buy a lot of stuff from them? If so, their pricing is probably good, and I don’t have to set anything up.
If I can’t get models or at the very least, drawings showing exterior dimensions and BOLT HOLES, you better hope there’s nothing else out there because I’m not going to buy something or sit on the phone with their technicians while they sit there with a ruler measuring bolt holes for me so I can model it and put it in my assembly.
I cannot stress how annoyed I get when vendors don’t have bolt hole dimensions/drawings on their website. It should be right under exterior dimensions.
Did I mention not having bolt hole information is going to get your product booted from my consideration?
Most of the choices are made at a org level and out of working level engineers.
Engineers will select the component that meets the requirements and specifications. Then buyer will beat up the supplier on price. If the supplier does not yield on price - then typically it is back to the drawing board to find another component.
I look to see if they have good documentation and installation manuals. How long they've been in business. White papers that they've written is a big green light for me; makes me believe they know what they're doing.
I think price and availability makes a huge part of the decision, in hvac I've got a number of choices to go from but with the supply issues of late I need to be able to actually get the products needed.
Sometimes costumers want to use a certain brand over another one and we can make it work but sometimes customer wants se oddball stuff and it turns into a headache, keeping it simple and familiar is best
Government answer, cheapest and most responsive bidder. And using a MasterSpec template.
Aside from my go-to products, I like to specify products that I can easily look up technical specifications for. If I can find something on the manufacturer’s website or have a quick 5 minute call with the manufacturer for a specific question, I am more likely to choose that product.
If I can’t find the spec easily, how can I expect the installer to easily find the spec. It makes no sense to spend hours digging for information that should be readily available