Switch manufacturers are stepping into the digital supply chain to make it easier and faster for designers and purchasers to search for parts and product information. These new digital initiatives centered on website functionality and interactive tools are all about sharing data with customers to help them select and buy components when they need them. They also are designed to help customers from the design phase through to fulfillment.
The new digital overhauls include the addition of online component catalogs, parametric searches, data downloads (product briefs, datasheets and 3D drawings), ordering samples, and checking stock. While not all interconnect, passive and electromechanical (IP&E) device manufacturers have fully embraced digital transformation, many are finding the need to dip their toes in the digital waters if they want to continue to remain relevant and grow sales and profitability.
A few examples of the most recent entrants include switch manufacturers C&K Components, EAO and NKK Switches, all focused on providing improved purchasing and technical information, including downloadable 3D drawings, which help their customers make buying decisions faster.
For example, NKK Switches recently launched a new website with an interactive online 3D catalog and downloadable 3D datasheets, designed by CADENAS PARTsolutions. The enhanced website allows users to design and download custom NKK parts that include full design specs from an online 3D CAD catalog. The service provides more than 500,000 3D CAD switch models, including NKK’s programmable OLED and LCD switches and displays.
"Showcasing the 3D Parts Catalog was a big catalyst for many of these changes," said Jessica Reimann, marketing manager at NKK, in a statement. "CAD solutions are integrated into many of the improvements, and each specific product is now available as a 2D/3D CAD drawing or PDF data sheet."
The downloadable 3D PDF datasheets that show specific customized product configurations within a catalog style page are a unique component of the new website, said NKK Switches. “Customers can use the product configurator to download custom datasheets of their configured products that contain detailed specifications, product attributes, and an embedded 3D model needing no CAD system required to review.”
"The 3D Data Sheets are going to be the last word in design convenience," said Rob Zesch, president and COO of CADENAS PARTsolutions, in a statement. "Created specifically for engineers to share with their purchasing department. These dynamic 3D PDF data sheets will provide the capability for users without CAD access to preview products from any angle, while also providing all of the necessary textual data and product specifications. These forward-thinking additions will firmly establish NKK as the market leader in miniature and illuminated switches."
The customization options that allow designers to visualize how the switches fit into their designs is enhanced by other website updates. These include a wider display area and intuitive links to key resources. One example is the online switch library and configurator embedded on individual product pages.
"The simplified navigation and catalog access makes it easier for engineers and designers to access the digital data they need more quickly, and with a higher level of detail than ever before," Reimann said. "This new platform enables design engineers to explore the endless functions of our switches in a whole new way."
Similarly, C&K Components has streamlined the way that customers search and access product data at its website. The switch manufacturer recently redesigned its website to make it easier for designers and purchasers to search for parts and download product information. The new website offers a new parametric search on the homepage and several different ways to navigate the site. “We have five different ways to navigate at the site whether you’re new to switches or seasoned or in procurement,” said C&K.
Users can search by a product’s top five attributes (rating, circuit, mounting type, sealing and illumination) by switch type, delivering a configurator for the product family that enables side-by-side comparisons. A dedicated market section features application specific solutions. Designers also have direct access (links) to 3D drawings, datasheets, flyers, check stock, request free samples and other product information.
For purchasers, C&K also added photos on the homepage so they can quickly identify the right type of switch to purchase.
Also focused on helping customers find the right product for the application is EAO. The human machine interface (HMI) specialist recently introduced the Series 45 complete product selector. The interactive tool is designed to make it easier for customers to select the right product in the series. It includes a new streamlined interactive 3D viewer and a library of online tools.
“The components industry is shifting towards internet-based customer interaction creating a clear demand for manufacturers and suppliers to create intuitive and innovative ways to satisfy these consumers,” EAO stated. “The Series 45 Complete Product Selector enables seamless customer interaction from the product design phase through the fulfilment process.”
The new product selector will deliver to the customer options to parametrically search completely configured kits with single part numbers; view product images and dimensional drawings; insert and download 3D files, and provide information on available inventory and where to purchase.