How Online Videos Have Optimized Researching Manufacturing Equipment
Feb 28, 2017
Technology is developing at a rapid rate in the Life Science and Medical Industries. Processes that were once carried out by hand, or developed with slow and tedious technologies, are being replaced and improved with the spread of automation equipment. One of my jobs as a Process Engineer is to find and purchase new equipment to increase our current capabilities, bring in completely new capabilities, and replace old systems we have in place. But how do I narrow down the ever-growing list of machines and their specifications?
With the advent of the internet, equipment vendors from around the world are proving that their machinery can handle this development. There’s nothing that compares to seeing how a machine or tool works for myself, however resources available to do an in-person evaluation are limited and now I can do so from the comfort of my own desk by watching online videos and tutorials.
Traditionally, equipment sourcing and trialing was a long and complicated process. I would research companies by reading through catalogs, attending trade shows and talking to all the suppliers, or endlessly searching the internet where I would be reading through equipment specifications and hoping I would find a match. I would have to make a table comparing different specifications I thought were critical to the product I had in mind, and then start making phone calls.
These steps are an important part of the equipment sourcing procedure, but sometimes just a quick answer to the question “Will this machine work for us?” is all that is needed. This is something that is almost immediately apparent when I can see the equipment running. It used to be that I could only get that answer once the phone calls had been made, products and specifications discussed, and plane tickets were purchased. At that point, I had spent at least a month in the research phase with an idea of if what I was going to see demonstrated was what was going to work.
The Modern Era
When I learn about a new equipment supplier now, I immediately go to their website and look for their online demonstrations. Companies jump to the top of my list if they have videos of set-up, displays of the settings, running different materials or jobs, and any other capabilities on their website. If they don’t have anything, I will search online for videos and reviews posted by people who have purchased the equipment.
Having access to these videos helps me immediately eliminate options that will not work, and gives me the confidence to move forward with the equipment that may. This is especially beneficial for international suppliers, as the time and other resources needed to make a trip to see a live demonstration is usually scarce with my busy schedule. Companies that make their own online tutorials gain the advantage of controlling how their product is portrayed and showing off capabilities that other customers may not use in their video reviews.
The Driver's Seat
Another benefit to seeing the equipment run prior to a discussion is that I can drive the conversation in the direction that best suites our needs. Often a sales manager will want to direct the discussion to their newest piece of machinery, but there are many times when that type of capital expense falls beyond what is feasible for the project we are evaluating.
Being able to evaluate the machinery before a discussion also allows for a more efficient use of our meeting time. I am able to come prepared to the meeting with meaningful questions about its ability to integrate into our facility rather than basic questions about how the equipment operates. Having an impactful first meeting sets the tone of the partnership and allows us to reduce the time needed to qualify a supplier. In turn, this leads to a shorter overall selection, installation, and validation process of capital equipment.
Online tutorials and video demonstrations are changing the way people are purchasing machinery and tools. Being able to see right away how machinery is used and runs during the searching process helps customers reduce the time spent finding the perfect equipment, while providing working videos of equipment increases a manufacturer’s chance of making a sale.
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