FEATURE
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Missing out the middle man

Stuart Schoenmann, CEO of CVI Melles Griot, says there are plenty of benefits of working directly with photonics manufacturers

Now that we are well into 2010, the optics and photonics industry understands that economic recovery from the 2009 crash will be slow and hopefully steady. Consumers are savvier than ever and will make shrewd decisions on who will supply their optics and photonics products. Developing a relationship directly with an optics and photonic products manufacturer can be beneficial not only to your bottom line, but also save your organisation valuable time, resources, and headaches.

Custom solutions

The primary concern of most end users is whether the product will meet their needs. Most optics and photonic products manufacturers offer a wide range of custom to semi-custom solutions to meet the specific requirements of their customers. The best manufacturers will provide the optimal solution for a customer in a time- and cost-efficient manner. For example, CVI Melles Griot offers a service known as ‘Build Your Own’, providing our customers with any size, any wavelength, at a catalogue price, and shipped within 14 days or less. How do customers determine the best product for their application, and if it is a standard, semicustom, or custom solution? This question brings us to the next part of the complete solution provided by many manufacturers – strong technical support.

Technical support

The world of optics and photonic products can be confusing, especially to new customers that may not know how to choose the best and most cost-efficient product for their application. Most manufacturers maintain an experienced staff of applications engineers and customer service representatives on hand to help customers determine the best solution for their application, and to answer questions about all products and services offered. Manufacturers are intimately knowledgeable about the parts and services they offer to their end users, and can pass that knowledge on to their customers.

Web-based sales and applications

Every year, the popularity of online sales and sales quotations increases. Many optics and photonics manufacturers have stepped up to this virtual challenge by offering web-based tools, such as selection guides, parametric search, document and drawing downloads, and web-based quotations. These tools make it easier for both buyers and end users to find the information they need online easily.

Inventory

Another way that buying directly from manufacturers can reduce operation cost is by managing inventory. Most manufacturers not only maintain a constant inventory of standard products on their shelves, but will also cooperate with customers to schedule inventory releases of blanket orders that can be shipped on an as-needed basis for the customer. This keeps the customer from having to keep a large supply of costly inventory on their shelves, a risk that most distributors just will not take.

Improved lead times and global manufacturing

Today’s global manufacturers have the ability to move work depending on capacity and demand, so your parts can move from design, manufacturing, and assembly when and where you need them. Global manufacturers also have greater leverage with raw material vendors that can decrease costs and lead times for the end customer.

Supply chain management

Supply chain management is a term that is tossed around rather freely today, but what does it actually mean, and what value can it provide a customer? Supply chain management refers to the process of sourcing raw materials and components for the manufacture of final products. Manufacturers have the ability to easily track the progress of any given component from raw material to finished component, adding value by increasing quality, flexibility and customisation options, and ultimately saving the end customer valuable time and resources.

Optics and photonics customers are experienced, well-educated, and are not easily swayed. If customers look closely at the added value of purchasing directly from global manufacturers, they may find the solutions that they seek and the partners that they need. Whether customers are looking for the best quality, the most cost-efficient solution, the shortest lead times, simple online quotations or valuable technical support, customers are sure to find a solution in the expertise of a global manufacturing partner.