Manufacturing OEMs and end users think similarly about how to improve their relationship, according to a new study conducted in early 2004 by Rockwell Automation and Penton Media, Inc.
Based on interviews with 582 OEMs and end users, the study compared the views of these two groups on important relationship issues, including design cycle responsibilities, buying behaviors and communication channels. The study revealed several areas of common ground, such as the industry knowledge of OEMs. For example, 85.3 percent of end users and 86.3 percent of OEMs believe that OEMs are a primary source of good industry trend advice.
The most divergent responses pertained to questions about procurement costs. For example, 94.9 percent of OEM respondents believe that end users tend to choose machines and components based on lowest procurement cost, while only 78 percent of end users agreed with this statement.
Sample findings from survey
Percent of respondents who answered "always," "usually" or "sometimes"
How often should OEMs be involved early in the design cycle?
End users, 83.7%
How often are OEMs a primary source of industry trend advice?
End users, 85.3%
How often do OEMs choose controls for the machine or application?
End users, 91.5%
What is the tendency to choose machines/components based on lowest procurement costs?
End users, 78.0%
After the initial purchase/installation, what is the tendency to maintain the business relationship?
End users, 95.1%
The study suggests that OEMs and end users can improve their relationships by having better channels of communication, getting OEMs involved earlier in the design cycle and providing more customer support. The top comment, however, (made by more than one-third of OEMs and end users) suggested that having a better understanding of the design specifications is key to enhancing the business relationship.
"It's difficult to stay on top of all the new technology, regional and global standards, industry regulations, company-specific requirements and other manufacturing considerations," said Doug Burns, global OEM business development director, Rockwell Automation. "OEMs and end users need a methodology for developing and building to a specification, so that everyone is on the same page and moving in the right direction."
To help OEMs and end users better understand specifications and the design process, Rockwell Automation created Power Programming, a free online toolkit that provides an integrated, modular approach to application development. Power Programming supplies a pre-made specification template, HMI templates and pre-written basic programs. It is designed around current, open standards and guidelines, allowing OEMs to more efficiently design machines that are easy to use, modify, integrate and maintain. To obtain a copy, go to www.ab.com/powerprogramming.