Modern Tech Lacking In Job Shops
December 21, 2022
2022 Custom Part Buyer Report reveals that industrial buyers are under greater
pressure today than they were when surveyed in 2020, indicating a need for job
shops and contract manufacturers to modernize in order to keep up with
heightened demands for speed and transparency.
The survey of more than 600 manufacturing professionals in the U.S., consisting
of part buyers and engineers working with procurement, highlighted the
challenges many manufacturers faced over the last two years. In addition to
supply chain issues (84% of survey respondents report experiencing a supply
chain issue in the last two years), skyrocketing material costs, and an
uncertain economic climate, manufacturers have been struggling with a labor
shortage: the workforce shrunk significantly in 2021 as the manufacturing
industry saw quit rates increase by over 50%.
These recent headwinds, combined with a generational shift as baby boomers are
retiring at a rapid pace, has led the current class of more digitally-savvy
buyers to lean heavily on technology to streamline their buying process and fill
the skills gap.
Industrial part buyers are now quick to go to market when their suppliers come
up short: in 2020, only 54% of survey respondents noted that they turned to new
vendors when their current ones failed to deliver. This year, it was 85%.
With the knowledge that buyers are getting younger, relying more on technology,
and going to market more often, contract manufacturers can better cater to their
customers’ needs. Building stronger customer relationships will be more
important than ever, as buyers’ reliance on referrals as a way to seek out new
business jumped 17% in the past two years (the bump may indicate that in
uncertain times, buyers want vetted, reliable suppliers that come highly
Additional key findings include:
The top three ways part buyers find new vendors are: Google/internet search
(64%), referrals (63%), and trade publications (31%).
Survey respondents look to a shop’s capabilities (69%) and quality
certifications (54%) as signs that the shop will be able to complete their
53% report that a shop’s technology often or always impacts their experience.
94% of part buyers report that they’ve tried out at least one new vendor in the
last 12 months, indicating that job shops that can respond quickly and fulfill
orders on time have an opportunity to get a foot in the door with brand new
47% of respondents said that the speed of response directly impacts their
decision to work with a shop.
In order to meet buyers’ need for speed and nurture strong customer
relationships, the report suggests some key takeaways for job shops:
that incorporate modern technology can set themselves up to expand their
customer base and increase profitability, now and for years to come.
Shops also need to be visible, communicative, and efficient, and implementing
digital tools such as quoting systems, ERP platforms, and more can help provide
a modern, secure, and seamless purchasing experience.
Buyers are willing to consider new suppliers more often than in the past, so the
new RFQs that come in are likely not just exploratory, they are actually worth
quoting and quoting in a timely fashion.
“Manufacturing has been and will always be a relationship-driven industry.
Technology can enhance business—making it easier to quote or faster to
design—but it will never replace the hands-on approach that job shops need,”
said Jason Ray, Co-Founder and CEO of Paperless Parts. “These survey findings