Engineers can be hard to read when it comes to figuring which online tools and ecommerce features they want to help them do their jobs better.
Within many companies, engineers are several steps removed from the ecommerce process, mainly involved in designing and building products and services—not in making online purchases.
But engineers do have a need to be better integrated into the ecommerce channel, particularly in the design phase of a project.
And giving engineers better online access to product data—and ordering—is a primary reason Emerson Electric Co., a $17.40 billion manufacturer and distributor of engineering products, has launched a new digital portal for its $11.44 billion Emerson Automation Solution division. Emerson’s product lines include instruments for controlling air and water pressure and for managing electric power supplies for a wide range of industrial, commercial, and consumer markets.
MyEmerson portal launches for engineers
The new portal—MyEmerson, a part of Emerson.com—launched in September with the aim of giving engineers and engineering support teams access to digital content, planning tools and ecommerce features that speed up engineering design and collaboration. MyEmerson runs on WebSphere technology from HCL Technologies, which acquired the ecommerce technology and related products from IBM Corp. in December. (HCL has since renamed WebSphere as HCL Commerce.).
MyEmerson is part of a broader digital makeover strategy for Emerson, and the new portal has the potential to configure product instrumentation up to 93% faster, typically saving over 100 engineering hours annually, Emerson says. With a MyEmerson account, users can access digital tools to research and engineer answers to production questions, manage software and installed assets, access training opportunities, collaborate with experts, streamline procurement processes and improve visibility into buying history and trends, says Brad Budde, vice president of digital customer experience for Emerson Automation Solutions.
For example, using an offline configuration approach, engineers would use a product data sheet, manually selecting the options from the order table to create the model code, Emerson says. This usually takes around 15 minutes per device—and often does not result in an accurate model code. But engineers can use an online visual configurator to generate the model code with much higher accuracy in about a minute, Budde says.
Addressing engineers’ digital expectations
“Driven by our personal interaction with digital technology, customers have new expectations today about speed and access to information,” he says. “Our customers still want access to human expertise, but now expect a great digital experience as well—combining these two experiences to deliver information immediately and use it to solve problems faster is what drives new business value.”
On MyEmerson, engineers can use digital sizing, selection and configuration tools for valves, actuators, fluid control, pneumatic, electrical and other products and instruments, the company says.
Other tools enable engineers to create a valid product configuration, generate required documentation or calculate a return on investment based on computer-aided design (CAD) drawings and diagrams.
More efficient procurement
For engineering support teams and procurement directors, there are tools and features that let users create requisition lists, generate quotes, and automatically populate purchase orders. Other features let users view order status, order history, quotes, and purchase orders. “With greater visibility to order status and order history, procurement teams have access to the information they need to drive more efficient processes,” Emerson says.
Currently, Emerson has about 10,000 SKUs available for purchase on MyEmerson, and users can purchase and pay electronically through a variety of channels, including ecommerce, electronic data interchange and e-procurement. Emerson doesn’t break out web sales, but over time expects to attract a substantial user base among engineers, purchasing managers and engineering support personnel.
“We expect many (users) to register since we serve thousands of customers around the world in a diverse set of industrial businesses,” Budde says. “The biggest challenge is change management. As we hear across the industry, it’s less the technology that is the hurdle—it’s driving the adoption to embrace and realize the benefits of a new approach.”
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