While researching another story, I came across MFG.COM and realized right away it was the connector between buyers and suppliers that was predicted in our earlier article from 2006, build your own virtual motorcycle company. At the time, Jeff Bezos of Amazon was promoting the idea of using resources and capabilities from others on an as needed basis, taking your idea and hiring resources from other companies to provide what you need, even making parts. The more work you can hire out, the closer you get to virtual production. The process was being done at the time by a few forward thinking companies but it was a little cumbersome with a lot of “figure it out on the fly” involved. Things have changed, a lot.
Using overcapacity or idle capacity from other companies is not a new idea and it’s always an option when you’re looking to build something, the business with underutilized machinery and skilled employees needs the work, the builder needs the parts. Motus American Motorcycles, the new company started by Brian Case and Lee Conn, is a perfect example:
When companies and manufacturers are doing their best to retain the highly trained and expert designers and engineers they have on staff, they are willing to take on smaller projects they might not find room for in a booming economy. The now available expertise meshes perfectly with the needs of a new company like Motus and projects can now be completed for far less than would have been the case in better times.
Jeff Bezos wanted to simplify the process and he was doing more than just talking about the idea when he first presented it back in 2006, he’s a big investor in MFG.com and, no doubt, the operation runs on Amazon servers. If you’re thinking about building something, you have to check this out.
You can sign up on the site as a buyer or supplier. For buyers, the site is free, you sign up, explain what you need it detail and the suppliers bid on the job. Suppliers sign up for a flat fee and are able to bid on the work. Instead of trying to find someone to do the work, you have companies all over the world bidding on your job. If you want to bid only locally, you can do that, or globally, you can do that, too. You choose from a much bigger pool of available companies no matter how you decide to source your parts. Cool.
The available categories of work are huge and lots of major companies use the site to find what they need, I notice Harley Davidson is among them. Virtual production might also have helped prevent this.
So, there you are, trying to start your new company, great idea, CAD drawings ready, but who has the money and who wants to invest in a new production facility in this economy? Well, now you don’t have to. Virtual production can make the parts, reduce your costs, reduce your startup time, … the rest is up to you. Just one more reason to do it now. I keep saying, this recession can be an opportunity and here’s another way to take advantage of the slowdown. I like it!