The typical manufacturing company provides support services and parts for an average of more than 7 years after the initial product sale. Aftermarket service and parts account for 20-30% of revenues and about 40% of profits for most manufacturers. The key to maintaining profits and happy customers, lies within their aftermarket spare part business.

Most companies run their service parts operations using traditional ERP systems, however with lack of visibility into service parts and inventory levels, it is difficult to efficiently and effectively manage demand at any given time. Not to mention the gaps in the exchange of data and inability to reuse service parts inventory is caused by disparity in system configurations. Meaning incompatible systems such as ERP and WMS (warehouse management systems) to TMS (transportation management systems) are unable to aggregate and exchange data efficiently. All of which is required for effective planning and parts management.

Additionally, inconsistent naming conventions and fragmented automation of spare parts management operations across the service life cycle causes even more inefficiencies. All of which can leave Manufacturers with excess inventory, high expediting costs, longer repair cycles and inconsistent performance from various third-party replacement parts.

With challenges in forecasting demand and planning stock levels, how do Manufacturers accurately plan inventory and spare parts in a cost effective and efficient manner to support the post-sale services as well as customer’s needs when it comes to aftermarket spare parts? The traditional solution to spare part identification and ordering was to provide online exploded view diagram PDF file along with a phone number to reach the sales department. Customers would then call the sales department to confirm part names, part numbers, availability, pricing, or comb through their previous order history to identify their needed spare parts. All of which slows down the entire sales process causing inefficiencies with zero visibility into future order needs and unhappy customers.

Innovative Industrial Manufacturers are realizing measurable ROI by implementing a digital commerce strategy combined with 2D/3D online spare part catalogs. Their online spare part solution often includes keyword search, parametric search, images with hotspots, 3D animations, interactive 3D visualization, and of course online shopping. By providing this complete solution customers can efficiently plan and order spare parts. Keyword search with digital imagery removes additional opportunity for user error by creating a more efficient part identification and order experience. Traditional aftermarket spare part identification and ordering inefficiencies can be further addressed by integrating 2D and 3D visualization into an Industrial Manufacturer’s existing Digital Commerce or CPQ platform.

Finding aftermarket spare parts or replacement parts can often be a hassle, even for the simplest of products. Calling technical support to decipher exactly what widget is needed by a customer can be next to impossible without having the unique SKU or Part Number available. Using a 2D exploded view diagram with hotspots can be handy for selecting the sub-assemblies from the top-level assembly to find a specific replacement part. The 2D hotspot diagram is used to uniquely identify or describe the sub assembly with call outs that are visible by hovering over or click a specific part or sub assembly. These hotspots display pop-up windows or trigger animations and can contain text or additional information regarding the sub assembly or part. Using hotspots improves overall user experience and includes the exploded view of that sub assembly, enabling a BOM to be clearly communicated. This creates a much more efficient way for customers to find a Spare Part or replacement part.

Oftentimes, 2D hotspots may not be enough when it comes to more complex sub-assemblies and configurations. A 3D viewer can provide access to not only find the appropriate part, but also show how it is assembled within the sub assembly. The 3D exploded viewer also shows the relationship or order of assembly of various parts, down to the smallest of components, suspending them away from the sub assembly, as if there had been a small explosion. This allows customers the ability to see how all parts of the sub assembly fit together, often with hotspots identifying parts, descriptions or part ID numbers which can be used to plug into a Digital Commerce solution. Additionally, 3D viewers empower customers with the ability to explore additional details and complexities of a product dynamically. By doing so, customers can have the ability to view additional attributes as well as sub assembly animations. 3D viewers can not only increase conversions by up to 40%, but also decrease returns by as much as 50%. Including a 3D viewer for your customers creates more efficiencies within your ecommerce platform, helps to increase overall sales, and make for happy customers.

You need to ‘fish where the fish are’ and that’s online, where customers are searching for the parts or components they need.

Here are the steps you need to take to do so – you may have done some of them already:

1. A website containing all your product or part data – probably in the form of a searchable digital catalog or alternatively in the form of a product configurator. More > How to Add 2D and 3D CAD to your Product Configurator

2. Each part detail page or configured product needs to include visuals (pictures and/or viewable CAD models and drawings) – do you already have CAD files of all your parts/products or a configurator that generates them? More > For Downloadable CAD do CAD Formats Matter?

3. Build your own or choose a 3rd party CAD download solution that integrates into your website and/or configurator – More > 10 Questions to Ask Before Selecting an Online CAD Solution

4. If you have a configurator or CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) solution choose a 3rd party CAD download solution that integrates with it – More > 10 Questions to Ask Before Selecting an Online Configurator Solution

More > CAD Marketing – Get the FAQs


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About the Author: CDS Visual

CDS Visual is helping lead the digital business revolution for industries all over the world. Whether you’re an OEM or parts distributor, we will help you convert prospects into buyers – while reducing engineering costs.

Turn ordinary CAD drawings into dynamic 3D product experiences that captivate and engage your audience.


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