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Five reasons to use local vendors for buying technical products

While there are many sources available for buying products, the local representative or vendor has some added benefits such as providing local technical support, education, and reduced shipping costs.

By Frank Lamb, Automation Primer January 18, 2017

In these days of online access to any product you can think of, it seems like the best option for buying technical products is to just find the best price and play vendors off against each other. And there’s also the allure of buying cheap items overseas or on Internet sites such as eBay. There are some positive benefits, particularly for used products, but there are five good reasons to establish a relationship with the local representative or vendor. 

1. Technical support. Some companies don’t realize that your vendor may be required by the manufacturer to hire specialist engineers with expertise in such areas as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), drive systems, and motion control. Some companies have vendors that operate within areas of primary responsibility (APRs), and they are not supposed to operate outside of their defined area, and must support products sold by their company, for free. This is at a pretty high expense to the vendor. 

2. Education. A lot of vendors do lunch and learns on their products for their customers. Representatives from the manufacturers bring their latest products and let you check them out and answer any questions you may have. Plus you get a free lunch out of it. Can’t beat that! They also often have training rooms at their facility where they do training courses.

3. Stocking programs. In these days of just in time (JIT) manufacturing, some manufacturers need to ensure that there is always enough of whatever component they need on the shelf. Companies often coordinate their production schedules with vendors to ensure that components are never more than an hour away, also reducing their own storage requirements.

4. Shipping costs/time. This one is easy. Of course it takes more time to ship products from places that aren’t local, especially from overseas. But it’s not as obvious that the shipping costs are already built into the pricing from the local vendor. When buying from outside area, there is not only the shipping cost from the manufacturer to the vendor, but also from the vendor to the buyer. Some local vendors run a truck around the area and deliver their products for no additional charge.

5. A friendly face. Sales people perform a valuable service in terms of offering advice and education on the product itself. When I had my own machine building company I also relied on their news about what local companies (potential customers) or even my competition was up to. 

Frank Lamb is the founder of Automation Consulting Services Inc. This article originally appeared on the Automation Primer blog. Automation Primer is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

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