“We have to learn to think in networks”

Orderfox was launched five years ago as a global platform for the CNC market. Since then, we have developed into an exclusive network for brokering production orders between buyers and manufacturers. Orderfox CEO Kaspar Helfrich, explains what added value the platform can offer manufacturing companies and buyers.

Orderfox caused quite a stir when it was launched at EMO 2017. How has your business developed since then?

Yes, it was a successful launch at the time. Working closely with our customers, manufacturers and buyers, we were able to gain a lot of new insights and continue to grow our business on that basis. More recently, we have given the company more energy and pinpoint focus with the change of CEO and corporate strategy.

You have positioned yourself as a global platform for the CNC market, connecting manufacturing companies and buyers, as well as the supplier industry to the sector. To what extent have you succeeded in this?

On the buyer side, we serve the high demands of the DACH region with contacts to excellent and selected manufacturers in Europe and Asia. With 73 % of the orders we handle, CNC certainly still plays the strongest role. However, sheet metal parts and more complex assemblies, but also plastic parts, are gaining in importance. We act as a partner to both the manufacturer and the buyer, and help to conclude deals quickly and in a goal-oriented manner.

We support the purchasing side with technical advice and manage the entire process from the RFQ description onwards. It is important that we issue the RFQ, including all drawings, anonymously. This protects the buyer from unnecessary spam. On the manufacturer’s side, we rely on precise matching so that unnecessary offers can be avoided.

According to the website, a high number of pavers are already registered with Orderfox. Can you say something about the regional distribution?

We clearly see the highest density of highly qualified companies registered with Orderfox in the DACH region, followed by Eastern Europe and Northern Italy. Outside of Europe, Turkey and India are experiencing strong growth. Orderfox reflects the distribution of manufacturing capacities of the regions.

What about the machine manufacturers? Which partners were you able to win here?

Here, too, we have been able to establish some successful long-term partnerships that are characterised by great mutual trust. We are constantly striving to build new partnerships and exploit possible synergies.

Online platforms increase comparability and thus competition. Can smaller traditional manufacturers insulate themselves from this, or are they under pressure to be present online as well?

The overwhelming majority of manufacturing companies in Europe are small and medium-sized enterprises. This comes from the natural growth of industry over the decades and contrasts with the corporate landscape of China, for example. In crises like the one we are currently experiencing, markets tend to over-advantage large market players. To protect Europe as a production location, we must learn to make intelligent use of Europe’s production capacities, which are spread across many small businesses. We must learn to think in networks. This is not about “online” or “offline”, but about the question of “together or alone”.

Has the interest in platforms like Orderfox increased due to the Corona crisis and disrupted supply chains?

This trend, the increase in disrupted supply chains, started before the pandemic. It has, of course, accelerated greatly during the Corona crisis. Market players are looking more than ever for solutions that help them find trustworthy manufacturers with whom they can implement their projects – on good terms, for the right price. But it’s not so easy when you have to switch to another manufacturer after a long trusting cooperation with one – especially for technically demanding products or certain rare materials. This is because production is usually based on a relationship of trust. So you can’t just change producers, you have to build a whole new relationship right away. This is where Orderfox helps: to support and push this building of new, alternative partnerships. Here, the demand has clearly increased. But Orderfox is more than a platform. It is a network that brings buyers and manufacturers together.

Will the focus remain on CNC manufacturing, or are other industries also conceivable?

We are oriented towards the customers’ manufacturing requirements, so there is indeed a focus on CNC projects. But already now our offers go far beyond CNC services. We also take care of projects in sheet metal processing such as laser and folded parts as well as welded constructions, but also in other technologies such as injection moulding and 3D printing.

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