Comparison Shopping

For products and services, our traditional print T&D World Buyers Guide has stood the test of time. But we wanted to make your specifying job a little easier by providing more functionality and detail.

THIS MONTH I AM GOING TO VEER OFF FROM MY USUAL COMMENTARY on whatever gets me excited or whatever makes my blood boil. We have just launched a new tool I'd like to introduce to you.

We have a very basic mission here at T&D World and that is to make your job easier by providing you with contacts, case studies and information. That's why we run articles written by engineers for engineers. Our job is to connect you with what you need to do your job better. And we know you come to T&D World for at least one of three things: products, services or information.

For products and services, our traditional print T&D World Buyers Guide has stood the test of time. But we wanted to make your specifying job a little easier by providing more functionality and detail. So, in addition to our print Buyers Guide, we have gone a step further to provide a free Internet-based tool that enables you to compare products from different suppliers. TDcompare is up and running, so go ahead and kick the tires at www.tdcompare.com. Yes, you might run into a few glitches as we work out any hidden bugs; however, you now have an additional resource to help you find what you need to do your job. Of course, the main feature is a product comparison tool, but other features in TDcompare let you request additional information from the supplier and, in some instances, even get quotes.

A LITTLE HISTORY IS IN ORDER

Early on, I talked with utility engineers, contractors, vendors and consultants to see if this idea might have wings, and their responses got me excited. Without exception, they said if we did it right, they'd use it. So, we hunted around and found a slick technology platform that allows for easy comparison shopping.

I brought in Paul Mauldin, a buddy I met back when he headed up major T&D research at Pacific Gas and Electric. Paul had left PG&E and was banging around as a consultant to utilities and manufacturers when I drafted him to the cause. I knew Paul to be a bit of a masochist and expected he would bite on the opportunity to track down and package the search details if it was sufficiently challenging and if it would meet a legitimate need.

Paul and I put together an early list of product categories. We knew we couldn't cover all possible products in our initial launch, so we poured through our T&D World Buyers Guide to make sure we had covered the categories that would be of most interest to most users. Paul also got his hands on standards and specification books from rural, city and investor-owned utilities. He spent countless hours on the phone with utility personnel to make sure we delivered what they wanted.

After we populated TDcompare, we called in Bill Herdegen, vice president of power delivery at Kansas City Power & Light, Jerry Borland, senior project manager at PAR Electric Contractors Inc., and Dick Erdel, advertising manager of Hubbell Inc., to see if they could poke holes in our product. They obliged, and we patched the holes they uncovered.

OWNERSHIP IS KEY

Of course, launching a product is one thing and maintaining it quite another. And no one supports a product more fervently than one whose sole livelihood depends on its success. And in this case, that person is Mr. TDcompare, Jay Thompson. As product manager, Jay will continue to connect with the vendor community as we work to add additional product and service category listings, while continuously updating existing information and fixing dead links. Of course, Paul and I are also here to support the product to make sure it has the functionality users want.

SO, WHAT DOES THIS RASCAL DO?

TDcompare allows you to sift through more than 12,500 detailed product listings from a list of more than 300 vendor categories. You can compare up to five products at a time with links that take you directly to suppliers' Web sites. We are also adding an industry news section and a white paper section, and we'll soon have helpful videos and articles posted as we build out our database of vendor-provided content. More product categories and site services will be added as we get feedback from users and develop additional vendor relationships.

TDCOMPARE IS NOW LIVE

So, with this bit of history, why don't you give the site a test ride at www.tdcompare.com. Do you have ideas on how to improve it? Contact Jay at [email protected]. You can also contact us directly from the site. We want to know what you think.

Rest assured, if online sourcing isn't your thing, you will receive your trusty T&D World Buyers Guide faithfully delivered to you poly-bagged with your September issue of T&D World just as it has been delivered for decades.

Em, send to Gabriel for review after you cleaned it up. mgabriel@rwbeck.com

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