e-Catalysts, Inc. officially launched its B2B digital marketplace
for raw material suppliers, manufacturers, buyers, and logistics providers
centered on the $10 billion catalyst industry. Equity partners VerticalNet,
Inc., W. R. Grace & Co., and Aspen Technology, Inc.
announced the new venture in October, inviting trading partners in the
refining, petrochemical, chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries
phase of the e-Catalysts.com launch includes content and community features
from VerticalNet Solutions' eMarketplace Suite, which is
a key component of the marketplace. Visitors to e-Catalysts.com are now
able to obtain industry-specific information about products and services,
news and analysis and a host of professional resources.
releases will include a searchable "expert-system" database, allowing
purchasers to find product information, identify suppliers, and make buying
decisions. In addition, private marketplace features will be added to
allow participating companies to conduct secure business transactions
and exchange technical/product information with suppliers and customers.
Supply-chain optimization capabilities for collaborative planning and
scheduling, and engineering tools for catalyst research, development and
performance monitoring will arrive in future releases.
proud to bring live e-Catalysts.com to members of the catalyst industry,"
said Dwayne Spradlin, board member for e-Catalysts, Inc. "With its launch,
this important site and cutting edge technology will enable industry participants
to make more informed buying decisions, and in the future will reflect
commerce mechanisms for improving customer relationship management and
many other vertical marketplaces that promise reduced costs and improved
efficiency through B2B collaboration, e-Catalysts.com holds great potential.
In contrast to most of these marketplaces, which focus primarily on discrete
parts transactions, e-Catalysts.com faces some formidable challenges inherent
in the catalyst industry. Catalysts are pill-sized particles used in vast
quantities by petroleum refiners to spark critical chemical reactions
in their manufacturing processes.
manufacturing processes are as complex as those employed to make catalysts,
characterized by insiders as a blend of science and art. As a process
industry, catalyst manufacturing involves all the usual steps such as
chemical reactions, multi-phase material transport, solids mixing, and
carefully controlled high-temperature drying operations that define the
properties of the finished catalyst. Furthermore, catalysts require select
grades of raw materials produced within strict tolerances and minimum
levels of impurities. These raw materials include precious metals that
are purchased at negotiated prices from a small number of trusted suppliers.
Thus, catalyst manufacturing is a difficult enterprise requiring considerable
investment of time and expertise by the people involved.
a vehicle for facilitating supplier selection, exchanging industry-relevant
information, and communicating general needs among participants, e-Catalysts.com
can provide value immediately. Supply chain optimization, collaboration
among trading partners, and maintenance of private supplier/buyer relationships
will be far more difficult for e-Catalysts.com to deliver.
In spite of the fanfare, catalyst industry players will find limited services
available through e-Catalyst.com at present. In addition, the dreary market
conditions that have greeted B2B startups over the past several months
may cause one to doubt the venture's prospects for survival. The risks
aside, e-Catalyst.com has at least two factors in its favor. Backing from
Grace and Aspentech, two strong established companies in the catalyst
and supply chain management software industries, gives e-Catalysts.com
the secure financial foothold that few Internet-only exchanges ever achieve.
e-Catalysts.com also benefits from being the first conspicuous digital
marketplace for the catalyst industry, which makes it the pioneer in the
minds of companies looking to join.