Former SpaceX Employees Officially Launch Supply Chain Optimization Operations
Datum announced it started operations in managing supply chain and logistics issues for manufacturing industries.
SpaceX and the Supply Chain
As one of only a few space exploration companies, SpaceX requires custom components that can’t be sourced at the local hardware store or easily fabricated in-house. Specialized components may only be needed in low quantities, meaning in-house machinists would have to gain high levels of skill for a short time, and all on expensive equipment that may not see much use.
To reduce the costs, SpaceX outsourced new designs and custom components to various machining and fabrication houses. Outsourcing the manufacturing of these components led to numerous problems, including quality control, potential trade secret leaks, long lead times, highly variable costs, and more.
Datum’s Impact on the Supply Chain
Based on these frustrating experiences, three former SpaceX employees with expertise in supply chains formed Datum to remove some guesswork from requesting specialized parts. CEO Robert Pakalski, COO Thomas Cobb, and Chief Supply Chain Officer Ryan Nagle have developed a new system to remove some of the inefficiencies of the manufacturing supply chain.
The Datum logo. Image used courtesy of Datum
In a recent press release, Pakalski said, “Rapid product development requires methodical supplier identification, secure communication, efficient quoting, and diligent project management - all of which are imperative for sustainable business operations.”
Datum has secured 1 million USD in pre-seed funds and is in the process of raising another 5 million, according to the press release.
One of their two main products is a software as a service (SaaS) platform that analyzes computer-aided drafting (CAD) designs, then locates the optimal providers for this part. Providers are chosen based on their capabilities and equipment, lead times, cost, and other relevant supply chain criteria.
Once the customer is matched to a machine shop that can perform the fabrication, the design is securely transmitted to the machine shop. Currently, this platform is geared toward computer numerical control (CNC) machining centers, but Datum intends to expand and include all vertical manufacturing centers.
CNC machines are heavily used in aerospace, automotive, and other industries utilizing metal.
The other main product offered by Datum is their Managed Services division. With this product, Datum can outsource all aspects of the procurement process. The Managed Services division is especially useful for finding the best place for more complex parts, such as electric motors, fasteners, batteries, raw materials, and other products that are incredibly difficult to vertically integrate into an existing manufacturing outfit.
Datum’s SaaS platform has the potential to shave time, cost, and headache from sourcing CNC machined parts. Because the platform can analyze machining capability without the need for the machine shop to see the design, trade secrets are protected until it is time to perform the fabrication.
This is a tremendous advantage over soliciting machine shops with copies of the design until one shop is chosen. Whether it is parts for the commercial space race or manufacturing the next smallest semiconductor chip, the data security and optimization offered could bring innovation to reality without unnecessary supply chain delays.