ThomasNet ( has introduced new time-saving features to help speed the research process for its site's users--purchasers of industrial parts, products and services.

The improvements begin with a new home page that brings content together in one intuitive interface. This single consolidated view provides users with access to ThomasNet's extensive database, as well as white papers, community forums and a collection of industry news.

Users can search more than 607,000 industrial suppliers, indexed by 70,000 product and service categories. They also have access to thousands of industrial product catalogs and more than 20 million CAD drawings. now offers access to more than 800 white papers and case studies by thought leaders in manufacturing on product applications, processes and technologies.

The new features and functionality include the ability to add or remove search criteria as needed so users can easily narrow or expand their searches to yield the most relevant results. For instance, they can view only suppliers with online product catalogs, CAD drawings or both.

There is also the opportunity for greater personalization through saved searches. Users can save individual suppliers or short lists of multiple suppliers and view companies side by side. When they return to for another search, their save suppliers and short lists are easily accessible on the home page. Users can also now more easily locate local manufacturers, distributors and service providers.

In addition, users now have free access to request for information/proposal/quote (RFx) and reverse action tools to quicken the procurement process. Purchasers no longer have to sort through and manage supplier responses to quotes via disparate emails and faxes. Now they can centrally manage communications and share them with colleagues. The tools can be incorporated into the user's workflow through an interface that ThomasNet says requires no additional training. ThomasNet partnered with Source One Management Services LLC, a procurement service provider, to offer these tools.

ThomasNet has also introduced a new tools and gadgets center. One of the resources in the center is a toolbar designed for the manufacturing community that gives users the option of searching or general search engines. The toolbar offers 19 different features, including the ability to view additional supplier information with one click when visiting the website of a company listed in ThomasNet's database.

Google toolbar users can add a "ThomasNet Express" button that searches iGoogle integration enables users to add a ThomasNet search box to their personalized home pages developed through iGoogle. For Microsoft Vista users, there is a 10-in-1 conversion calculator that enables engineers to do calculations of engineering formulas.

This is quite an impressive list of enhancements that ThomasNet has launched. But this is something that is not unexpected from this company. One of the most impressive things about ThomasNet is that the company never rests on its laurels. While it continues to be a major player in its space, it never acts like it. ThomasNet is continually seeking to bolster its presence in the marketplace and become the ultimate information source for the professionals the company serves. Chances are, current customers were not contemplating leaving ThomasNet for another service provider. But now, with these enhanced features, they will most likely even stay longer--as customers. Their visits, thanks to these enhancements, will be shorter and more efficient--qualities that all web businesses must strive to provide for their visitors. What's even more impressive is the fact that ThomasNet is probably not done--the company is most likely contemplating another round of enhancements.