Former SpaceX group optimizing supply chain for manufacturers

Dec. 21, 2021
Co-founders collectively sourced $1B in highly specialized parts for manufacturers in aerospace, defense, automotive industries and more.

Datum announced its official launch of operations, aiming to help manufacturers bring complex hardware and products to market faster by solving for inefficiencies in the supply chain. The company’s team of experts can recognize and anticipate supply nuances across a range of advanced industries, they claim including aerospace, defense, automotive, medical devices, energy, motorsports, robotics and more.

Datum was founded by a trio of former SpaceX supply chain experts, including CEO Robert Pakalski, COO Thomas Cobbs and Chief Supply Chain Officer Ryan Nagle. After they faced numerous roadblocks trying to source parts at SpaceX, they concluded that the supply chain for advanced manufacturing is riddled with inefficiencies, and even today’s most cutting-edge technology companies are using antiquated methods for procuring parts and hardware.

“Datum has the knowledge, supply base, and operations necessary to source complex parts and hardware faster than any other procurement service provider on the market,” said Pakalski. “Rapid product development requires methodical supplier identification, secure communication, efficient quoting and diligent project management—all of which are imperative for sustainable business operations. We see value in having an even more strategic, streamlined procurement process for the overall supply chain.”

Leading up to the launch, Datum secured more than $1 million in pre-seed funding over the course of 2021 and is in the process of raising another $5 million seed round in Q1 of 2022, they note.

Datum is built for those sourcing precision machined components, and launches with two core services:

  • Its proprietary software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that helps buyers of custom-machined computer numerical control (CNC) parts locate their optimal supplier.
  • A separate Managed Services division for firms to supplement, or fully outsource, their procurement operations.

The company’s SaaS platform has the capabilities to analyze a computer-aided design (CAD) file of a machined part and automatically match buyers with suppliers who have optimal equipment to machine a part. After identifying the best suppliers to manufacture a part, users can then execute secure file-transfer of confidential engineering files to supplier partners, administer request for quote (RFQ) packages, and down-select the best supplier option through a dashboard which helps determine the best proposal received.

Datum’s SaaS platform will soon expand beyond CNC machining and include all advanced manufacturing verticals, they add.

In the platform, users can identify a supplier with optimal equipment, skillset, and commercial standing and can then communicate directly with the supplier to quote a specific part. Meanwhile others serve as a "middle-man" and do not share with users at the specific machine shop manufacturing the part.

Some examples of complex inputs for which the company’s Managed Services division specializes include:

  • sheet metal
  • composites
  • welding
  • wire harnessing
  • fasteners
  • COTS hardware
  • raw materials
  • batteries
  • electric motors
  • surface treatment