Part 3 of 4
Here are five more features of a potential molding partner to include in your research and analysis.
11. Standards & Certifications
Your company may have certain certifications its suppliers are required to have, so the molder obviously will need to have those. However, even if you don’t require anything specific, working with a supplier who maintains certifications or registrations with outside organizations and/or governmental agencies generally is a good idea, assuming you want to enter a relationship with a high-quality vendor.
Obtaining and maintaining certifications is no small feat so, presumably, the supplier earned whatever qualifications they have. Additionally, it is an indication the molder adheres to the applicable standards, because it undergoes audits conducted by objective third parties, in addition to internal reviews performed by its own staff. Quality certifications and standards, like those published by ISO, are the most common in manufacturing and can be general or specialized to a specific industry. Government agencies, most industries, and many trade associations have standards related to their respective fields, too.
If you are researching potential plastic suppliers, you are probably spending quite a bit of time and effort doing so. That’s because you want to make the best choice possible. Choosing an injection molding supplier is an important decision, because your company is entering into a potentially long-term relationship, not just a single transaction. Accordingly, one of the items to consider is the stability of the business.
Stability of a molder (or lack thereof) can manifest itself in many different areas. To begin with, how long have they been in business? It takes a lot for a company to remain in operation over a significant period of time. So, if they have been around for a while, they’re probably doing something right. Additionally, when you visit the plant (which you should), are the facilities clean, quiet and controlled? As Peter Drucker said, a dramatic factory is poorly managed. Also, what’s the general tone and demeanor of the molder’s staff? That question segues us nicely into the next item.
13. The Human Element
While, of course, this is a business-related subject and has to do with a business-to-business relationship, never underestimate the importance of people. Because, after all, most things basically boil down to people working together (i.e., human relationships). Assuming that’s true, what type of people own, manage and work for the molder? Are they friendly, helpful and accommodating? Are they authentic, empathic and ethical (as far as you can tell)?
These individuals will be the ones to receive and process your orders, to answer your calls and emails, to explain the causes of and solutions to any issues, to provide technical support, and to produce, package and ship your parts. They will make decisions that affect your program. Seeing as you’re entering into a long-term relationship with these people, do what you can to ensure they have the character and competence to handle your work properly.
14. Equipment & Resources
Although you may not need to get all the details regarding the molder’s equipment, obtaining some basic information can be insightful. Both quantity and quality are relevant here. For example, how many molding machines to they have, and how old are they? Also, what is their current workload capacity? What kind of quality inspection equipment to they use? Are they modern, digital vision instruments? If they have an in-house tooling department, what kind of equipment does it have? Additionally, is their equipment serviced and calibrated on a regular basis? Further, does the molder’s equipment look relatively new, clean, and well maintained?
If the supplier is building tooling for your company, what kind of warranty or guarantee comes with it? Some mold builders don’t want to give any warranty, using a “we don’t know how you’re going to use it” type of argument. However, the same can be said for cars or any number of other products being sold in the world, so that mindset should raise some red flags. At the bare minimum, most goods sold in the US have implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, unless expressly disclaimed. Molds should have certain warranties regarding materials (at minimum), craftsmanship (preferably), and completely for a certain number of cycles (ideally). Additionally, regarding the production and supply of parts, note the terms and conditions contained within the supply agreement regarding conformity, timeliness and any other relevant factors.
Go here for part 4 of 4.