Part 4 of 4
This is the final installment in our four-part series on the qualities to look for in a plastic injection molding supplier. We hope you find it helpful in your research.
16. Business Knowledge
In addition to competency in manufacturing and in plastic injection molding, your supplier should know how to run a successful business. If they do, it should contribute toward their overall performance, which means higher quality parts, timely deliveries, helpful customer service, and competitive pricing. The perspective that comes from business and industry insight and understanding should result in a certain level of professionalism that makes them better and more of a valuable resource for you and for your company.
Your injection molder should be an expert in their field and, as such, should provide you with the guidance necessary to make informed decisions regarding your parts and program. This can include optimizing part designs for moldability, manufacturability and performance; researching and recommending materials; and identifying potential cost saving initiatives. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, do they guide you through the problem-solving process when issues arise, and are they proactive in suggesting improvements before problems occur? Their knowledge, experience and expertise are a large part of what makes them a valuable resource to you and, consequently, should not be overlooked or undervalued.
Obviously, the process of finding the right injection molder will include a financial analysis. However, the bottom line often isn’t. There are many intangibles to factor in, and you need to decide how much you value each.
Additionally, make sure you are comparing apples to apples when looking at competing suppliers and proposals. For example, if tooling is being built, do the molds have the same number of cavities, the same warranties, the same expected lifespan, etc.? Is the molder providing you with different options for tooling and production and with quantity price breaks? Also, beware of any extra costs and fees, like mold qualification charges, process validation charges, mold setup fees, material and color change fees, outbound handling fees, etc. This is not to suggest those expenses are illegitimate, just make sure you factor them into your analysis.
As we all know, the foundation of any successful relationship includes trust. And, although this is related to other items on this list (e.g., dependability and the human element), we felt it was important enough to mention on its own. That’s because the value of truly believing your supplier will take care of you and your program cannot be overstated.
Do you trust the molder to look out for your best interests in a selfless manner, or do you think that, given the chance, they will take advantage of a situation to your detriment? There potentially will be opportunities for the supplier’s management and personnel to make decisions that will affect the quality and pricing of your parts. Likewise, knowing they will collaborate, communicate and cooperate with you means they truly are a business partner, which frees you up to focus on other suppliers of yours who aren’t.
Not too long ago, I had an engineer tell me that the final decision on a project was not his and that, “Obviously, they [management] will go with whoever has the lowest price.” Unfortunately, this is an all-to-common and quite limited mindset, especially when considering the context.
When you are undertaking a project and engaging a company to provide you with custom manufacturing that is going to involve a significant financial investment and to require ongoing dependability over an extended period of time which could have a serious impact (positively or negatively) on your business’s sales, profitability and reputation, simply looking for and choosing the cheapest option is dangerously imprudent, incurs unnecessary risk, potentially hinders company growth, and generally invites problems.
Accordingly, while off-the-shelf parts may be just a commodity, the search for a supplier of custom injection molded parts should be focused on finding someone who provides the greatest comprehensive value. This must include analyzing all aspects of the molder as a supplier and as a business partner and evaluating how well they fit your wants and expectations, your company’s needs, and the unique requirements of the program.