Finding a custom plastic injection molding supplier can be a long and arduous task. You want someone who provides the most value and who is a good fit for you, for your company and for the program. Someone who checks all the boxes. But, what are those boxes, and how should you value each?
Ultimately, how you evaluate vendors and compare proposals depends on your unique needs and circumstances. That being said, this article is intended to offer some perspective to make the process a little easier, more thorough and, consequently, successful.
1. Service Oriented
Although supplying parts, viewed from a different perspective, a plastic injection molder provides the service of using your molds and their machines to convert plastic pellets into the shape specified by the product design. Therefore, as a service provider, it should be in a molder’s DNA to focus on serving their clients. Some elements of that would include accessibility, courtesy, patience, helpfulness, convenience, and professionalism.
As a corollary to service, your supplier should be willing and able to adapt to and accommodate the unique needs, requirements and specifications of your program, rather than having an overly rigid and uncompromising system and mindset. They should collaborate and cooperate with you in order to customize their services to meet your needs, as much as is reasonably practicable.
This can be viewed two ways: Procedurally and substantively. First, does the molder provide and maintain regular lines of communication? Nowadays, this means phone, email and text, at least, and can include instant messaging, enterprise communications (like Slack), and even on social media. Are they easy to get in touch with when you need them, or do you have to follow up to get a response? Do they respond to inquiries in a timely manner with valuable information?
Secondly, is your supplier effective at both verbal and written communication, being both thorough and concise in their explanations? Do they understand things from your perspective? Do they communicate with you in a way that makes it easy for you to understand the situation? Do they collaborate with you to resolve the issues?
Of course, as a manufacturer and supplier of parts and components, the quality of the fabricated product is of the utmost importance. Therefore, the molder should have a quality management system that is certified by an independent third party (e.g., ISO), which should give you confidence knowing they maintain a certain level of competency and performance. Do they have quality assurance and quality control procedures in place that they will customize to meet your requirements (reasonably speaking), and do they have knowledgeable quality personnel to carry out those processes? Do the molder’s employees undergo any type of training? Do they have a record of supplying conforming parts? How about positive customer testimonials and reviews?
Not only do you need good parts, but you need to get them on time. Consistently. Dependably. Do you receive complete, conforming orders in a timely manner, or are there delays and/or partial shipments? Additionally, what is the molder’s lead time for processing orders? Do they reply to inquiries in a timely fashion?
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