Part 2 of 4
Searching for a new supplier takes time and effort. Trying to figure out how to measure and compare vendors can be challenging. To assist with this task, the first installment of this article presented five factors to consider in your analysis, and this part discusses five more.
6. Technical Support & Expertise
Plastic injection molding is quite a technical and specialized endeavor. Generally speaking, molders need to have a working knowledge of and experience with tooling fabrication and utilization; the chemistry and behavior of resin and additive types; utilizing machines with hundreds of tons of clamping pressure and inspection equipment to confirm tolerances of a thousandth of an inch; and efficient and effective production and quality procedures to manufacture and supply millions of conforming parts in a timely manner.
Accordingly, your supplier should be an expert that you can depend on to competently service the needs of your program and to advise you on virtually every aspect of your plastic injection molding program. At minimum, this includes part design, materials, tooling design and construction, engineering, processing, quality management, secondary operations, packaging, and logistics. In addition, suppliers should have personnel that are available and able to provide the necessary technical support you need. Further, your molder should attempt to be proactive and to identify and notify you of any issues before they occur and of any potential cost-saving measures that could be implemented.
7. Troubleshooting & Problem Solving
Even in ideal circumstances, stuff happens. When issues arise, does your molder have the knowledge and resources to identify the cause(s) and to implement solutions in a timely and effective manner? Do they consult with and explain things to you during the process? Do they have an in-house tooling department, or do they have to send the mold out for repairs? How quickly do they get the program back online? Problems are a part of doing business and, likewise, are an inevitable element of manufacturing. Accordingly, a plastic injection molder should be adept at troubleshooting and problem solving.
We’re all busy. Trying to multitask. Hoping we don’t miss some deadline or forget to do something important. We have to-do lists and calendars and reminders and schedules and meetings and metrics and so on and so on. And, that’s just for work! As such, it’s crucial that you can rely on your molder to supply you with conforming parts on time on a regular basis, so you can focus your attention on other pressing matters.
Additionally, when those pesky issues arise (and they will), do you have the confidence in your molder to take care of it? The peace of mind knowing you have a dependable supplier can be incredibly important, as you may well know, especially if you have one that isn’t.
9. Continual Improvement
As the Red Queen said, “…it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” In other words, organisms (including companies) constantly must adapt, evolve and improve in order to survive and thrive against a constantly changing environment. As such, suppliers should have a practice of monitoring their performance, regularly reviewing its effectiveness, and implementing changes to keep up with the dynamic environment of business.
Also, is the molder certified to be operating in conformance with some industry standard, like ISO, which requires them to be continually improving? Do they communicate with their customers regarding their performance on an annual basis, at least, in the form of a customer satisfaction survey? Do they regularly add new equipment and service offerings?
Increasingly, company culture is becoming more important to employees, to customers, and to society in general. Corporate values and practices matter and, thus, should and do factor into buying decisions and brand loyalty.
Does the supplier appear to genuinely want to serve its clients? Do they have stated company values you agree with, and do they appear to follow them? How transparent are their operations? Do they have positive customer recommendations and testimonials? Has the company or its leadership been recognized as exemplary in any way? Use your intuition and try to gather as much objective evidence as possible, so that you can make the right decision.
Go here for part 3 of 4.