Being able to rely on your manufacturing suppliers is a prerequisite for business success, but most companies experience challenges in this area. Eighty-three percent of manufacturers report being adversely impacted by a supplier’s inability to satisfy their needs, a survey by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) says. One-third of companies expect to experience a shortage of parts or services this year. Two-thirds of those experiencing problems are working with their current supplier to resolve the issue, while one-third have turned to their suppliers’ competitors for help.
If you’re looking for a new manufacturing supplier, you obviously don’t want a repeat of the same problems that led you to abandon your old one. Here are three tips on what to look for to help you find a reliable manufacturing supplier who will get you the quality parts you need on time and at an affordable price.
Look for Reliability
To locate a suitable supplier, ASQ recommends a list of supplier selection criteria to consider. Several of these revolve around reliability. A reliable supplier should have a track record of past experience and performance with the product or service you need. Suppliers with a good track record will have a strong customer base, meaning they should be financially stable. Additionally, they should have the capacity to meet your needs on the delivery schedule you require, both in the present and in the event your needs expand in the future.
To evaluate a supplier’s track record and financial stability, ASQ suggests checking the company’s publicly available financial reports or consulting a resource that provides information on companies for investors. You can also review other databases or industry resources with information on the supplier or their product line.
To evaluate a supplier’s ability to meet your delivery needs, you can ask them about their production capacity, delivery terms of service and guarantees. You can also talk to other customers who have purchased from them and ask for references from satisfied customers.
Test for Quality
Other crucial criteria pertain to supplier quality. A prospective supplier should have a quality control system sophisticated enough to meet whatever regulations or registration requirements apply in your industry. They should also exhibit technical support availability and a willingness to work with you as a long-term partner to optimize design and production.
To confirm a supplier’s quality control system, seek verification through an on-site inspection, a written survey or a certification of quality system registration. You should also request a sample for validation testing, which better suppliers will be prepared to provide. For instance, o-ring supplier Apple Rubber includes a free sample request form on its website to make it easy for clients to order samples. This type of willingness to provide samples is a good indicator of the quality of both a company’s products and its customer service.
Do a Total Cost Assessment
Reliability and quality are essential, but cost comes into play when you’re considering your bottom line. Your cost assessment should factor in total costs, including products, shipping, and service and support fees. You should also find out what type of minimum part order policies prospective suppliers have, as well as what types of bulk purchase discounts they offer.
In order to find the best price for your needs, shop around and compare several suppliers. Directories such as ThomasNet can help you locate suitable suppliers. Some sites such as Maker’s Row act as matching services between companies and manufacturing suppliers.