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Manufacturing: Vendor Relations and Purchasing

With any manufacturing operation, the rate of incoming supply truly dictates the speed of the assembly line. To this end, the purchasing process must work as a well-oiled machine.

Most manufacturing professionals seek material vendors capable of fast turn-around time and flexible delivery. It’s a common practice for today’s manufactures to utilize a supplier evaluation processbefore signing any purchasing contracts. This method usually involves several steps to gage capabilities.

  • The manufacturer should look at the vendor’s technology competence to ensure they possess the proper tools to even handle the job.
  • The manufacturer should decide whether the vendor suits their procurement strategy.
  • The manufacturer should always check the vendor’s financial stability, as a poor record in this area is a major liability.
  • Manufacturers must carefully review the supplier’s delivery lead times. The cheapest materials are worth even less if they don’t reach the manufacturer on schedule.
  • Manufacturers should talk with vendors about delivery flexibility. A supplier that’s willing to help out a loyal client and offer Just-In-Time (JIT) delivery is all the more valuable.
  • Finally, manufacturers should shop around for prices before making any decisions. As mentioned earlier, paying a bit more for quality and reliability could save the manufacturer big bucks down the road.

Many manufacturing companies realize that molding good vendor relations is a two-way street. As a result, a number of them list their supplier expectations on their websites. This allows vendors vying for the work to see exactly what the manufacturer demands of them - basically pulling no surprises.

These online sections usually include info about product and services purchased by the manufacturer, background on any programs – such as supplier diversity, a list of current suppliers, a procurement calendar, contacts and more. Some manufacturers even include online supplier registration forms.

While technology, like the Internet, definitely helps keep vendor relations open, some manufacturers still rely on traditional methods to build rapport with their suppliers. For instance, simply offering up feedback to the vendor about their performance goes a long way to improved relationships.

But even before receiving that first shipment of materials, the manufacturer should team up with the vendor and jointly establish standard operating procedures. This includes outlining standards for workmanship, quality and inspection. Industry insiders even recommend manufacturers chip in and help their suppliers bolster their quality improvement programs. By playing a proactive role now, manufacturers likely will benefit in the future.

Last but not least, manufactures need to be considerate of the vendor’s schedule as well. They should try to stay consistent in their order volume and scheduling.

IT Solutions And Smoother Supply Chains

For decades, manufacturers have struggled to map out ways to cut down on material waste and get the most out of their purchases. After much agitation, many have thrown their drawing boards to the side and invested in software to resolve the problem.

IT companies offer programs designed to anticipate, shape and respond quickly and efficiently to production demand. These applications often track market analytics; mold and database optimized supply networks for enhanced resiliency and offer solutions to reduce the risk of waste and overspending. While this software can cost upwards of a few hundred dollars, it ultimately can save manufacturers thousands.