Procurement divisions have always played a key role in industry, whereas the strategic value of an organization's relationships with its external stakeholders, especially its suppliers, has often flown under the radar...
January 18, 2021 . 3min read
It is well-accepted that prices are far from the only factor you should consider when choosing a thermal sensor supplier. You also need to look at service quality, customer support, and on-time delivery. Although they are not as easy to measure, experience and trust are just as important.
A prospective supplier’s production capabilities are great indicators of what you can expect from a supplier. In fact, your sales strategy, priorities, and ability to meet your customers’ needs will depend heavily on your supplier’s production capabilities.
Read on to learn what we think are the top three production-related aspects you should look at when choosing a supplier.
- Lead time as an indicator of a robust supply chain
Lead time is the time it takes to complete a process. In an industrial manufacturing scenario, it usually refers to how long it takes to make a product. In the thermal imaging industry in general, and in infrared detector manufacturing in particular, lead times tend to be long. This is because the technology is so advanced and because the materials used need special handling and care. This is especially true for cooled detectors.
When you look at a prospective supplier’s lead times, the ability to guarantee a specific lead time is more important than how long the actual lead time is. This is because lead time has to be a predictable, reliable indicator that is known well before production starts. So, a supplier has to clearly communicate lead times and stick to them.
Sometimes, however, things don’t go as planned. Even the best-oiled production machines can break down. Your supplier should have a plan for dealing with unforeseen events and ensuring that they do not affect lead times. Buffer inventory is one way to keep production moving and reduce the risk of running out of parts.
- Rigorous testing as an indicator of product reliability
Most suppliers will pride themselves on producing quality products. But how can you be sure? Internationally-renowned quality certifications like ISO 9001 and EN9100 offer a partial indication. Product testing completes the picture.
In volume manufacturing scenarios, achieving predictable, reproducible quality is a challenge. The most experienced thermal sensor supplier manufacturers conduct rigorous factory testing to offer high-quality, robust, reliable products with a predictable lifespan. Tests replicate a wide variety of real-world use environments. A broad range of issues affecting the product environment and lifecycle will also be factored in. Mathematical models can also be used to predict product performance over time. Finally, standard quality assurance methods like 8D could also be used to manage and correct any quality issues.
You do need to look at what kind of factory testing your supplier does to get a good idea of product quality and robustness. A supplier that does not want to share factory testing information with you is probably not a good sign.
- Manufacturing automation as an indicator of volume production capabilities
A supplier has to invest in automated manufacturing equipment to support volume production.
Top infrared component manufacturers have completely automated production lines. Automation does more than just help suppliers manufacture faster and more efficiently. It also makes it easier to manage and monitor production. Finally, automation also ensures reproducible processes for consistent and predictable product quality. So, automation is definitely something you should look for in a prospective supplier.
The thermal imager market is fast-paced and competitive, and choosing a supplier can seem daunting. However, if you look closely at the three production-related factors above, you will increase your chances of success. Don’t forget to look at “softer” skills like your supplier’s ability to adapt to your ideas and bring you solutions that exceed your expectations. Although harder to quantify, these qualities are important to your relationship with your future supplier and the growth of your business!
If you would like to learn more about how to assess your supplier’s production capabilities, book a fifteen-minute call with one of our experts, who will be happy to answer your questions!