Deciding Where to Buy Your Gasket Material? Here Are 6 Things to Think About.

So, you’re in the market for a new gasket material supplier? We get it, it is not an easy decision. You’ve probably been googling all sorts of phrases and probably stumbled upon this blog. There are a lot of things to consider, and it’s more than “does their material work?”. Ultimately, if the material seals no better than a piece of Swiss cheese, it doesn’t matter what else the supplier can do for you.

There are a lot of factors that come into play when you make a decision. Depending on your situation, some may be more important to you than others at any given time. We compiled a list of things (in no particular order) that deserve some consideration when you are in the market for a new supplier.

Does the Supplier…

1. Have material that works?

(In this case, we’re talking before you get to the point of testing a specific material in your specific application.) When you talk with representatives of the company, do they sell material that is tried and tested? How long has the company been in business? What is their core competency? Do they do what they do well? Do you feel sufficiently confident that this company is worth moving forward with? Do you get the feeling when you talk with them that they are sufficiently confident that they can meet your needs?

2. Have samples available? 

It seems hard to imagine that you couldn’t get a sample from a supplier, but it happens! Sometimes getting your hands on a piece of material makes all the difference in your decision making process. Whether you use it to see how it cuts, or to run some tests on, this can be enough to give you the confidence to put in an order.

3. Have great customer service? 

We could write 3 pages on the importance of great customer service, but it all boils down to a few things. Is someone there to answer when you call? Do they get back to you in a timely manner? Is your order delivered when they said it would deliver? When there is an issue, how accommodating are they to help solve it? If you are starting to work with someone new, you aren’t going to necessarily know the answers to these questions, but you can sometimes get a feel for it when you talk with them – how direct are their answers to these questions?

4. Have a quality system in place? 

Having a quality system in place doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never ever have an issue with your material, but it does guarantee that there is a constant effort being put forth to continually make things better. Issues are expected to be few and far between, and if something happens, you can count on corrective action being taken. A company that has a focus on quality is always working to better their processes to manufacture better products. A company that has a certified quality management system takes quality very seriously, and in return, you should take them seriously.

5. Serve more than one industry with a diverse product line? 

Some could argue that their approach is to do one thing really, really well. With that, you can sometimes get a little short-sighted and start to have tunnel vision. Companies that serve a wide variety of markets and have a diverse product line in many different types of applications tend to see the big picture and stay on the cutting edge. They know more about what is out there and can be a great resource for you when you are making decisions about which type of gasket material to use. Ask them what they sell to their customers for a specific application and why.

6. Offer technical assistance before and after the purchase? 

When you deal with a company that knows their products inside and out, you also tend to find a lot of technical assistance. When dealing with gaskets, you definitely want this type of resource. Find someone that can help you engineer the right material during the design phase, but can also be there to help you troubleshoot any issues during the verification and validation phases, as well as out in the field. Who doesn’t want a gasket material expert on their team?!?

Happy Hunting!

Hopefully this helps you get going in the right direction, and that you can find someone to meet your needs. If you have any questions about finding the right supplier, please get in touch!

What else would you add to this list?

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Supplier of Gasket Material

Your supplier of gasket material can be your best friend in the business or unfortunately, sometimes, your biggest headache. Deciding on a gasket material supplier is a big decision that will affect YOUR business – whether you are an OEM or a fabricator. Learning about the questions you should be asking may make that decision a little easier. As an experienced supplier of gasket material that has been asked a few questions over our 21 years, we thought it might be beneficial to list out some of the more important questions you may want to ask (and why you want to ask them).

The Big Questions

So, you’re in the market for a new supplier – whether it is for a new application, or you’re shopping around for someone to replace a current material – the questions that you should consider asking will help you ascertain if you would like to do business with this supplier. Suppliers love to have a solution to your problems….speaking for all of us, let us try to pass the test.

1. What types of material are available?

All gasket materials aren’t created the same. Before beginning any sort of in depth conversation, you want to be sure either 1) you know exactly what type of material you need and the supplier has it, or 2) if you don’t know what you need, you want to be sure the supplier has a diverse enough offering to meet your needs.

2. Is technical help available for my application?

Just like when you buy a computer or TV, you want to be sure there is going to be someone on the other end of the line that is knowledgeable and can help you troubleshoot or even help solve your problems. You automatically feel at ease with anyone that can actually “talk the talk” as opposed to reading you paragraph after paragraph from the owners manual! A supplier that is going to be a resource for you from development through production is a huge benefit (believe us!).

3. Are material samples available for prototypes?

You need samples made available to you more often than not. How else are you going to validate the material? Make sure the supplier can deliver.

4. What is your quality system?

Whether or not you have requirements for your suppliers to be certified to a quality management system, you still want to find out if a potential supplier is certified to something (ISO, ISO/TS, etc). A supplier that has a certified quality management system should signify to you that they have things under control, and you should have a high level of confidence and consistency in the quality of the product you will be receiving.

5. What is your experience with this type of application?

You wouldn’t buy a car from an appliance salesperson (or vice versa). You want to work with a gasket material supplier that has placed parts in an application that is similar to your application. Any experience that the supplier has is going to benefit you. You want to be getting the best advice for your application as possible.

What To Look For In Your Supplier

Bottom line, you want your gasket material supplier to be your PARTNER. You have the application and the specifications, and gasket material suppliers have the knowledge about what materials will meet those needs. Obviously, everyone wants a supplier to be responsive, informative, focused on customer service and working to lower your costs. Now, take that a level deeper – you want your PARTNER to work with you to find a solution, be extremely knowledgeable and able to think outside of the box, and able to troubleshoot and suggest an alternate material if you aren’t seeing the results you’d hoped to see.

There are so many decisions to make in regards to getting an application to perform effectively. Let’s make your gasket material supplier decision an easier one!

Until next time!

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