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?!?
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?