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 25 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 (IATF, 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!