Good old qualified-material. Sometimes it is your best friend and sometimes it is your worst enemy. If your application runs great, the price is right, and you have no quality issues, you are set for the life of the application. On the other hand, if your application doesn’t run the way it needs to, you spend way too much on the material, and quality is suspect, you don’t hesitate to qualify a new material.
However, when you are stuck in the fuzzy grey area, maybe only 1 (maybe 2) of the 3 qualities is bad, the questions always arise…(How bad is it? We can make it work, can’t we? Isn’t dealing with it easier than qualifying a new material?) We get it, qualifying new material is A LOT of work. You put both time and money into something and sometimes aren’t even 100% sure you’ll get a better result than what you are currently using. If you’ve gotten to the point where you sincerely believe it is time to look at new materials (maybe your Service Call Rate is going up), but have trouble convincing the decision makers to do so, this week’s post is for you.
So You Think it is Time for a Change
We thought it would be good to list some of the common arguments against qualifying a new material and follow it up with some reasons to just bite the bullet.
1. We don’t have time to qualify a new gasket material right now.
This is probably the #1 reason why a new material qualification effort never gets out of the meeting room. Time is a precious commodity, and it can be hard to convince the decision makers to allocate time towards such an activity when there is already a product that (sort of) works. (Shouldn’t one failure be too many?) However, there is always time – it just takes prioritization. How much time is spent troubleshooting issues stemming from the material? The later you are in the design process, the more time these issues will cost you. Then, when the application is out in the field, you’re dealing with service calls and warranty issues. If the decision makers don’t think you have time now, just wait! A prioritization of time up front to get a better material in your application is going to save you hours later (do the math, crunch the numbers).
2. Do you know how much it costs to qualify a new gasket material?
If #1 isn’t the first response you get, you’re probably told the company isn’t willing to spend money on qualifying a new material. Again, depending on where you are at in the design process, this could be a very expensive task. This is why it is important to present your case as soon as you realize there is an issue. The sooner a change in material can happen, the less expensive it will be. Numbers don’t lie – if you can make a case for a change at any point and justify the cost, the decision makers will have trouble telling you it isn’t approved.
3. We went through all of the possible materials we could have used back when this project started. We are using the best there is.
Material changes. Technology changes. Try to make a list of products that have never changed…we bet the list isn’t very long. Do some research and present your case (and be ready for responses similar to #1 and #2).
4. You’re asking me to spend more money in the hopes of better performance?
We all know that sometimes the need for cost savings wins the battle when it is decision making time, but when reality sets in, sometimes paying a little more pays off in the long run. See our prior blog post How Much Should Gasket Material Cost?.
Make the Change
Nothing is more frustrating than having an application where a material isn’t quite right. It doesn’t matter whether the issue is performance, price or quality, dealing with these repeated issues is not a value-added activity. Making the decision to qualify a new material is a big one, but the long term benefits of completing the process are usually well worth the effort. As with everything, looking at the big picture is so important. Don’t work just to satisfy an immediate need, make sure the work you do is going to make life with the application easier in the future.
Change can be good!