According to numerous websites and Linkedin groups, developing more sophisticated and innovative supplier relationships is on many OEM buyers’ agendas. We have a white paper on this very subject.
Developing such supplier relationships is probably most common with the most important and large suppliers. However, this may be opportunity lost. Many small manufacturing companies are managed by people who are latent inventors, driven internally to diagnose how things work and then how to make them work better. There is also no large bureaucracy to get in the way.
Proficient Sourcing has a network of small manufacturers, and exists to help buyers find suitable new sources without cost or obligation. We know these companies well, and most we know of would be thrilled to become involved in trouble shooting design issues associated with OEM products for which they are contributing parts. You can be assured the suppliers are HIGHLY motivated to help with the success of these products and represent an available resource that might be extremely beneficial.
As we have noted in, for example, the white paper referenced above, the supplier can very often suggest changes to your product or parts that would reduce costs. Challenging tolerances that appear too tight for the application is an obvious one. In such a case we have seen examples where the engineer who designed the product specified tolerances overall, when only needed in a few places.
Encourage your supplier to communicate such things to you, and as would be recommended for any “suggestion box” situation, be sure to close the loop with news of what action will be taken.
Proficient Sourcing’s business is to continuously seek excellent manufacturers and then provide recommended sources to those seeking suppliers for specific things. Our network is broad and deep, and we also have excellent connections to find something outside our network of companies. If and when you encounter the need for a new supplier, we hope you will keep us in mind. (513) 489-5252 connects you with fast action to solve your supplier needs.
As we noted above, these companies would be very pleased to assist you in developing improvements to your product. It is useful to remember these companies will soon become expert in the manufacture of what they supply. What they may lack is how the part fits into some finished product and then how that product is supposed to work for the ultimate customer.
If you are interested in developing a supplier who will help your innovation efforts, this is the sort of knowledge the supplier needs as a start. You can be confident the supplier’s person of contact will pass that along to others in the supplier company. You can also be confident there will be conversations about how to make things better, cheaper and faster, and perhaps even more effective, given sufficient information.
There is a strong likelihood such conversations are already occurring within the supplier company. Usually the supplier is operating with only fragmented information, so just imagine what might happen if you provided information in a more proactive manner. Now you can anticipate more focused conversations at the supplier, and you can expect that supplier to generate some improvement ideas, and perhaps other innovations.
We believe you will be surprised at how easily such innovative activity is both energized and shared. Your task is to channel that effort and be sure to create some motivation so the supplier continues to give you useful information. It should not prove difficult to activate this sort of supplier behavior—just be sure the supplier benefits somehow and you’ll get innovation galore if you have chosen your supplier wisely.