Learn how to eliminate risk when changing material suppliers.
Manufacturers must often change suppliers in a constantly evolving market to stay competitive, but making the change can feel overwhelming. In this blog, you'll discover five seamless strategies for transitioning suppliers, reducing stress, and simplifying the process. These steps will secure a new supplier that aligns with your needs without disrupting production.
Are you considering shaking up your supplier lineup? Dive in!
1. What Are Your Needs?
Begin by assessing your needs to get a clear picture. Involve your team in evaluating your current supplier, considering their strengths and weaknesses.
Make a detailed list of your requirements, considering past solutions might not fit your current needs.
The core question is whether your supplier can support your future growth while increasing product quality.
2. Exploring Options: Your Due Diligence
Steps to consider:
3. Knowledge Transfer and Data Testing
Now, it's time for you to look at your potential new supplier's capabilities. To do this effectively, provide them with your product data and evaluate their outcomes, typically through a quote.
Request for Quotation (RFQ)
During the RFQ, ensure you provide the supplier with essential details to help them produce a comprehensive quote:
These details may include:
- 2D & 3D Drawings
- Bill of Materials (BOM)
- Functional prototype
- Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) and annual volume forecast
- Target Price for projected volumes
Once you receive the RFQ, the new supplier will supply quotes for various aspects, including assembly, raw materials, quality control, packaging, and shipping. Confirm if you're transferring existing tools or setting up new ones to reduce risks.
Once the quote is accepted, the source supplier's sample production gauges their capability. Multiple defects at this stage could signal a mismatch, prompting a search for an alternative supplier.
Having gathered quotes and samples from multiple suppliers, evaluate your situation. Assess whether the received samples and quotes warrant changing your current supplier.
4. The Pre-Production Phase
Upon finding the supplier that fits your needs, the following steps involve transitioning into the production phase:
Finalizing the Agreement:
Confirm the contractual terms and conditions with the chosen supplier. This agreement details business relationships, including responsibilities, timelines, and expectations.
Alignment of Ongoing Tasks:
Ensure any ongoing tasks or developmental activities are consistent with the planned production schedule. Address any pending issues or charges that might set back the production timeline.
Preparation of Tools and Equipment:
Gather and set up the necessary tools, fixtures, and machinery for production. This step ensures that the infrastructure needed for manufacturing or assembling products is set up and operation-ready.
Creation of a Benchmark Sample:
Develop a prototype or sample that reflects the desired production standard. This 'ideal sample' is a reference point for quality control. It should also ensure that later products satisfy these standards.
Establishment of Production Line Guidelines:
Organize the production line by setting up workstations, detailing assembly instructions, and perfecting the workflow. A well-structured production line supports the consistency and flow of the manufacturing process.
5. Launch, Support, and Iterate
After resolving pilot phase challenges, the focus shifts to scaling production to meet demand. Overcoming these hurdles completes the supplier transition, ensuring consistent, efficient production.
>>Recommended Reading: No-Code Low-Code Can Solve Supply Chain Woes<<
Two Hypothetical Examples of Changing Suppliers
Creating a clear picture helps you visualize what changing suppliers entails. Here are two examples to help you understand the process.
Tech Innovators Inc.
Tech Innovators Inc. specializes in developing innovative software solutions. Due to scalability issues, they changed their current server provider to a new one. After careful evaluation, they select a supplier with better infrastructure and scalability options. The transition involves a pilot phase to evaluate the new server's performance, ensuring it meets its stringent requirements. Once the challenges are overcome, they scale up their server capabilities, ensuring seamless operations for their innovative software products.
AutoTech Motors focus is on manufacturing electric vehicles (EVs). They've been using a particular battery supplier for their EVs but need help with supply consistency. Looking for a more reliable supplier, they chose a new battery manufacturer renowned for innovative technology and stable production capabilities.
AutoTech conducts a pilot phase during the switch to assess the new batteries' performance, durability, and efficiency. This trial helps show compatibility issues and ensures the batteries meet their EVs' specific power requirements.
Once they successfully navigate the first challenges and ensure compatibility, AutoTech will scale up production with the new battery supplier. This enables them to meet the increasing demand for EVs while providing reliable and efficient battery performance.
While it can be beneficial to change suppliers, risks are also detailed in the section below.
Risks of Changing Suppliers
Changing suppliers can bring various risks and challenges that manufacturers need to address. Some common risks associated with switching suppliers include:
● Supply Chain Disruptions:
● Quality Control Issues:
● Financial Stability:
● Logistical Challenges:
● Knowledge Transfer:
Manufacturers must conduct thorough checks on potential new suppliers and communicate clearly with old and new ones for a seamless transition.
Reducing Manufacturing Risks
Manufacturing risks can significantly affect the smooth flow of operations and the overall performance of the supply chain. To mitigate risks, manufacturers should focus on the following strategies:
Use Multiple Suppliers:
Investing in Technology:
Switching suppliers poses risks like supply chain disruptions and quality issues. Employing no-code or low-code platforms can aid in managing operations and reducing risks when changing suppliers. Diversifying suppliers also helps spread risk. However, thorough assessment, planning, and communication with old and new suppliers are still crucial for a smooth transition while maintaining quality and production continuity.