Working with Suppliers: Specs

If you supply a component to an OEM, you’re aware that you have to meet that manufacturer’s specifications for the part, and your employees are trained to and aware of the specs and your processes are controlled to produce good parts. But if you’re outsourcing some of the processes your component undergoes, you need to ensure that your suppliers can meet those specs, too. If your suppliers aren’t aware of or meeting the specs, as the supplier to the OEM, you’re ultimately responsible to the OEM for any penalties which may be incurred—which can be hefty.

As the party with access to the OEM specification, you need to provide it to all of the suppliers you outsource to for this job. If you sell a plastic injection molded component and send it out for surface finishing, you need to supply the spec to the finisher. While your finish supplier will have a general internal spec for part inspection, it may vary from the OEM’s spec. If the supplier’s spec and inspection are not as rigorous as the official spec, they may provide you with parts that are unacceptable to the OEM, resulting in scrap or rework costs, and if the parts make it to the OEM, RMAs and penalty fees. However, if the supplier’s spec is more rigorous, you may still be losing parts and money, because the supplier will be unnecessarily scrapping or reworking acceptable parts.

Not only should you provide your suppliers with the specs that must be met, you should also ensure that all parties clearly understand the specs and that the specs are achievable. Specs are not inherently reader-friendly and are often misunderstood and misinterpreted, which could result in parts not meeting spec or getting rejected by the OEM. Additionally, it’s possible that your supplier is not capable of meeting the spec with their processes. In this case, it is important to determine whether you need to source the process from another supplier, or the spec is truly impossible to meet, and requires a revision or exception from the OEM. (Read more about how reconsidering a spec can save time and money.)

When subcontracting a process for a component, it is crucial that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the exact specifications for the part, especially when your reputation and budget are at stake should things go wrong. Ensure that you communicate the spec with both your customer and supplier at the beginning of a job to keep things running smoothly.

Electro Chemical Finishing has a variety of finish offerings (many of which are automotive OEM-qualified) to help you meet your specs. Contact us today to learn more about how our processes can work for your parts.

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