Why You Need Suppliers to Improve Your Maintenance Approach
We tend to think of supplier relationships as a simple exchange of goods. Manufacturers buy parts and components; suppliers supply them. If there’s an issue, the transaction happens in reverse. But there’s so much more to a supplier partnership than the exchange of goods. What many manufacturers don’t realize is that their supplier offers a wealth of knowledge to help them improve their maintenance approach.
More than supplies
Consider what your supplier offers outside of the products they supply. They’re a direct link between your business and the industry at large. They know what’s going on with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). They’ve got a grip on industry news and trends. They’re an authority on the products and supplies they offer.
Treating a supplier as a resource for products is an injustice to everything else they provide. Instead, manufacturers need to realize the untapped potential of suppliers as a resource for information. When they do, they’ll understand the power of a strong supplier relationship.
What can a supplier offer outside of products?
Think about your maintenance approach and your goals for improving it. They likely revolve around broad concepts such as lowering costs, managing inventory better, improving machine and component life, and maximizing equipment ROI. What you might not realize is the direct relationship your suppliers have in helping you meet those goals.
Improving supplier relationships unlocks valuable potential. Consider some of the ways suppliers affect these goals:
- Strong supplier partnerships can help you lower costs and control your balance sheet better. This includes everything from reducing static in-house inventory to securing the best possible pricing on parts and components.
- Recommendations from a knowledgeable supplier can optimize the types of parts you’re using or how you’re utilizing them. This may equate to everything from lower cost to better part performance and ROI.
- Suppliers may provide access to better equipment based on their evolving access to products from OEMs. A strong partnership could mean passing these innovations on to you for the benefit of your operations.
- A reputable supplier will quickly alert you to any notices of defects and recalls, saving you the larger problem of a malfunction and subsequent remediation in the future.
- A positive relationship with your supplier can lead to preferential supply treatment. This may take the form of quicker fulfillment, on-demand ordering, or supplier-held inventory for your factory.
These benefits exist for every manufacturer taking the time to cultivate a positive supplier relationship. When you see a supplier as more than just a parts and components provider, you can begin to align the relationship with your greater internal goals. Maintaining friendly communication, recurring business, and a personable relationship show your supplier there’s more to the relationship than accounts payable/receivable.
More than just vendors
When you stop thinking of your suppliers as just vendors and start seeing them as partners in your manufacturing operations, you’ll also see the comprehensive value they offer. Treating them as a valuable asset instead of a replaceable vendor confirms your commitment and shows them you see the value in their partnership. That trust is rewarded in the improvements a quality supplier brings to your operations.