Use Quality Parts and Reap the Benefits
Often, manufacturing is a game of cost control. Where can you trim money from the process to improve margins or lower cash flow burdens? It’s a difficult game to play, and too often cost control turns into cost-cutting — specifically when it comes to parts and components. Shifting to a broad lubricant solution or buying bulk aftermarket fasteners at a lower cost may save the company millions each year. But are these savings worth it? Experienced factory managers will tell you they’re a recipe for higher costs, rather than lower.
The old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ goes a long way when talking about machinery parts and components. Buying off-brand at the cost of a few cents less may turn into thousands of dollars in avoidable repairs down the line, as well as costs accrued from extra man-hours and shorter machine life. Let’s look at two practical examples of how paying more for quality equates to better cost control, as opposed to cost cutting.
Case study: Lubrication
You have four machines, each with different lubricant standards. The variance between lubricant viscosities is nominal. Objectively, it makes sense to choose a baseline lubricant and order in bulk. Not only does this eliminate three purchasing actions, it consolidates costs. But this idea only works on paper. What you’re not considering are broad ramifications of each unique lubricant.
Lubricant A is specially treated for high-heat protection. Lubricant B has additives to protect against moisture. And so on — to the point where each lubricant’s properties specifically benefit each machine. Taking these away in favor of a baseline lubricant that may or may not contain these properties directly impacts machine function and performance. Machine 1’s efficiency drops to 376 cycles, from 395. Machine 2 now requires degreasing after every lubrication, instead of every third. And so on. These inefficiencies creep into the process to generate added cost, with opportunities for more problems.
Case study: Fasteners
Right now, you pay $1.92 for OEM flange bolts. You decide to switch to an aftermarket supplier to get a price of $1.42. The difference in cost per bolt will save your company $10,000 this year! The only difference between the bolts is the chromium content per bolt — the cheaper bolts have 18% chromium instead of 24%. Again, the cost savings seems to justify the switch.
What you might not realize is that the OEM bolts with 24% chromium are designed to stand up to a specific degree of ultrasonic vibration. The aftermarket bolts aren’t — due to their lower chromium content. These bolts may experience failures such as shearing, where the OEM bolts would not. You may not realize this until a couple of bolts fail, resulting in $18,000 in equipment damage. Your cost savings are instantly erased.
An investment in quality counts
Lubricants and flange bolts are just two examples of where quality counts much more than cost. From the equipment your techs use to the consumables that keep your machines running, this isn’t the place to cut costs. In fact, paying more for quality is the better cost control practice! And, in the spirit of another cherished adage, ‘quality doesn’t often come cheap.’