Do they know the whole manufacturing ecosystem and supply chain intimately, and can you can trust them to help you navigate it?
It’s busy out there, with hundreds upon hundreds of valve suppliers and manufacturers, so finding your way around this saturated market to identify the partner and the best solutions for your needs can be as daunting as it is exhausting.There are plenty of valve suppliers who talk a good game, but on closer inspection many are what my colleague Richard Griffin, Sales Director at HSP, refers to as “post-box sellers”. In other words, they just act as a glorified messenger service between end-user and manufacturer (whose IP they’re using). They have no real understanding of the intricacies of the end-user’s requirements or the products they’re selling. So they have very little to contribute and next-to-no value to add for end-user or manufacturer.
Can they manage risk from one end of the supply chain to the other?
If you’re not managing risk then you’re not managing effectively. So ask your valve partner how they approach risk management. Do they have the knowledge and experience to predict what the risks are, and where and when in the supply chain they might appear? At HSP, we view risk as a continuum, with the potential to show up anywhere, at any time. This includes in the obvious places, such as in the specification, materials and manufacturing processes, but also in the often overlooked areas such as fasteners and coatings.
Do they understand your specific requirements, and can they ensure you accurately define and specify them up-front – no matter how complex your project?
In our experience, defining and specifying requirements is a team endeavour that involves a cornucopia of different brains with different expertise working together. That’s why we’ve invested in developing our in-house capability to create a team that includes, amongst other things, engineering and project managers, designers, metallurgists, document control and logistics specialists, because each has an important contribution to make during the process.It’s also what many past and present customers tell us they like about working with HSP: having a team of in-house specialists on hand means they receive a responsive, joined-up service, with no weak links or “skills gaps” compared to a contracted-out team.
Can they inspect, verify, and validate products and solutions along the way?
This is essential to ensure all products from the manufacturer comply with how they were originally specified by the end-user. It’s amazing how few valve suppliers can provide this level of quality assurance and project reassurance. So it’s worth asking about a valve supplier’s compliance processes. Any holes here will, no doubt, be amplified later on, resulting in more frustrating and costly project delays.
Are you confident in their abilities? And, just as important, do they have a proven track record in delivering X, Y or Z?
The whole point of using a valve supplier is to tap into the specialist market and product know-how and skills you don’t have in-house. Put another way, a valve supplier is there to de-risk the whole process for end-users by matching their needs with the right valve manufacturer or supplier. So look for testimonials, speak to current and past customers, and ask for relevant case studies. If they can’t provide these things, it’s worth asking why.