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The Importance of Supplier Development

On Sep 28, 2020

A great supplier is critical for project success. Suppliers also bring other key values to a project such as trust, honesty, and commitment to their customers. That is why at Ball Systems we feel that it is very important to have all our suppliers go through our Supplier Pre-Qualification process.

A great supplier must be good at the following: Cost, Lead Time, Reliability (on time delivery) and must deliver quality parts. Supplier Development is the process of working with our supplier on a one on one basis to improve their performance for the benefit of the company. Outlined below are some of the key reasons to qualify suppliers and some insight into our process. Cost, Quality, Time Triange
Why Supplier Qualification is important:

  1. Ensures Quality – We focus on making sure our customers get the highest quality parts that will help solve their challenges.
  2. Company Financial Insight – Looking at a company’s payment history helps to determine if suppliers will pay their bills on time.
  3.  Delivery & Lead Time – Ensures that we can get the final product to our customer in the time
  4. Materials Cost – We treat customers’ money as our own and respect their budgets

At Ball Systems, we also feel it is important to have a deep bench of suppliers to choose from to ensure we always have multiple options who are already know to us and to also ensure we always receive competitive pricing. When we receive an inquiry from a potential supplier and at the surface it appears they may fit our needs, they are added into a database of potential suppliers for future consideration. We constantly evaluate our supplier database to ensure we have a good stable of approved vendors as well as a solid list of prospects. When we feel we need to add a new supplier to the approved vendor list (AVL) we will review our database and select a supplier to receive a quote for the specific parts we need. Simultaneously, we will then send the prequalification form to begin that process of evaluation prior to adding them to our system. Various aspects of their business history and capabilities are then evaluated by our team for possible addition to the AVL.

We are also continuously monitoring our existing suppliers on pricing, on-time delivery, and quality of parts. If we experience issues with our current suppliers, we input the complaint into our supplier complaint registry. Suppliers are also required to complete corrective Non-Conformance Reports (NCRs) to confirm the issue, and have them document both corrective and preventative actions to eliminate the potential for recurrence. We notify the supplier about the entry, and we let them know that if they reach 3 complaints then our management team will review and decide what action needs to be taken. Suppliers could then be removed from our approved supplier database.
Blue boxes with arrows and text representing the supplier development process
When selecting a new supplier – Ball Systems usually will choose the supplier with the lowest price but in some cases Ball Systems will choose a better lead time over the price if the project is HOT.

If we want to work with a new supplier, we must follow the following steps before placing an order. The qualification process does not begin until we have a PO from our customer. So, if our team is just quoting, we can reach out to new suppliers before they are “qualified”.

  1. Received a PO from Customer – Customer sends Purchase Order to Ball Systems for the product we quoted. PO gets entered by Orders entry team.
  2. New Supplier form – We provide our own Pre-Qual form to new suppliers. This includes checking for quality certificates such as ISO and CSIA, trade references, return policies, NDAs, various certs & reps, and other general company information.
  3. Request a Credit Application – Once credit application is received; our accounting department fills out and sends it back along with any additional information requested by supplier. We generally like to have Net30 terms before placing the PO for the product.
  4. Once Pre-Qual forms are completed, we send them to management to review and approve a new supplier.
  5. Once the supplier is approved, we can then add to our database and send over the PO.

There are some circumstances where waiting for a supplier to complete requested forms is inefficient. In cases where the project timeline is rushed or the lead time of the product prolonged, we have a system in place where managers can approve a onetime purchase prior to the forms being filled out.

Establishing a supplier qualification process is beneficial for your team to ensure that your project stays on budget, meets your deadline and satisfies your customer. Currently we have solid process in place for supplier development, but we are ready to adapt it in the future to best serve our customers and the industry.

Contact us today to see how we can help you with your toughest engineering challenges.

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