When a sealing company earns new business, they have put in the work to earn that opportunity. They offer the sealing products the customer needs, in a time frame that is acceptable, and at a price that is agreeable for both parties. Over time, the relationship can change and the need to look at other options for existing custom sealing parts can create opportunities, and sometimes anxiety. How does a company know that a change will not cause problems? How can they be sure to properly convey all the needs tied to any given part? What is needed to minimize risk in undergoing a new request for quote?
Seal and Part Drawings and Specifications
If a drawing was created for the seal or part, the drawing can provide a good bedrock for new supplier to build their quote offering. Ideally, the drawing provides all the needed dimensional and material information required to reproduce the part to the current needs of the user. Where this can start to fall apart is through use of proprietary information, either internally at the user, or externally through the current seal supplier. If the incumbent parts supplier used proprietary material specifications or callouts, that can hamstring a new supplier from accurately interpreting the need for the item and either force them to not quote the part at all, or to make assumptions that may or may not be accurate. For any part being offered for quote, a complete drawing, and a material specification tied to independent material standards (such as ASTM, SAE or MIL material specifications) gives the best chance of success.
Sometimes the drawing does not provide enough information to ensure the newly quoted part will perform as intended. There are many circumstances where a drawing will provide enough information to quote an item, but the application parameters provide additional information required to accurately interpret the sealing product's function and specify the correct part materials. For example, a drawing calling for a standard dimensional o-ring size in a Fluorocarbon material with a 75 on the Durometer scale would provide sufficient information for a new supplier to offer a quote. What is not included in that specification is the application temperature range or any compatibility information for fluids the o-ring may contact. Should the application details require a special formulation of Fluorocarbon, the basic information on the print alone would not provide sufficient information to ensure the new seal supplier’s product would function in the application.
Seal or Part Material Sample
Over time, the product provided by an incumbent seal supplier can evolve and change. While many companies work hard to ensure these changes are properly captured and tracked, there are situations where tribal knowledge of the part can create situations where a new part made to print would not function in the application. Perhaps tool wear on the customer’s equipment has caused the original seal supplier to slowly increase their product’s diameter to continue to work in the customer’s aging products. While this may have been communicated between both parties, often these types of agreements and discussions become lost over time and a change can cause a reevaluation of many of the associated custom components. With these types of situations in mind, a sample of the current part can often be used to ensure that the current parts in use are reflective of the prints and specifications. These types of evaluations can point out other potential pitfalls so time isn’t wasted in qualification only to find out the current supplier’s sealing parts no longer meet the prints either.
Communication with the New Seal Supplier is Key
In an ideal world, a print is the final word in establishing the specifications to solicit a new parts quote. Unfortunately, that does not always cover the needs of every situation. The best way to ensure new potential seal supplier’s effectively quote a customer’s business is to be sure all relevant information is conveyed and no critical detail is omitted.