Want to lower your metal costs? Clarify your quality requirements

For most manufacturers, metal costs comprise a huge percentage of their overall expenditures, so it makes sense to set pricing parameters as early as possible. What many buyers fail to realize, however, is that setting quality parameters is equally important—if not more critical.

There are countless issues that can arise when you miss the mark on quality. For one, you could end up pushing the capacity of your material, resulting in problems like corrosion or faster-than-usual wear down the road. Not only will this lead to unsatisfied customers—and potentially damage your reputation—but if that product is under warranty, the money you saved upfront could simply be deferred as you’re required to replace the product at a later date. On the flip side, without a clear understanding of your quality requirements, you could end up spending a significant sum of money on a particular material, when a less-expensive option could have sufficed.

To avoid either of these outcomes, it’s important to clearly define your quality standards, like your financial parameters, before sourcing your material.


Why is it important to define quality parameters?

Too often, procurement departments assume that by providing a list of specifications to a Service Center or supplier, they’ll be able to provide the necessary quality metal. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

This is because the metal quality a project requires depends on a wide range of factors. For instance, consider the example of a company that was contracted to build playgrounds. The company was looking for an aluminum tread plate—similar to the type you’d find on the steps of fire trucks. While the company knew it wanted a brightly-colored plate, it didn’t specify the metal hardness.

While the metal treads were perfect for a playground aesthetically, the metal the company chose was too soft for the high-traffic application. As a result, it ended up with an incredible wear problem, a dissatisfied customer and a lot of extra work replacing the treads.

In this example, the customer received a high-quality product, but because it didn’t tell its Service Center what the metal would be used for, it ended up with something that wasn’t well-suited to the application.


The elements of a quality system

To make sure you’re getting the appropriate-quality product for the best price, it’s wise to discuss your project with your Service Center and strive to provide them with the maximum amount of information possible. So, in addition to project specifications—like metal grade, quantity, size, shape, color, metal hardness—you may also want discuss things like the product’s application.

When your Service Center understands how a product will be used, it can raise questions you may not have considered. For instance, your standard specifications may not indicate that you plan to use a piece of metal as a decorative component—which would require a particular finish.

In a similar vein, while a certain protective coating might make sense in one application, it could cause product damage in another. Or you may not have the receiving capacity to unload a heavy, large skid and need the product packaged in a different way.


Advice, when you need it

To get the most of your Service Center’s offerings, it’s important to see them as an extension of your internal team—and provide as much information as possible in regard to your metal order. The more tools they have to work with, the better advice they’ll be able to dispense, and the more money you’ll end up saving down the road.

To learn more about how Samuel can add value to your procurement processes, contact us.