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An Insider’s Checklist for Selecting a Project Partner

In today’s market where transparency, tracking and validation are more important than ever – ensuring that your fluid handling supplier is with you for the long haul makes selecting the right vendor essential. Whether the development is an application prototype or a full-scale legacy device, choosing a company that will be around for the life cycle of the project can be made simpler by proper vetting and evaluating of these qualifications.

Applications Expertise: Does the supplier have local, knowledgeable, subject material experts who understand the application?  For an OEM who has limited time and money, the vendor truly must have all three.  Most OEMs can’t afford to wait for technical experts to come back from vacation, manage time zone changes, or deal with salespeople who don’t have the technical expertise or desire to answer project questions on the spot.

Manufacturing & Product Development Engineering Talent:  Is the supplier considered world class in both manufacturing and product design?  This is a binary question.  Simply put, OEMs can’t afford for instruments or medical devices to fail in the field.  There is zero room for error.  Diagnostic tests can’t work 90% of the time and medical devices can’t fail 5% of the time.  The valve, pump, manifold, sensor or whatever it may be has to work and has to work every time.  The integrity of your brand as well as the future of your company demand perfection in the quality and robustness of every product used in the solution.  If you are working with a market leader, you should see that company investing in new factories, hiring people, buying companies, and expanding their portfolio strategy. Developers need to work with vendors that continually invest in their own R&D as well.

Commercial Ethics:  Does the supplier understand, agree to, and meet budgetary estimates?  It happens time and time again – the project goes through validation, testing, and onto production. The vendor’s product is an essential part of the solution.  When it comes time to place blanket POs, the supplier raises the price knowing you can’t change.

Global Supply Chain:  Is the product available off-the-shelf locally in your country?  The answer should always be yes.  OEMs can never do iteration and DFX if they can’t try multiple parts until they have dialed in the right valve based on pressure, temperature, material of compatibility, and dead volume.  It is far too common to see an OEM struggle because they have locked-in on a valve that doesn’t fully meet their application.

“You get what you pay for”. There really are plenty of ‘good’ fluidic suppliers out there, but many ‘bad’ project partner decisions come down to a single topic: price. There is no loyalty, no partnership, and often plenty of personnel turn over involved in the decisions that come down to price. Eventually that business which used to be a priority at the beginning is taken for granted.