Does your supplier partner need an overhaul?

<i>Do you ever consider regular maintenance of your supplier partnership?</i>
Do you ever consider regular maintenance of your supplier partnership?
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Regular maintenance of your machinery is something you do almost automatically. You know it’s the best way to keep things performing productively and efficiently, and that it’s a false economy to try and cut corners. But do you ever consider regular maintenance of your supplier partnership? Just like servicing of your machinery, it could pay dividends.

If your supplier does no more than reactively supply parts, perhaps it’s time you either gave them a good overhaul to get the best out of them, or replaced them with an updated version that supplies real added value: proactively working with you not just to keep you in parts at competitive prices, but to identify and create real cost savings across their whole area of expertise.

That kind of service should never be just a one-off exercise. Instead, it should be a way of life for your partner and your organisation, to find potential savings and productivity enhancements on an ongoing basis, and continually implement them to help make your business ever-more efficient, productive, cost-effective and profitable.

After all, a reputable supplier partner will have a huge breadth and depth of expertise and experience gathered from within your industry and from other industry sectors, which they should be able to bring to bear to meet your specific challenges and solve your particular problems. They should also have a comprehensive resource in the shape of technically based service professionals, who can work with you to identify operational savings, reliability improvements and productivity enhancements, and help you prove their viability before helping you put them into practice using whatever people, technology and tools are required.

Who profits?
Of course, there is always the danger that a partner will see this as a way of creating business for themselves rather than making savings for you. If your supplier partner has limited capabilities – only able to provide replacement machinery for an asset which is under-performing, for example – then there is a strong temptation for them to propose replacement as the most viable solution. However, a supplier with more than one string to their bow – able to replace, repair, or simply manage the problem until a planned shut-down is due – will be able to provide you with a truly solution-neutral resolution which you can be sure will genuinely be the best option for your situation.

The process should begin with consultation: reviewing your existing high-risk, performance-critical areas to identify and prioritise potential savings or investment opportunities. This should then be followed with recommendations for implementation, with an indication of whether they are short- or medium-term priorities. Once these have been established, your supplier should be able to bring in their own engineers to work – with your teams or independently – to a mutually agreed action plan, to repair or manage the problem, or replace, install and commission the replacement equipment required.

Continuing support – and savings
When the project has been completed that shouldn’t be the end of your supplier’s involvement. They should be willing and able to provide on-going support from technical specialists, ranging from reliability review meetings to best practice advice, designed to ensure the continued smooth running of your assets. This should form an ever evolving process to identify new opportunities for savings and improvements, the kind of continual practice illustrated above.

ERIKS Technical Services has been providing this kind of in-depth, comprehensive, on-going support to customers across numerous industry sectors for many years – and has extensive case studies to prove the effectiveness of the approach.

For example, Torbay Hospital was paying an average of £250 a week to have oil-contaminated water removed from an area around oil storage tanks. Any overflow of the water would have resulted in heavy fines for non-compliance with tighter new regulations prohibiting discharge of oil-contaminated water into drains. The hospital highlighted this risk to ERIKS and explained about the weekly removal by tankers of the contaminated water.

ERIKS technical specialists proposed a number of solutions with the technical team at the hospital, reviewed the costs and benefits to recommend the supply and install a new filtration system, which is not only fully compliant with the new regulations, but also costs just £40 a month for replacement filter elements. The solution utilised the existing sump pump, with a new filter cartridge to remove sediments and protect the Mycelx filter cartridge. The result was payback in just two months, elimination of the risk of fines for water contamination, and a total saving of around £1,000 a month.

Time for replacement?
The savings were even larger for a company in the Food and Beverage sector, who where unaware of the cost of air leaks in its compressed air systems. Many of these leaks were undetectable without ultrasonic technology, which is what ERIKS identified and recommended to be applied to the task.The resulting comprehensive survey by the ERIKS Condition Monitoring team was completed in just two days, with no disruption to production. Even the most unobtrusive leaks were detected quickly and easily, and the survey data compiled and presented as an actual financial loss related to each leak, using an accurate, proven formula developed by ERIKS. The report also recommended corrective actions and cost summaries. As a result of the customer and ERIKS working together to action the findings, savings of £86,000 a year were achieved – even though the factory’s compressed air installation was regularly maintained and in reasonable condition.

Unless your supplier partner offers you this kind of comprehensive service, with the potential for these kinds of savings, perhaps it isn’t your machinery that needs attention. It could be your supplier who needs looking at.

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