ADMET has been diagnosing the material testing requirement of clients for over 22 years. We thought it might be useful to share some pointers to help you procure the best possible testing system for your needs. We want you to make an effective, informed decision. Great investments start with a little preparation. We’ve listed below some questions that will ensure your team establishes some basic facts and engages with suppliers on your terms.
It’s not possible to analyze your unique situation solely on web sites of suppliers. As you know much of what is found on the internet is biased, bogus or bewildering. It is common place for unscrupulous individuals to pass their organizations off as manufacturers when in reality they do nothing but shop your requirements across multiple low quality foreign sources and provide to you what is most lucrative for them, quality be damned. To ensure that you are not a victim of this or other predatory practices takes a little time, care and patience. Testing systems constitute a significant investment and to get the most out of them requires intelligent conversation with a knowledgeable individual. We can’t successfully buy such systems in the same way that we buy a tarp to cover our wood pile. An open configuration conversation with a reputable supplier should result in a harmonious mutually beneficial implementation. Without this open and frank conversation you are “crossing your fingers” hoping that what you have read on the internet is true. So understand what you really need and don’t compromise!
Be clear on:
- What are you testing?
- What calculations or parameters are you measuring?
- Are there ASTM, ISO, DIN, EIN, JIS or other published specifications you need to meet?
- What is the shape and geometry of the specimen and what are its dimensions?
- What force capacity will be needed to test these specimens?
- Are you presently performing these tests on your specimens? If yes, are you doing the tests in-house or using an outside contractor lab?
- If in-house, are you considering a new system because:
- The number of tests you need to do has increased beyond your present capacity?
- One of your existing machines has failed or does not perform the way you need it to?
- You now have a new testing requirement that can’t be done on your existing machine?
- If you are outsourcing, are you considering bringing it in-house because:
- Cost of outside testing is prohibitive?
- Delay in receiving results is holding up shipments?
- The results from the lab are unsatisfactory?
Life after Implementing the New System
Be clear on the dream you want to achieve. Consider in detail exactly who, when and where this system will impact. Consider scheduling and the environment in which you will be using it. These questions will help:
- If you have not been doing this testing in the past, why is it necessary to do it now?
- Does the solution need to deliver certain specified functionality?
- Is this functionality well defined?
- Could you write a pass/fail test program for this functionality?
- What standards must be met?
- Can the supplier configure a solution to your needs?
- Can they show you previous success stories surrounding this configuration?
- Can you contact references of the supplier immediately before placing the PO?
- Who will be working on this project?
- What training/implementation support is required?
- What is the value to you of having the solution, and therefore what can you justify on the investment?
- What type of support will be required from your supplier?
- When will you need a system up and running and your personnel trained?
Decision Making and Financial Justification
Make life easy for yourself as the internal sponsor. Educate yourself on the process that you will be required to pass to get this investment approved. The process of acquisition is complex and involves numerous points of view, both pro and con. The better you understand the process and the influences, financial, administrative and technical the better the outcome and quality of the decision. The most straightforward is the financial analysis, which is usually analyzed by an ROI (Return On Investment) calculation (see our free download). Note that management welcomes and respects those individuals that can provide an ROI document along with the capital request, it is considered a sign of a professional. Also be careful with competitive comparisons. Remember when the supplier defines the solution it might or might not be in your best interest. Frequently the list is overpopulated with features you will never use or worse, key features are omitted. Take time to define what you need and improve the odds of making a quality decision.
For example these questions will help to line up your investment proposal:
- Does the solution have to meet the requirements of a finance committee? How about the production procurement group? Any other interested party?
- What is the ROI% on the investment?
- Be careful even if the expenditure is in the budget, have you assumed that you are authorized to spend the money?
- What alternatives have been explored and why technically and commercially have you chosen x?
- Why have your investment proposals failed in the past?
- What are the non-financial benefits of the investment?
- Why will our customers benefit from this investment?
By preparing thoroughly, working closely with a professional supplier you will move swiftly to a well-articulated business case with specific requirements and timetable that will be a compelling investment management will want to support. Making great procurement decisions is all about mimicking how you will use the system from day 1. If you like, it’s no different from large acquisitions of companies. All projects start with post acquisition thinking. Be selfish regarding the system that works for you and drive the project towards that goal. World-class suppliers will cherish the opportunity to work with you.