1. Evaluate supplier solutions based on whole life costs
You need to ensure you’re getting the best value over the full lifecycle of your products. Buy cheap, buy twice, as they say.
2. Put emphasis on engineering capability
Evaluate the track record of your supplier closely. With ports and terminals becoming increasingly complex to accommodate the demands of modern vessels, it’s essential your supplier can demonstrate engineering experience and expertise that aligns with the needs of your project.
3. Consult shortlisted suppliers early in the project development
The earlier you consult suppliers, the more tailored your solution can be. Consult your suppliers at the conceptual design stage to ensure you get the bespoke package that really fits your requirements and guarantees optimum performance.
4. Insist on dealing with technical engineers as well as sales / bus dev personnel
If you don’t feel completely assured of your supplier’s technical expertise, determine their credentials by asking to deal with technical engineers. Your point of contact in the sales or business development team should be able to facilitate a discussion or find you the answers you need.
5. Inspect the suppliers facilities in person
If your supplier can’t give you access to their manufacturing facilities, alarm bells should be ringing. Furthermore, you’re entitled to witness the testing procedures your products undergo. Get the reassurance you need to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.
6. Ask to witness testing
Your supplier should be able to offer you the opportunity to witness materials or full scale testing: ask for it. Don’t let your supplier get off easy by just handing you the paperwork.
7. Explore suppliers’ track record
A robust track record should give you some confidence, but make sure your supplier has experience in your application. A full track record should come as standard: expect it.
8. Demand samples and check certification of materials and processes
When specifying fenders, ask for a sample of the rubber compound that will be used in your project. Three key factors – velocity factor, temperature factor and longevity are affected by rubber grade and compound formulation. The properties of fenders vary dramatically depending on their composition, as such; rubber compound composition should be built into specifications in order to guarantee performance and lifecycle.
9. Get the training you and your people need
Your relationship with your supplier shouldn’t end at installation. Demand maintenance and operational training to ensure you optimise performance in the field.
10. Ask about aftersales service
Full after sales support should be considered as part of your supplier’s offer. Not only should they be able to supply product training, spare parts and servicing should be available to you on demand, no matter where you are in the world.