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Thread: Question: Who makes the decision when it comes to choosing the manufacturing process?

  1. #1

    Question: Who makes the decision when it comes to choosing the manufacturing process?

    I'm not an engineer but I am working as a sales/marketing person at a laser machining firm. As I was talking to potential client companies I couldn't help wondering if it was really the CEO or the purchasing manager (who the receptionist passed me on to) who made the decision when it came to deciding whether or not laser versus other forms of component manufacturing (stamping, milling etc) was to be used to make certain parts. It certainly would help me ask for the right person to talk to when I am introducing our firm to a potential client. I think its the engineers in the design dept or the R&D dept that are the real decision makers.

    And what do they look for when it comes to choosing our company or another's? Is it based on the quality of the work or the cost of making it?

    Your feedback would be really helpful to me.

  2. #2
    Technical Fellow
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Hi Debbie, welcome to the forum and you have asked a question that is simple in the asking but the answer can range from simple to complex to impossible.

    Not sure how things are in Finland, but here in the US, in the big companies and Government Departments the Purchasing staff (bean-counters) will make the decision based on a very detailed specification written by the Engineers.

    As the company size decreases the closer the answers (acceptance) of the product will move to the Engineers.

    Also, the smaller the company the more likely the CEO will stick his oar in and muddy things up as well. Often they make decisions the Engineers have to live with. It is foolhardy, hiring and Engineer then over-riding their decision, but that's the way it is.

    The safest thing for you that I can suggest, is to deal with the person who requested the interest from your company for whatever it is you are asked to produce. Going around them to an Engineer will almost always lead to disaster for any bid you submit. I know it sucks and it is stupid, but you are dealing with human nature and that is a weird and often incomprehensible muddy pond of gray-matter.

    "Choosing the company?" Personally I start with the years in the business, especially if it is an expensive purchase. Next I would do some background legwork and ask for referrals to other customers and *not* just satisfied customers. No one is perfect and a 100% satisfaction rate is impossible. Don't care who or what you are making. If you are in business long enough, mistakes will be made. It is how those mistakes are handled and corrected that is *very* important.

    To me, price is a ways down the list unless it is overly expensive or unbelievably low-cost. I would ignore both ends of that spectrum. If you are making an off-the-shelf item then fixed and guaranteed prices is a must. I will not buy from a company that does not have a fixed price list for ready-made stuff.

    If you are making something specific to the customer, then your company needs to do some ballpark costings as I can assure you the requesting company will have done in order to budget for whatever it is you are to supply.

    Can't speak for everyone, but I like to get a good "feeling" about the company I am OKing a major purchase for. I get that feeling based on honesty, openness and genuine commitment to the project when dealing with all members of that company that I get to meet. It's all a matter of trust and that is earned, never assigned.

  3. #3
    Technical Fellow Kelly_Bramble's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Bold Springs, GA
    Quote Originally Posted by d.dutta View Post
    Who makes the decision when it comes to choosing the manufacturing process?
    Manufacturing process selection, which leads to quotes and PO's is driven by the individual part/component/product requirements...

    Before engineering and design staff initiate the design effort they will take a hard look at the applicable material, quantity to be manufactured, costing requirements, quality requirements, functional dimensions and tolerances, time to production, rapid response, tooling as required and a host of other design, manufacturing and business factors.

    Being a competitive supplier, whom delivers on time, at the right price and manufactures to the specifications as provided goes a long way in securing new and repeat customers.

  4. #4
    Lead Engineer RWOLFEJR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Rochester Pennsylvania
    In my humble opinion... when it comes to the larger ticket items like equipment... a purchasing manager isn't going to be who you want to talk to. Yes... should it come time for an actual sale that might be who you will finally end up dealing with, but they're not going to run around the office... or tell all their golfing buddies... "Hey guys... You should see this awesome laser cutting equipment I saw today." It's just not typically in their nature. (Again in my humble opinion...) Usually they are there to make certain the goods needing purchased are bought at the right price and on time. Nothing more. If there's a problem with delivery they'd be on it. If the price goes out of line they'd be all over it. If parts or equipment don't meet desired results then somebody else will go to purchasing and tell them about it and sick them on you.

    I look at the purchasing guys as a sort of call screening device when it comes to pitching a product. They are a hurdle for sure. (My humble apologies to any purchasing folks out there... I'm just not a big fan of the arena and don't appreciate it when our sales has to deal with a person who is clueless as to what they are buying or what it needs to accomplish, which is so often the case.)

    If you're selling nuts and bolts or base materials that are easily priced then sure... you want the purchasing manager. But you're selling machinery so you need to get to whoever has some say in the equipment and production process and capablilties of the place. Titles will depend on the size of the organization.

    Yes if they come to you... you deal with whoever it is that came asking... but if you're on the hunt... and selling equipment... myself, I'd try to dodge the purchasing folks. If they did come to you then you might ask them if they feel that there are any others in the plant that they'd like you to show your wares to etc.

    Good luck...!!

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