Vendor Screw ups, Messed up parts.
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    Default Vendor Screw ups, Messed up parts.

    Good afternoon all. So for the last 10 years we have had good luck with most of our vendors, but it seems as 2020 was an exception to the exceptionally good work everyone has done. We have had our anodizer screw up, our phosphate guys screw up, our Cadmium company screwed up and even a material company screw up.

    First the Anodizers. So we brought some parts to them and they were supposed to be standard ano. They came back hard coat anodized which would not be a big deal, but the threads didn't fit any more. So we brought them back and the manager confirmed they were hard coat. They found out who ran the parts and he was sitting on the fork lift on break. Manager said, these got hard coated and they were supposed to be regular. Guy goes, "HUM, they were hard coat last time so I just hard coated them again." (which we have never had these hard coated). The manager showed him our PO, anodize, their work order said regular but the employee just figured he would do hard coat. So they stripped them and re anodized. Stripping hard coat makes them smaller than they started. This was fine for about 50% of the parts. The other 50% didn't gauge right and we ended up scrapping them. They called once our bill for those parts were overdue and I had a bill or 2 for a couple other jobs I had done at the same time. I told him how much we had into the parts when they were screwed up and I assumed that would be the credit. Well he told me that their policy was to credit the job x 2. Basically a $500 job would give you a $500 credit plus the original job would be free. So when you make them again, they will anodize the second batch free I guess. So on our $3500 job they messed up, they were responsible for $500 of it? That does not seem right. I mean, it does not cover the material and labor cost, let alone making the parts again.

    Secondly, the phosphate company had 6000 pcs we shipped up to them. They called me and I nearly had a heart attack when they said they ran into a problem with these parts. This was a $60,000 job that was right on the line of being late. They are usually 2-3 weeks turn around, so we were cutting close but not bad. They told me the parts were no good, but they could redo them and make them right. But since they had already ran them through the process once, they took forever to run them back through again. We ended up turning these in about 2 months late because it took them so long to get them back to us. It was like they would run everyone else's parts before ours because they were already late or something. Got the parts, got the bill, no credit or anything for being so late. At least they did not ruin the parts, but rework should be top priority.

    Third issue of the year, our cadmium / phosphate coater messed up 43 out of 235 pcs. We had a job for 200 PCS and ran a few extra. Shipped them to coating, didn't hear from them for a couple weeks. Called and they acted like they never seen out parts. Then I sent the tracking and the signing person and they magically showed up, but they lost the PO and drawing so they didn't know who's they were. Long story short (and a bunch of excuses) they took a total of 3 months to get back to the shop. He called me the night before they were shipped back to let me know they had messed up some of the parts. Me being a nice guy, its not really that big of a deal, we have 35 extra. Parts came back and they messed up 43 of them. Well, now we do not even have enough for the order so we have to make more. Still got a bill for the job too. They were $33 bucks each which turns out to be like $1400. With a job that cost $650, even if we got the job for free, what do we do about the remaining balance of what it cost?

    Last company, one of our smaller material vendors sent us the wrong plate with the correct cert. We machined the parts from the plate which we thought was correct. Apparently the plate was the wrong grade and they came to find this out after we were done with the parts. They were machined, welded, machined again, heat treated, and had just left for black oxide coating. They found out their mistake and honestly, we would have never known any better if they didn't call us. They said, what could we do to make this right. I told them the entire job was already done and the easiest way would for them to pay for the job and we would just start the job over. They said, no problem, send us an invoice and the original PO from the customer and we will get a check out to you. Few days later, check showed up along with the correct material. I called them to pay for the new material and they said it was free.

    We are not clear of faults either. As a company, we have had an ooopsie her or there. We messed up some parts that have to be loaded in the machine the correct direction. The customer sends us the parts from a casting and we machine them down. They look nearly the same both directions but they are off center by .5mm and shown by an arrow. Basically you have to align the arrow on the part and the arrow on the jig. As much as I explained this to our employee, he put them in random and messed up about half of them. Of course it was over half somehow. Well, the best way for me to seem to do what I thought was right was to purchase the scrap ones from them for what they paid for them, which was about $22 each, plus we charge $8 to cut them. So we ate $1500 on a job that we should have made $400 on. Our customer was happy, I was not happy with our employee, but happy we could resolve it easily.

    UPS, FEDEX, USPS. These guys are the worst. Sorry we lost your package with $5000 worth of parts in it. Did you buy insurance? No I did not buy insurance just in case your guys screw up. Do you have insurance for when your company looses our box?

    Out of the 4 examples, our issue was really only handled correctly by the material company. They went out of their way to make things right and made sure I was completely happy with the way they handled it.

    So now with the wealth of information above, what do you guys do about vendors that mess up your stuff? What do you do for the customer that your company messed up? I have always been the one to make sure the customer is always happy. You never know when their word of mouth could be telling someone how great we did, even though we messed things up. Hopefully they tell someone about the 99 jobs we did great for them.

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    I did not read the whole thing. In all the states I know of through doing business in them and having customers in them a plater is only legally responsible to replace materials, and of course not invoice for bad work. So if your parts took 50 pounds of 6061 to make they owe you $200 or whatever it takes to buy 50# of 6061 aluminum in your neck of the woods. Crediting you any more than that is at their discretion. That will likely be determined by your business volume with them.

    As far as evil shipping companies even if you buy insurance collecting is another issue. UPS always claimed improper packaging was BS and my last USPS claim said I failed to prove value, that was BS also.

    As far as vendors messing up, if they don't make it right take your business elsewhere.

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    The plater not covering the value of your parts is industry standard, unfortunately.

    The whole world is under higher than normal stress levels right now. Budgets and schedules are stretched, workforces are thin, and individual workers are more stressed. This means corners are being cut. My only advice is to try to find suppliers that are weathering it better than others, and to try to develop close working relationships with your suppliers, so that your orders might get a little more attention.

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    I wouldn't sweat how your company is viewed or talked about in light of the relatively small screwups. You completely owned it and made the customer whole which is exactly how I handle these situations. Everyone knows screwups happen, what resonates more is how you handle them. If anything, I'd be more inclined to throw you business because it's obvious this isn't a normal occurrence and I know if any issues crop up in the future you'll take care of it. That's worth a lot in my book.
    Last edited by Rocketdc; 12-04-2021 at 07:40 AM.

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    I dont need to read this.......but all the dummies wanting to buy a machine shop making parts sure should......contrast this with my neighbour who buys farm size cartons of fruit and collects the money at checkout.

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    Count yourself lucky that they paid double.
    My platers only ever gave cost of plating back ie next time is free!

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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    I dont need to read this.......but all the dummies wanting to buy a machine shop making parts sure should......contrast this with my neighbour who buys farm size cartons of fruit and collects the money at checkout.
    Ideally make everything from free cutting stainless with no subsequent anything!

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    Cheapest part I make is twice the material cost. I don't pay to make parts if I make a mistake

    So if I was a plater, I would need to know what the cost of every part that I was plating?

    100 lot charge becomes 10 grand

    No platers cannot be responsible

    Sucks, but otherwise who would be a plater?


    What if those castings you cut were 10 grand?


    Still going to cut them for 8 bucks?

    Not unless you have insurance for it.

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    Outside Finishing vendors are the worst.

    When I receive a RFQ for something that requires an outside vendor, I add a % anticipating trouble...Because sooner or later, it will come.

    What is happening when you accept a job requiring work outside your shop is you are losing control over part of the process. You become a cheap insurance policy for the company that has just contracted your services. They know the potential headaches/losses, and they have pawned the liability off on you.

    Try and average your losses in this dept over a year/or two, and at a minimum add that to any quote requiring outside vendors. Think of it like aspirin for the headaches that are bound to come.

    I've had a plater once ruin the parts, and still invoice for them. Not they will run them again, not we won't charge for our mistake. Just here's your ruined parts, invoice is in the mail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alloy Mcgraw View Post
    I've had a plater once ruin the parts, and still invoice for them. Not they will run them again, not we won't charge for our mistake. Just here's your ruined parts, invoice is in the mail.
    A company in the NE area? It would be good to know who plays that way...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    A company in the NE area? It would be good to know who plays that way...
    Yes, a nickel/chrome only plater in CT.

    The shop manager was an old grumpy prick, I went to war with him a few times...Almost as stubborn as myself.

    He has since retired, thank god. No problems since.

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    Does it make sense to no quote these processes that you have to sub out? Or is it a matter of fact you won't get the job if you don't provide these things like plating etc because the other guy will?

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    Opposite side of the coin.
    What do you do if you are the outside op?
    Say a customer sends you parts and you are to drill a hole or two. Lets say a couple dollars to you on a ten to four hundred dollar piece and fifty or a thousand of them.
    And ,,, oops some bad.
    Are you on the hook for the total part cost up to your point? You are the one who scrapped it.

    I've been on both ends of this and seen all kinds of crazy things and lawsuits.
    For this reason most platers and heat treat guys have a page of fine print on order acceptance that nobody bothers to read.

    UPS and Fedex never a problem for me in 40+ years and many thousands of boxes so I do not insure. One broken box and they called to say they had these things that look like little nuts (SNMG-432s).
    Think about the value of a 20 pound box of CBN or PCD inserts. 10 or 20 grand easy and no insurance.
    My outsource is mostly tool coatings. For sure they have bad runs from time to time.... Then the ask can we strip and recoat.
    Bob

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    I use neither recently, but I strangely had more problems with heat treaters than platers. Losing parts, coming back warped, destroying them in testing instead of using the set-up parts I told them to, etc,etc.

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    For years my intention was to be a one stop shop. The concept was to provide completed parts to the customer which meant all grinding, welding, heat treating, anodizing, plating, painting, etc, etc was sub'ed out by us. That way I kept the customers locked in and didn't risk them shopping elsewhere. Customers liked this.

    In later years I changed my mind on this due to increases in subcontractors ruining parts. I presented the new concept as a way the customers could save money by not having my markup on the various outsourced services. I did give them a list suggesting my most trusted vendors.

    My lawyer added "fine print" to my PO's stating acceptance of my PO made them responsible up to our cost for anything they did that de-valued our parts. That sure weeded out some vendors. I never had to test that fine print, it gives you a good feeling dealing with people who take responsibility for their mistakes.

    Regarding problems with UPS... my customer was a bit paranoid. The value of the fragile parts to be shipped from Seattle to Portland was around $40K. Customer had a UPS rep come out to suggest proper shipping boxes. Boxes were made per UPS specs. Rep came to inspect packed parts prior to shipping. Everything was okay'd . Sure enough UPS broke every part and per usual denied the claim. Denied the claim that is until presented with the paper work from their own rep.

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    I am also not a fan of the concept of "it's late already, we'll put it at the bottom of the queue". When we f something time critical up, we always do our best to get that problem solved first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kb0thn View Post
    I am also not a fan of the concept of "it's late already, we'll put it at the bottom of the queue". When we f something time critical up, we always do our best to get that problem solved first.
    Right on! **** happens, but that doesn't mean oh well. Better luck next time.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by CITIZEN F16 View Post
    I use neither recently, but I strangely had more problems with heat treaters than platers. Losing parts, coming back warped, destroying them in testing instead of using the set-up parts I told them to, etc,etc.
    I seldom see most outside processors scrap parts. Longer turnaround than originally expected? Sure, not uncommon. Scrapping entire orders though? Not really.

    Heat treat is different. I swear man, I tell them to take extra caution to not damage a particular surface, first thing they do after I walk out the door is take out the goddamn ballpeen hammer and start wailing exactly where we can't have it wailed on. Damaged parts, lost parts, cut good parts for sample when there's specifically a tagged piece of material in the lot designated for sample. Shit, even getting parts delivered that are not our parts. Your imagination is pretty much the limit with those guys.

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    I am thankful that most of my customers take care of the plating/coatings themselves. I don't have to worry about it.

    Bill

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    This is a topic that comes up in almost every one of our ISO Audits: What are we doing to manage a "Qualified Vendors" list, and are we tracking vendor performance? We've had some of the same encounters, though thankfully not the same magnitude as you:

    Wrong Steel delivered, but marked as what was ordered with paperwork identifying it as what was ordered, but isn't.
    Screw ups at the Platers requiring stripping & rework.
    Heat Treating problems mucking up entire ejector sleeve jobs.
    Etc.

    The mechanics to managing this are pretty much immutable, but straight forward. As we've found where I work (our preference is for relatively local sources):

    General Rule: Due to limited options we are forced to grant as much leeway as possible to vendors that "screw things up". If it's a repeating problem of high frequency "the boss" may decide to think outside his box and find an alternative . . . somewhere. But until we have a revolving door problem, we work hard with our vendors to keep them within bounds (whatever that means)

    Sometimes this means the boss may drive over to the Vendor and read them the riot act, if the situation warrants it.

    By working with our vendors closely we have a better chance of actually finding out what the issue was, instead of being led astray by he-said, she-said.

    In the end, the physical constraint on all this is the number of available options. If you've got a limited number of options the pressure to work with what you've got is higher.


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