General Manager of leading Australasian supplier of seals and gaskets, CSGtech , Mr Paul Sly stresses the importance of quality governance when sourcing from China.
A manufacturing component specialist himself, Mr Paul Sly says that even minute quality control problems can have big consequences for manufacturers serving demanding markets. For instance, the failure of the tiniest, comparatively inexpensive O-ring, gasket, seal or machined part can result in recalls and refunds, also leading to ruptured business relationships founded on total quality control and the highest safety standards.
According to Mr Sly, the issue of quality governance is magnified by distance from suppliers. When sourcing from China as so many Australian manufacturers do, being unaware of what causes even small quality variations can be devastating.
CSGtech works closely with manufacturers and end-users to source suitable and cost effective products available in Asia in general and China in particular, where it has its own staff overseeing quality control in different production plants. It is currently opening an office in China to provide even closer supervision of the quality focus and governance required for doing business in China.
Mr Sly explains the dynamics of sourcing from China. The initial batches of product would be exactly to spec, but as time moves on, these initial standards can change for reasons non-Chinese customers don’t understand.
One of the big reasons for quality and product variations is that Chinese suppliers generally are great at dealing with huge quantities of production for big orders where margins of a few cents are critical. They have to be flexible and responsive to cost in such a vast commodity market and will change suppliers accordingly. In the event a supplier substitutes something different and just a fraction cheaper, but something that ultimately doesn’t work when it arrives Down Under, the situation gets ugly.
Mr Sly cites the case of a manufacturer of plumbing products, who bought components from China worth about $30 of the input into a product of an eventual retail price of $300. His supplier substituted a different type of O-ring to save a few cents, destroying totally the value of a container load of the product sitting on his doorstep worth tens of thousands of dollars, while having to deal with customers complaining about product failure.
Though the manufacturer was very quick to sort out the issue through his representative in China, this sort of situation can potentially destroy relationships right down the market chain, not to mention the legal and safety issues. According to Mr Sly, the manufacturer has to properly manage the whole selection, acquisition and quality assurance process from factory floor to customer’s door.
CSGtech has shown its own commitment to national and global standards of quality assurance processes by gaining ISO 9001: 2008 Quality Management Systems – Requirements certification.
ISO 9001 certification is invaluable to customers in demonstrating that the organisation involved can consistently provide quality processes that meet the requirements of customers and of any applicable regulations relating to them, says Mr Sly, whose company sources componentry for manufacturers and end-users serving industries such as construction and engineering, mining and energy, oil and gas, manufacturing and materials handling, transport and automotive, medical, defence and marine.
CSGtech products include:
- Gaskets and O-rings in all materials and sizes
- Castings, including high pressure, gravity and sand
- Silicone products, including extrusion and moulding
- Machining and stamping, including fasteners and custom work
- Extrusions, including plastic and rubber
- Mouldings, including rubber, plastics and custom
- Plastic shim from 0.25-1.5mm
- Viton and Teflon custom work
However, he also warns that sourcing from China is a case where the devil is in the detail: the manufacturer needs to invest proper time and effort in understanding the market and having in place the highest standards of quality control.