Unfortunately, the times where there was a handy man on every corner of the street who could always help us out with his manual machinery to create spare parts are long gone. Machine components are becoming more complex, more precise and have been manufactured with exotic materials with possible post-processing. For that reason, the handy men on the corner of the street are almost extinct.
It seems logical to simply recommend purchasing original parts directly from the machine manufacturer, and in most cases, this is the ideal solution. However, there are a couple of things to consider. The machine manufacturer might abuse their monopoly position by extremely increasing the profits they make on spare parts. It has become a separate industry that takes out quite a large chunk of our maintenance budget. Think for instance about the expensive cartridges for our economy printer. Another issue might be that the supplier is no longer in service or has been taken over by a competitor, who for that reason doesn’t want to or simply has no access to spare parts anymore.
Therefore, we need to rely on third parties to help us. In my entire 35-year career, I have never encountered a company that doesn’t struggle with this. It is a challenge to provide a structured solution to this issue.
First and foremost, we need to determine the criticality of the machine and the spare parts that could have caused it. We determine the impact of the failure, multiplied by the failure probability. That enables us to draw up a ‘critical spare parts list’.
Now select the manufactured parts out of this list. These are usually parts that can only be delivered by the manufacturer of the machine. With this list, there are a number of possible scenarios.
- External supplier
With a construction drawing of the corresponding part in the technical documentation, we can start looking for a supplier that delivers the best price-quality ratio. Make sure that all tolerances, level of finishing, materials and post-processing are defined. Check the impact level of the component to the proper and safe functioning of the machine, to avoid any CE- or warranty issues.
- Scan technology
When there’s a spare part in the warehouse, the key is to recreate it exactly. The part can be measured using scan technology; however, this does not provide any information with regard to dimensional, positional and shape tolerances, materials and post-processing. To have this information, we need the support of a mechanical engineer who can determine these data using applications and the components this part is to be integrated in. They can also help determine the material used and the post-processing procedure. This will eventually lead to the situation described in point 1.
- No original part
What is unfortunately most often the case is that a defective or worn-down part needs to be replaced (urgently). The procedure described above applies, apart from being able to start from the measured values; certain measurements will be outside specifications due to wear. The mechanical engineer will be able to give the required support, which will eventually also lead to the situation described in point 1.
- Partners with the best price-quality ratio
The three scenarios described above lead to a list of critical spare parts with corresponding construction drawings. Now, we can start our search for partners that are able to produce these manufactured parts at the best price-quality ratio. We do not recommend this exercise to anyone without the required experience. You need to be able to assess which suppliers have the required skills with certain materials, accuracies, post-processing, etc. On the other hand, you need to be able to assess whether their machine fleet is able to cope with the requested dimensions and quantities. You can’t simply trust that companies that take on certain jobs don’t outsource themselves – which is often the case, unfortunately. This means they lose all control over the process and the warranty on quality. This too requires experience and technical knowledge to find the right partners to produce your manufactured parts.
Is your company considering the exercise described in this blog and do you feel you could use some assistance? Then Menthor BV is the right partner for you, with years of experience in machine criticality and the corresponding spare parts. Moreover, we have the mechanical engineers to draw well-founded construction drawings of the manufactured parts. The search for the right partner to produce your manufactured parts is a business that requires experience and knowhow. Therefore, Menthor BV has partnered with HebyParts, with over 40 years of experience in outsourcing the production of manufactured parts. They even take this search worldwide.