Raw Material Supplier Approval (Inks, Resin, Masterbatch etc)

neash83

Starting to get Involved
#1
Hello,

I work for a company which manufactures plastic tableware.

I was curious to know how other people manage the supplier approval process for raw materials such as resin (largely polypropylene), inks and masterbatch.

For components items we carry out the more traditional Quality Audit looking at the end to end process. However for the raw materials we haven't tended to do this, as there isn't a great deal to look at for the manufacture of inks for example (also we aren't particularly qualified to comment on the manufacturing processes of inks and PP).

Does anybody purchase similar raw materials and if so how do you go about approving these suppliers?

Also note that after a raw material has been "approved", we do then qualify the material, but consider this to be material approval and not supplier approval.

Thanks
 
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ncwalker

Trusted Information Resource
#2
There's aspects of the PPAP manuals that talk about "bulk materials."

The raw material depends on if it is registered or not. If the plastic is registered and has a registered formula with a controlling body like, for example, a steel does, your supplier supplies to this formula. And should be sending you some certification that he is compliant with the chemistry. In extreme cases, there will be a heat or a batch code and that material is not shipped until the customer releases it. This code is traceability maintained through the entire process.

Anyway, that's how all the raw material is dealt with from what I see.

Now - on to certifying the supplier. The question being - how does a raw material supplier get on an "approved" list.

1) Your company MAY have a supplier assessment of some sort. Even if you don't get "ink making" you could go there and see general quality concepts. These assessments are general in nature. Sometimes, if the material is important to you, there is a targeted audit as well. Sometimes this is available via an outside organization, like the AIAG. You can conduct these audits and certify the supplier.

2) You can also record/trend the data of the product he is giving you. All the chemicals, the key chemicals, something. Make a supplier scorecard. Certification comes from performance against this scorecard which usually measures cost, quality, delivery.

3) You can do both.

Reality I have observed, my experience is very much proximity to the final customer. If the raw material supplier is 3 or 4 tiers down, they get zero attention. With suppliers basically sending in certifications reports that get stored in a drawer. Closer to the OEMs and more questions get asked. But most are like "Does the guy have a TS cert?"

I actually find the whole thing a little strange. If you talk dimensions, the supply chains in general have an attitude of "this supplier is going to trick me somehow on his dimensions" and a climate of mistrust. But in the material specification world, it's like it's never questioned. What's strange to me is the reaction. Slogging through parts finding bad dimensions is ridiculously easier than slogging though parts looking for a material chemistry issue. It's like the customers only care about things they can check.
 

Ninja

Looking for Reality
Trusted Information Resource
#3
I actually find the whole thing a little strange. If you talk dimensions, the supply chains in general have an attitude of "this supplier is going to trick me somehow on his dimensions" and a climate of mistrust. But in the material specification world, it's like it's never questioned. What's strange to me is the reaction. Slogging through parts finding bad dimensions is ridiculously easier than slogging though parts looking for a material chemistry issue.

It's like the customers only care about things they can check.
There may indeed be some of that, but there is also the element of cost...in this case broken into to primary buckets:

1. only care about what can be checked quick and cheap
2. only care about things you can affect

In Bulk materials, most customers don't buy enough to be able to get a bulk supplier to listen. Bulk is pretty darned big...bigger than automotive.
Someone buying tank cars a day may not have much pull with a company selling tank ships an hour. Just because it seems big, does not mean it is relevant to all.

Especially in polymer chemistry...you can get formula by things like ICP or gas MS...but the right formula doesn't mean the right polymer...and it may simply be cost prohibitive to chase that chain....especially when you've bought from years from the supplier without issue.

What I see (working in the paste industry) is trust until you get burned, then lot by lot use test from then on. An issue with bulk chemical supply is not something you can typically fix from a customer perspective...and is rarely something you can even complain about unless you are a tons per week customer. (and if you "fix it" your price will likely go up)
 

Golfman25

Trusted Information Resource
#4
Most plastic resin is a trademarked brand -- ie; Dow chemical -- sold by distributors. Not really much to check there. A cert that the material is what it is should be enough. Even if it is generic, you can get a cert. Other than that, you can see if they have an ISO cert, do a quick survey and/or visit. But I think you need to determine how critical they are and go from there.
 
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