Think for a moment about products you use that you consider “high-quality.” It probably won’t take long — quality becomes a part of the identity of the best products. You may have thought of products like your car or mobile device, or maybe a good pair of snow boots or a winter coat that always keeps you warm and dry. These are products on which you rely, appreciate and are probably proud to own.
Now, think of some “low-quality” products in your life — hopefully you don’t have experience with too many, but you can likely come up with a few. You probably consider them to be “cheap,” and not worth your time or money.
In these examples, you likely thought about consumer products, but quality remains critically important no matter what your sector of manufacturing is. Reputation and affinity are just the beginning of why the quality of your products and components is so crucial to your success. Below, we’ll discuss seven reasons why low-quality plastic products can kill your business, but let’s first define where low-quality plastic may be an issue.
As a raw material: Plastic manufacturers may be supplied with low-quality plastic as a raw material (with or without your knowledge).
As a component: If you’re purchasing plastic components for use in a product you manufacture, your supplier may be using low-quality plastic.
The points below will, for the most part, apply to either scenario. We’ll discuss in further detail why and how they can present problems for you.
1. Your reputation as a supplier. Even if you don’t consider your business to have a “brand,” (and many industrial companies today, even those in B2B or commodities sectors, do pay close attention to the management and maintenance of their brand) your reputation as a supplier is still critically important to your success. First, your current customers are unlikely to return if your products are low-quality. Second, word can easily get around about poor quality, especially in the day and age of online reviews, blogs, social media, etc. If a customer is displeased with the quality of your product and chooses to share that online, future prospects may discover those comments during their research process, resulting in lost business for you.
2. Your susceptibility to lawsuits. Safety is one of the primary concerns when discussing poor-quality products. Products or components that fail in the line of operation are the most obvious reason why, presenting a real danger to the user. If poor-quality plastics are used in fields such as biotech, food manufacturing or medical manufacturing, users may also be put at risk in that manner, through unintended interactions with food or in medical scenarios. In addition to potential chemical reactions, contaminants are a concern in those fields. In any of these cases, if poor quality of your product can be identified as the root cause of a safety issue, you become highly exposed to legal liability, which, in many cases, can put you out of business.
3. Decreased sales. A poor reputation can result in decreased sales for your business. Depending on your field, your sales may also decrease if your products have the appearance of low quality (which is typically the case when low-quality materials are used). In consumer settings, for instance, retail buyers as well as the purchasing public are usually able to swiftly identify poor quality. Industrial buyers are also generally able to quickly conduct a “smell test” to gauge a first impression of product quality.
4. Damage to your equipment. If you’re working with low-quality raw materials, contaminants in the material may cause damage to your manufacturing equipment, especially as they affect the physical properties of the material (such as viscosity, melt temperature and other key metrics). Poor-quality finished components also present a risk to your capital investment, especially if they break or fail during assembly and other processes.
5. Increased piece rejection. Low quality doesn’t only manifest itself in the end use of a product. Quite often, poor-quality material will create manufacturing difficulties that lead to more rejected parts. While this is preferable to defective pieces reaching end users, it results in increased production time, which leads into the next point.
6. Higher production costs. Repeated work and longer production cycles due to part rejections are both factors that can make a major impact on your bottom line through higher production costs. In addition to these scenarios, parts produced with poor-quality plastic may require more finishing processes or even repair in order to be useable. The cheaper cost of low-quality material will be more than offset by the additional time and money you spend in these areas.
7. Supply chain inefficiencies. If you discover that a supplier is providing low-quality plastic material or components to you, your best bet is to find a new provider immediately, especially if your initial supplier was deceptive. The sourcing process is, however, time-consuming and potentially costly, especially if it results in production gaps. While higher-quality material is a much better investment for you in the long run, situations where a new supplier must be identified and vetted can be harmful to your bottom line.
How Can You Avoid Problems With Low-Quality Plastic Materials and Products?
First and foremost, you should only intend to purchase materials and components that align with, or exceed, the quality standard to which you hold your products and processes. You can also take several other steps to better ensure that unscrupulous suppliers aren’t misrepresenting their products to you:
- Conduct site visits or otherwise vet your suppliers
- Ask your suppliers for references
- Request full, detailed supply chain information for your supplier’s suppliers
- Conduct your own quality testing when considering a new supplier, as well as upon receipt of material or components from your supplier
By following these steps, you are in a much better position to avoid the damaging problems described in this piece and help your business succeed.