The Importance of a Strong Purchasing Department

For Acme Manufacturing to build a robotic material removal or surface finishing system for a client, it can take anywhere from 6,000 to 15,000 individual parts! The management of ensuring those parts arrive in the correct quantity and quality is a larger task than one might think. This article takes you behind the scenes at Acme Manufacturing to get an inside look at what happens after a turnkey robotic system is purchased.

A project begins when our purchasing department is sent an engineering release which consists of a request from our engineering department, stating which parts are needed to build an Acme system for a client.

supply chain manager 1 with radius“Every bolt, screw, washer, every little thing that you could think of is taken into consideration and put into the system, to which everyone on the project initially has access.” Said Leza Cacaj, Acme’s Supply Chain Manager.

Once Leza and her team have determined which of the needed parts are not stocked in inventory, her next step is to determine from which vendors to order those parts.

Acme uses over 100 suppliers in countries that include Canada, Japan, Italy, Germany, and domestically in the United States. Said Leza, “We evaluate our suppliers throughout the year and develop supplier scorecards, this helps ensure our suppliers are performing to meet our needs.”

In addition to ordering parts for the specific project, purchasing also looks at how Acme can save on the cost of parts. “I look at how many times we’ve used a part in the last year or two, to see whether or not I see a trend… sometimes we can get better pricing by ordering more parts to stock in inventory.”

“I’ll look at our history and then I’ll go see what the projection is for other jobs… Let’s say a single part is $600, but if I order 12 it’s $200… for some items we can do that to save our customers money.”

Next, the order for parts is placed.

In the past, orders were placed by mail, but now everything is done electronically, saving time while eliminating the cost of postage, and a lot of unnecessary labor.

Our team in the shipping and receiving department has access to our ERP system and can access the incoming orders. So when an order comes in, they open up all the boxes and go through all the parts and compare the contents to the purchase orders, to ensure that whatever came in is exactly what was ordered.

Then the order gets routed to either the inspection area or the stock crib area. When it goes to inspection, an inspector checks the part to make sure its 100% to specifications, and it then gets approved and routed to the “crib area.” Parts are sorted and issued to staging, until we are ready to build the cell. When all parts have been received, the cart is then taken to the factory where the systems are built.

Sometimes lead times can be an issue.

supply chain manager 2 with radiusTo overcome challenging lead times, Leza will send out a monthly email to the organization stating what the current lead times are for high volume components that we order. That way the sales team can quote accurate lead times to customers.

In a recent interview we asked Leza if her job was done once the cart is delivered to the manufacturing floor . Leza’s reply was “Not really, I think we all have our hands in the job, and it’s not really done until the machine is up and running at the customer site!”

This is just one small but very important step in building a turnkey robotic material removal or surface finishing system with many “moving pieces”. Stay tuned as we continue to share a behind the scenes look at our process.

For more information contact our team today.


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