I do not have all the answers for all end users as there is no fixed format. However at least I can share some generic processes which hopefully may assist?
Demand versus supply
Demand: End users are seeking new acceptable valve
manufacturers. This may be due to the need for change owing to
poor performance of existing manufacturers or perhaps better
commercial terms are required. A process is commenced to
evaluate new manufacturers. Often, unknown to manufacturers,
a “desk top evaluation exercise” is first undertaken by
gathering market data from the internet. Internet information
can be misleading as the web site does not reflect the actual
manufacturer. It’s disappointing to see photographs of plants that
are computer models. When you visit the manufacturer there is
little resemblance to the web data.
Also network contacts supply information. Which other end
users are using the manufacturer? The manufacturer’s market
image and reputation are evaluated. Are there any quality issues,
delivery issues known or are they performing well?
At a defined point the end user visits the manufacturer to
commence their evaluation or audit. If the preparation has
been good a full audit will be completed. On some occasions
though the first findings do not meet expectations and the visit
is politely cut short. This has recently happened to me. After a 2
day visit was scheduled we departed after 2 hours as it became
very clear that the manufacturer was significantly falling short of
quality and technical requirements. There was no casting surface
requirement. Also high levels of casting porosity were seen. What
was disappointing was that the manufacturer, although interested
in the end user’s orders, showed no willingness to improve.
The message was “take what you see.”
However after visiting many manufacturers end users often
struggle to find acceptable manufacturers. They often walk away
and do not return. Why is this?
Supply: Valve manufacturers seek end user approvals and for
many it’s a much sought after goal. They actively approach the
end user, enticing them to visit their plant and try to engage in
discussions. As an end user you can be “blitzed” at trade shows
from such approaches. I always encourage this as you never know
which manufacturer will be next to break into the global arena?
Manufacturers invest in and achieve appropriate certification such
as ISO and API but for some reason they struggle to achieve
end user approval. Audit close out meetings are kept short with
minimal feedback from the end user with no approval. In some
instances the end user issues many demanding corrective actions
which leave the manufacturer bewildered as to how to respond?
Many manufacturers are really trying their best but they are often left
bemused when approvals are not forthcoming. Again why is this?
End user approval – market information
- Aggressive end users:
Having worked within the industry it becomes apparent
which end users are really serious with approvals. They
aggressively seek new manufacturers and commit signifi cant
time to achieve this for both their operations and projects.
I estimate 20% of the end users fi t into this category. Also
they tend to honour their approval with the award of
contracts and orders. These end users do have a positive effect on
manufacturers as many seek their approval. Also by
leading the market the end user can achieve new technical
directives more easily and can be pace setters. Other end
users follow suit as the way forward has been proven.
Following end users:
The next group of end users is estimated at 30% who,
though they claim to seek new manufacturers, are heavily
infl uenced by the fi rst group mentioned above. If you
take time to analyse historic data you will fi nd some
interesting data. These end users tend not to push the
market boundaries so much. Successful manufacturers from
the aggressive group are more probable of success in the
following group as they apply lessons learnt and sometimes
have the market edge over their competitors.
For example, having developed valves to meet fugitive
emission standards for a particular aggressive end user has
the advantage over a manufacturer who is just embarking on
the activity. I see this constantly in the market. Many hours
of discussions have occurred with those manufacturers who
are hesitant to invest in fugitive emissions without approval
or an order. This often results in the manufacturer being
Historic end users:
20% is estimated for those end users who maintain their
historic manufacturers. Their primary expenditure is for
their operations and they are, therefore, reliant on local
supply chains, such as distributors, from whom they
select manufacturers. This group tends to consider new
manufactures as and when any new project arises.
Non-moving end users:
Again 20% is estimated for those end users who rely
on manufacturers they have used successfully for 5
years or more. They tend to keep to technically proven
manufacturers that may not be as competitive with
cheaper, less proven alternatives. Changing manufacturers
is very rare.
No approvals end users:
Here it is estimated at 10% for those end users who
have no approved manufacturers. They tend to fl ow
with whatever is available. Their spend profi le tends to
be very local and of low value. The introduction of new
manufacturers is easier.
Question for manufacturers
If you are a manufacturer who has had many visits from
end users and have not been approved, are you genuine
in your attempt to improve? Once you have reached
the “required level” this will offer easier opportunities
with end users. This takes time, requires investment &
often needs changes in working practices. All this will be
explained in forthcoming articles.
Thank you for your time. Please contact me if you have any
questions or comments. They are most welcome.