Bearing distributors are a vital business partner. After all, they provide the components that make your finished products move. However, there may come a time when you should re-think the partnership – either as a growth initiative or due to a breakdown in the relationship.
Your supplier insists on selling you a “comparable” bearing at the same or slightly lower price.
Although alternative bearings may fit your application, and are worth testing, it can upset your production schedule. If the bearing is not up to the standards of your current supply, or if the quality is inconsistent, it can jeopardize finished products and lead to warranty work.
There are many low-end bearing manufacturers in the marketplace. Be sure that your bearings come from reputable and stable manufacturer by checking the manufacturer’s scorecards. Quality issues are not for the faint of heart – or for your bottom line.
Credit is no longer extended.
Unless you have been a late payer, this tactic is usually a sign that the distributor is having financial difficulties. You do not want to be in a position of weakness that could slow or shut down your production line. Now is the best time to shop for a new bearing distributor.
Your quantities have greatly increased.
If your sales are growing, it may be time to buy direct from a bearing manufacturer. Doing so offers many advantages, including engineering support that can produce custom bearings and bearing assemblies, along with cost savings.
Custom bearings alleviate product issues or enhance a finished product. If your engineering team knows that there is a better way to design a component, but does not have a bearing that will work within the design, a custom bearing is the solution.
It all begins with the print. A bearing manufacturer teams with your internal designers to review prints, lend their expertise, internally test samples and provide samples for field tests. Once all of the boxes are checked, production begins on your custom bearing solution.
Bearing assemblies provide both cost and time savings. Assemblies combine a bearing with housing and/or connecting products. For example, tie rods are welded to rod ends for steering applications at the manufacturer. The full component is then shipped to your production facility.
By providing more than the bearing, your team benefits from lowered manufacturing costs and by the reduction in time to assemble the product internally.
Cost savings on commodity bearings is seen with volume purchases. It is worth contacting a manufacturer for pricing when your orders outstrip a distributor’s supply or when monthly usage is consistently above a manufacturer’s minimum. Manufacturers will let you know how many bearings of a specific part number are required they need ordered at one time to service your account.
Bearings can seem like any other commodity, however, they are found in many critical applications and offer potential cost savings. This is why it is important to always work with reputable distributors and manufacturers when selecting a bearing for your finished product.