Plastics News prints quite a few items about processors who win ``Supplier of the Year'' awards from their original equipment manufacturer customers. These are the molders, I presume, who deliver defect-free parts on time throughout the year. That's good. But I think turnabout is fair play. Processors should have a ``Customer ofthe Year'' award. During the year, processors would record each customer's performance based on specific criteria.
For example, a customer would be awarded 50 points for paying invoices on time. Ten points would be deducted if the customer pays past 30 days; 20 for paying beyond 60 days. Late payments to processors are as bad as late shipments to OEMs. Processors are not bankers.
A customer would gain 50 points for providing the molder with a quarterly order/delivery schedule. One schedule change per month would be allowed. That is reasonable. Beyond that, points would be deducted every time a buyer calls the molder and asks for more or fewer parts to be delivered sooner or later than the schedule states.
Points would be deducted every time a customer demands overnight delivery, or for shipments refused on the pretense that they have quality problems, a tactic used to delay acceptance of parts into the OEM's inventory because the customer miscalculated.
OEMs need to remember that unless a shop is captive, processors have other customers. They schedule machine time based on quantity requirements from a variety of companies. To call on a daily basis (I know of some OEMs who do this) to push production schedules in or out wreaks havoc on the processor. Processors are not responsible for the customer's defective scheduling system.
Points also would be deducted for repeated changes in quality criteria because the customer isn't sure what it really wants. I've known of cases in which parts that check to the same quality standards are acceptable one week and not acceptable the next. Processors are not clairvoyant.
At the end of each year, processors could present a ``Customer of the Year'' award to the one with the most points.
Customers who receive a low score should be evaluated by the processor to determine if another year's relationship is really worth it. It's called separating the winners from the losers, and that is what ``Supplier of the Year'' is really all about.
Frankly, I believe that if processors were as concerned with the performance of their customers as their customers are with the performance of the processors, we would have fewer processors with cash-flow problems.
Good business is a two-way street.
Goldsberry is a Plastics News correspondent based in Phoenix.