In today's competitive and fast-paced environment, owner companies must get products to market quickly and efficiently. By
redefining how they provide services and products, suppliers can enhance their value and help owner companies reap the greatest
No supplier is immune from taking part in this evolution. From the perspective of a fluid system component supplier, there
is tremendous need to augment product supply with services that make an end user's life easier.
Leading suppliers are providing comprehensive documentation with components as an important convenience to biopharm manufacturers
whose systems must pass FDA validation. Documentation containing heat, lot, and part numbers for traceability, chemical analysis
from the heat, and a physical inspection log, should be accurate, tightly controlled, user friendly, and supplied with the
In addition, by providing third-party inspected and verified products, ensuring that products meet ASME-BPE requirements at
delivery, costs for the owner company can be reduced with minimized failures and returns.
Leading suppliers also maintain documentation online, allowing owner companies to obtain information conveniently and easily
24 hours a day. Through this online function, owner companies can input heat or lot numbers and retrieve material test reports
and inspection documentation.
SALES AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT
Owner companies should seek suppliers who provide a broad product offering since it is not desirable to deal with multiple
suppliers for components. Further, suppliers who move beyond components to value-added services such as vendor-managed inventory,
just-in-time deliveries, and training can greatly enhance their value. End users can save time on orders and bring down costs
by shifting management of component inventory to the supplier, which reduces overstock and understock situations.
More manufacturers and system fabricators are recognizing the value of using custom fabrications for solutions to unique assembly
requirements for their processing systems. End users often attempt to design or build systems within a rigid framework, only
to encounter problems during the actual construction phase. In such cases, a supplier who makes an on-site visit may be able
to help develop a less costly or more efficient design solution. End users should look to suppliers who provide custom work
as a standard service.
Leading suppliers are recognizing the need to develop products to help enhance cleanability and drainability. For example,
elbow fittings angled 88 and 92 deg (with a tight tolerance of ±0.5 deg) ensure accuracy and reliability for cleaning and
draining. The alternatives are standard 90-deg fittings modified by manual methods of achieving drainable angles, which entail
hand bending or mitering, neither of which is desirable. Fittings installed with incorrect angles because of a variable tolerance
or manual methods of assembly can put an entire system at risk for contamination.
Another example is an orbital welding system that provides real-time and comprehensive data readings that document welding
processes and procedures, thereby simplifying the amount of time — and money — spent to document and validate welds.
Suppliers must rise to the occasion, and those who know the needs of the industry will be in the best position to service
owner companies. Suppliers who cultivate relationships with owner companies will bring the most value and will play a key
role in helping them to bring products to market faster
Mike Sullivan is president of Swagelok Biopharm Services Company, 107-111 Goundry Street, North Tonawanda, NY 14120, 716.743.9735
ext 1105, fax 800.523.4165,