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How to Choose a Capital Equipment Supplier

When selecting a supplier for automation equipment or other capital projects, there are key points to consider.  Let’s boil it down to the items that can help ensure your Capital Equipment Purchase is a success!


Project Management

How does the potential supplier manage projects?  Do they use teams or do they have a project manager model?  The difference is that a Team Leader has direct control over the resources designing & building your equipment but the Project Manager does not have direct control.  This is critical as the job gets down to the wire and all hands are required to meet the timing.  Without control of the resources the project might not get completed on time.  With direct control of the resources, success is much more likely.  What project management tools does the potential suppler utilize – Microsoft Project, SharePoint, Open Issues Checklists?  Are they willing to set up a weekly status update call for you and your team?


Suppliers’ Experience with Your Products/Industry

Every application is unique but having direct experience with assembling similar products, markets, or customers can mean the difference between success and failure, especially on difficult applications.  Dig deep here.  Understand their experience by speaking with employees of the company that were involved.  Test their knowledge with Q&A.


Supplier Specifics – Longevity, Structure, & Financials

As a responsible steward of your company’s investments, it is imperative that you peal back the onion on the suppliers you are considering.  How long have they been in business?  How many systems have they produced?  How are they structured internally?  Who are their stakeholders?  How do they determine which project will get the available resources?  Who answers to who & who has final say in the distribution of resources?  Get into the numbers.  Public or private, you still need to understand the financial health of the suppliers you are considering.  If the company is teetering on bankruptcy, it is time to find another partner.  This is one of the most common supplier selection failures – lack of financial due diligence.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  Your reputation is dependent on the supplier being around for the long haul and not taking your money without providing a piece of equipment!


Supplier Location & Service Strategy

Where is the supplier in relation to your facility? Do they have service personnel readily available to support you within hours of a request?  Flying to a supplier with key personnel for a runoff can get downright expensive.  Choosing a qualified supplier that is drivable can help keep the spending in check.



First, ask for the reference.  Second, check the references.  It is likely that suppliers will not send you a reference that is frustrated, but the opportunity to dig deeper into their experience is important.  That is where the rubber meets the road.  How did they manage those projects and have they taken care of the customers since the delivery?  Make the calls!


Supplier Selection Matrix

Make sure to put together a supplier selection matrix.  This can be a spreadsheet listing and valuing the various selection criteria above.  This will be instrumental in making certain you make the best choice for your company.


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