What powder metal customers want: Q&A with Phil Goodwin
You just had a group of customers in from Germany. What did you talk about?
They required a fairly tight turnaround on the components, and we’re working with them to try to make the parts better. And we talked about cost. I think the ultimate customer might be General Motors in this case, and they look for a lower cost…. And all the automakers are the same. It’s a matter of us working with our customer, who works with their customer, to try and make the thing as cheaply as possible. And we talked about that – they want the best quality for the best price. Everybody does…
The customer likes to see efficiency. They want to see an efficient operation, with minimal excess cost. I think a lot of it is cost-driven, and certainly they want to see quality and the finish that you expect to see – but I think they look for those operations that they wouldn’t normally associate with powder metal, like our secondary operations. For our size, we conduct a substantial number of secondary operations. Virtually anything you can do to machine a part, we do, and I think that’s what makes us somewhat unique in the industry.
Are most customers familiar with powder metal?
Engineers, I think, are coming to understand powder metal more – there are people who don’t…
I think from a purchasing standpoint, they see powder metal for what it is, which is often a lower-cost method of getting a near-net shape. Obviously the less material you waste, the more efficient the process, the lower the cost for the customer. And if you can provide quality with that cost, then the customer benefits.
Cost and quality: Is that “the Sinteris advantage”?
We offer a complete solution. So we take the component from powder to a finished product without, or rarely, having to send it for additional operations.
The other thing we offer is the ability to assist the customer in configuring the component – ideally for powder metal and to meet the requirements of their assembly. And many of our parts, although we don’t design the entire part, typically, we certainly like to have input to help the customer make the part powder metal friendly, which allows it to be lower cost, usually, for them.
And I think the other thing is reaction time. We’re able to generally turn around from prototype to production, or from customer drawing to initial samples, fairly quickly… We’ve had some good examples, just recently as a matter of fact. We had a customer request a series of five components in an assembly, and we were able to do this in a five or six week period. It was painful, and it required a concerted effort on behalf of everyone, but we did it. And we do that all the time. It’s one of the things we do…