Manufacturing in the USA has become a major topic of business studies in the 21st century.  With many companies looking to LCC’s (Low Cost Countries) to help improve margins, it has become imperative that to keep business in this country, we need to invest in “Best in Class” suppliers of commercial and custom materials.   The Coghlin Companies manufacture product within a 10 mile radius of its corporate headquarters in Worcester Massachusetts.  In order to satisfy critical time to market needs of our customers via flawless execution, we maintain a preferred supplier listing adhering to strict qualification criteria.

Local suppliers offer benefits to us in the areas of delivery, accessibility, problem resolution, and value engineering to name a few.

Columbia Tech, DCI and Cogmedix qualify suppliers based on criteria not limited to:

  • Broad manufacturing capabilities
  • Delivery and Quality performance
  • Price competitiveness
  • Flexibility and ability to change
  • ISO certification emphasizing continuous improvement

The ones who pass the test are grouped in commodity buckets and ranked in a tiered fashion.  Top tier or preferred suppliers are those who exhibit the above criteria along with product specific conditions.  Being a preferred supplier means delivering on time greater than 95% of the time, with zero defects, at a cost that allows us to win greater than 1 out of every 2 bids we quote on.

Maintaining a short list of preferred suppliers for each commodity speeds up the customer quotation process.  Making it to the preferred list is a formidable process, and staying on the list is even more difficult.  All suppliers are held to high quality standards, measured by the number of products delivered to the marketplace without interruption.  For preferred suppliers, annual quality audits are a performed.  In addition an objective evaluation by the functions affected through the supplier customer relationship is given yearly.   Only those who exceed the acceptable threshold remain on the list.  In return they are rewarded by being asked to quote on the majority of our business.

While your big box grocer boasts of their produce being home grown, so to can contract manufacturing.  As the food chain expands, our local suppliers will also look locally for their sub-tiered components and raw materials.  It is not unusual for a major assembly from Coghlin Companies bound for global distribution to have a local content of greater than 50%.

Our manufacturing output is only as good as what goes into it.  Employing a preferred supplier list ensures quality product.  Taking the time to qualify suppliers at the highest standards is just one step in keeping quality in, while keeping supply local.

By R. Tracy Galvin, Vice President – Supply Chain Development for Columbia Tech.