In January we mentioned that we were planning some big changes for the year ahead. Behind the scenes, we have been coding thousands of new product, and have had successful discussions with new and existing suppliers about our ideas for the coming 12 months.
We will be making some minor changes in the next month to the current stock services website, adding new products, and grades of material, and will then be on track to develop our new website. The new website is due to be online by the autumn of 2016.
In the short term, we will be out visiting existing customers, discussing our increased range of materials that we can offer to you. This will include pipework in grade 310, UNS S31254 SMO as well as EU origin 304/304L, 316/316L, Duplex and Super Duplex material.
We will also be offering an increased range of seamless and welded fittings. This will include 310 and UNS S31254 materials, as well as a more comprehensive range of stainless steel flanges.
We will continue supplying difficult to source fittings and flanges from our overseas partners, so keep trying us for these enquires. We are experts in airfreighting hard to source items manufactured on quick lead times.
The new Website – what is it going to do?
We have been tinkering with several different ideas when it comes to our new website, and we have some ambitious plans including:
Increasing our stock ranges in both EU origin and NON EU origin materials available on quick delivery times.
A re-focus on piping products, with new ranges and grades, again available on short deliveries.
A client area which will allow users to log into their company account and request copy invoices, test certificates and despatch notes for your orders.
A continuation of the ‘request a quote’ function. As well as the ability to re validate quotations that have expired.
We will also be adding an online purchasing function, allowing you to place your orders online, making your payment by BACS, Credit Card or on agreed credit terms.
The idea is to make dealing with us – before, during and after a sale – even easier than it currently is! Surely not possible I hear you cry 🙂
We are also looking for UK and European manufacturers to contact us.
We plan to develop a manufacturing section of the website, which will allow users a quick way to request prices for items that are not commonly held in stock.
This will allow our clients, both new and old, to quickly receive prices and place orders for a whole range of steel products, including pipes, fittings, flanges, gaskets or valves to name but a few. We will endeavour as always to quote unusual grades or sizes of material, including items produced specifically to your drawings quickly and competitively.
For us to do this, we will need to know about your manufacturing capabilities. So get in touch with us to discuss what you do amazingly, and we may be able to open some new doors for you.
We have a few manufacturers onboard already, but will need more as we grow the website in the coming years.
Please share this article with anyone you think may be interested. Click the above image or here to send us an email about your capabilities and we will discuss them with you. Hopefully we can help each other sell more products online!
After a very difficult year in 2015, Stock Services will continue to hold stock of fittings and flanges in our UK warehouse facility.
We have realigned all our prices to the current market levels (weeps) and are fully replenishing our Seamless Butt Weld Fittings.
What’s the plan for 2016…the ‘short term?’
We realised last year that we need to be able to offer a bigger range of products to be successful.
This year we are going to focus on increasing our range of products that we can supply to include the below:
Seamless and Welded pipes and tubes
Fittings in Welded and Seamless construction
Flanges in pressure ratings of 150#, 300# and 600#
All of these products, and full stock availability, will be shown on our online catalogue very soon. In the meantime please send us your enquiries as normal.
More airfreight jobs.
We are still supplying goods by airfreight, and took many orders in the run up to Christmas from new and old customers.
We are being most successful supplying large fittings both in seamless and welded construction and large uncommonly held flanges.
Don’t miss out on a potential order due to difficulty sourcing flanges and fittings, we can often have these items manufactured and delivered in 15-35 days. Uncommon grades, sizes and schedules are no problem for us 🙂
Medium term – The website/shop.
We are going to be redeveloping our website significantly in the coming 3-4 months and making some big improvements for you the customer.
The new website will allow users:
To log on quickly and easily
Request quotations for a larger range of products than currently offered
Save or revalidate your historic quotations
View your order history online
View/download your test certificates and invoices
You will even be able to place your orders online if you like
We will send out more updates about the website, before it goes live, and hope that some of you can help us with a bit of ‘constructive feedback’ on the test site, before the live version comes out later in the year.
2016 – A year of opportunity perhaps?
If 2015 was a difficult year for anyone who had an involvement within the petrochemical industry, it is highly likely that 2016 will be even more challenging. With that in mind we would like to thank all our customers for the support they have given us last year, and wish you all a successful year in 2016.
We plan to continue to make it easy for you to do business with us, so keep us in mind with your enquiries for stock and difficult to source items.
It has taken many years…about six in fact…BUT Stock Services has finally begun stockholding welded stainless steel fittings.
When we set up our stockholding division ‘Stock Services’ in 2008 we begun with the goal of becoming one of the top three distributors of stainless steel SEAMLESS fittings in the UK. Since then we have developed our range further to include ASME Flanges and more recently EN1092-1 flanges (PN 16/3 and PN 16/8). Our range of seamless fittings and flanges are held in dual certified grades 304/304L and 316/316L, and our accurate stock levels can be found here on our website.
Since moving to larger premises in late 2014, we have taken the next logical step and increased our stainless steel fittings portfolio to include WELDED stainless steel fittings. We can now provide fittings and flanges in one package, and with our experience in distribution, can ship these articles all over the world on quick lead times. Send us your enquiries here.
Stock Services – what are we now holding in stock?
Stock Services carry a range of stainless steel fittings and flanges in our UK-based warehouse. Our range of material is as follows and is shown on our website in full allowing you to request quotations as well as just check stock availability:
Seamless stainless steel fittings – 90 LR and SR elbows, Concentric and Eccentric Reducers, Reducing and Equal Tees, as well as 45 LR Elbows and End Caps in grades 304/L and 316/L.
Welded stainless steel fittings – 90 LR Elbows, Concentric Reducers and Equal Tees in grades 304/L and 316/L
Duplex UNS S31803 Seamless Fittings (UK Origin) – 90 LR and 45 LR Elbows, Concentric and Eccentric Reducers
ASTM/ASME Flanges – Slip On, Weld Neck and Blind in grades 304/L and 316/L
EN1092-1 PN16 Flanges – Slip on and Blinds in grades 304/L and 316/L
Click the above links to be taken direct to our website to see stock levels and request a quotation.
Where can I buy non standard stainless steel fittings/flanges?
If you cannot see what you are looking for on our website then please contact us here. It is almost impossible to stock every item of fittings and flanges that are required, but we are very experienced in supplying non standard, large quantities or oversized items on quick lead time from our mills in China. We also have a number of local suppliers that we use to build packages for export, so let us know what you are looking for and we will endeavour to source the material for you.
The below 36 NPS 900# flange was manufactured in under three weeks from our flange mill in China and was subsequently airfreighted to the UK direct to a client in under four weeks.
We also sell large and unusual seamless and welded fittings, often on quick delivery times of 2-3 weeks, so try us out with your enquiries. The below item was manufactured along with about 3 tonnes of other fittings in grade 321. Sch 100 stock material is not commonly held in stock, and the requirement for grade 321 meant our client was struggling to find a suitable supplier to source this material on a short lead time. We managed to have the below material manufactured on a 3 week lead time plus standard delivery into Europe satisfying our customers requirements.
£5,816.51 was JUST enough to give us the crown as this year’s highest Scumrun fundraisers by a huge four quid! I would like to say a big thank you to all those that sponsored us either personally or from a business! We originally targeted £3,000 as a team, but generated £3075.01 from stainless steel stockists and traders alone, meaning we were able to eventually beg, steal and borrow our way to the top of this year’s fundraising tree!
The charity Tommy’s has almost raised its target of £100,000 (currently £94,500 received) to help build a new research centre which will carry out vital research investigating the causes of miscarriage and stillbirths. This is really crucial work and affects as many as 1 in 4 people, who will suffer pregnancy related issues. The fundraising ends this month, so if you forgot, didn’t have the time, or would now like to donate to this great cause, then please feel free to follow this link.
Scumrun 2014 – What’s it all about?
I have had a lot of contact with customers and suppliers right up to and after this year’s event, all asking what we were doing and why? About 6 years ago I heard about this charity event and decided along with a mate of mine that we should get involved. Having let life get in the way of a good idea, I had to wait until this year to eventually take part. I discussed the event over the Christmas holiday with 3 other friends from RS Motors and Rippedbody.jp, just like me, they were instantly up for an excuse to go on a glorified holiday!
The aim of the Scumrun event is SIMPLE. Get a large group of car enthusiasts together, buy a load of bangers (cars under £500), and then have an organised road trip across Europe. The destination and checkpoints for each day of the event are not released until each morning making the trip even more interesting. The competitors are then challenged collectively to raise £100,000 for a nominated child or baby charity. This year, the charity was Tommy’s.
Our team had decided on an 8 year old Renault Laguna as our cheap chariot, and with a little help from Vision Media and RS Motors, the car had its ‘go faster stripes’ and company logo’s added in typical bloke fashion – i.e. the night before the journey. We left Birmingham the day before the event begun and headed down to the meeting point – Brands Hatch race circuit – to meet up with the 350 other competitors. After a bit of a meet and greet in the car park on the evening, it was off to bed ‘early-ish’ to get set for the start of the event.
Day One – Thursday 8th May
On Thursday morning we met back at Brands Hatch circuit, and took in a few laps with all the other teams. This was our first chance to see some of the opposition vehicles taking part in the event. Due to the sheer number of vehicles that were on the track we didn’t get much chance to stretch the legs of the ‘viper stripped’ racing Laguna, but we did spy a number of heavily modified BMW and Audi motorcars, as well as a couple of Jags, a SHED complete with picket fence and pot plants and even a Rolls Royce!
After signing in, we got to meet 5th Gear’s Vicki Butler Henderson, the Tommy’s charity crew and the Scumrun events team. We then cruised down to Dover ferry port for the first leg of our journey.
On disembarking in France, we were set a challenge to reach a campsite in Nancy France but had to try and cross as many EU boarders as possible and take accompanying photographs as evidence. We took in only Belgium and Luxembourg and arrived at the camp site about fifteenth in some truly horrendous conditions. Some teams took in Holland and Germany as well, and arrived considerably later that evening, considerably wetter, and considerably hungrier!
Day Two – Friday 9th May
After a good night’s sleep the question on everyone’s lips was, ‘Where are we going to be going today?’ I was hoping we were going to be going further south, and I was not disappointed when after breakfast, we were told to make our way down to Milan! Not only are we going to be going to Milan tonight, but we are given a couple of tasks include finding a car show in France, and to set our sights on the largest plain water waterfall in Europe on the river Rhine in Switzerland.
After dispatching the first two missions in good time, we noticed on our route map that we could take either the Gotthard Tunnel, or the Saint Gotthard Pass. Quick vote, 100% in favour of the pass. Unfortunately we didn’t notice that the pass was closed at this time of year and after excitedly whizzing round hair pin bends for a couple of miles with a few other scumrunners, we were forced to turn around. Rather than turn back for the tunnel we instead tried the Furkapass made famous by a car chase scene in the James Bond Film ‘Goldfinger’ featuring an Aston Martin DB5 and a Ford Mustang. We were not able to replicate the film as travelling at any great speed was made impossible due the amount of melting snow and ice water flowing all over the road!
As you can see in the image below, there was still a fair amount of snow on the ground and we were unable to pass the summit where the snow was still a good 6-8 foot deep!
Therefore our only option was to join the traffic jam slowly filtering through the Gotthard Tunnel.
Arriving at about 9pm in Milan was not ideal, but after a pizza (‘When in Rome’, or Milan in our case) we were straight out on the town. After spending several hours in the town centre we noticed a group of trendy looking youths boarding a tram. We decided that this must be where the party continued and so boarded the tram ending up about 6 miles outside of the city and wandering through what seemed like any ordinary suburban housing development. Our new found ‘mates’ seemed baffled that we had driven from Birmingham to Milan and boarded a tram with a bunch of strangers in search of a nightclub.
What we found was quite spectacular, Armani Prive is an open air private members club which has played host to many celebrity clientele over the years including Beyonce et al. Suffice to say, we were not the A list type, and looking at the Queue we made the decision that our only chance of entry was to scale the fence, hide from the security in the bushes, and then slide in through the semi open walls of the nightclub. Unfortunately we were spotted and rather unceremoniously escorted out via the garden water sprinkler systems. Not to be defeated, we collared another doorman and on showing him our trip photo montage, he decided that it was better to let us in, than listen to any more of our inane ramblings!
Day 3 – Saturday 10th May
After a late night, the early start the following day was not welcomed with rapturous applause. Instead our designated driver shoe horned us into the car and began the journey to Lyon our destination for that day. Being in Milan, we were given a couple of tasks to complete, and duly took in the San Siro and Monza race circuit before beginning the journey into France.
It seems like some of the spirit of Monza had rubbed off on us and we were relived of 90 Euros for speeding when only a couple of miles away from camp! After two long days it was a welcome relief to arrive at our destination in the afternoon, and we spent the afternoon relaxing and chatting to fellow competitors and the organisers about the trip so far.
We also found out that we were three cars lighter, after two BMW’s and the Rolls Royce had all had major engine failures and had been replaced with courtesy cars for the remainder of the event!
About 200 of us were then collected from the camp site later that evening and spent a good three to four hours in Lyon’s main square before returning to a nightclub nearer our campsite for a nightcap. It seemed to be a much more relaxed night, but later that evening the locals began an impromptu breakdancing competition, and I cannot wait to see the video footage, IF of course, it makes the final cut!
Day 4 – Sunday 11th May
Rather sensibly, the final drive in our journey was a relatively short three hours to the Bordeaux region of France. Rather than spend time sampling the vineyards of this famous part of France, we headed straight to our camp site, which came complete with a large Jacuzzi hot tub and outdoor swimming pool.
The organisers had sensibly arranged for us to arrive early so we could have a party and BBQ that afternoon resulting in many people getting a much needed early night before the long drive back home the following day.
Day 5 – Monday 12th May
The long and winding road back to Dunkirk was despatched in a little over EIGHT hours without any major drama, and after a couple of hours spent at the ferry port, all of the remaining cars boarded the ferry back home.
The most important part of the trip was coming up on the way back home, when prizes were given out for Best Modified Car, Best Dressed Team, Completion of all Tasks Awards and then the big one. The top three fundraisers!
As you already know, we managed to claim the title by a couple of pounds and won a signed replica Mercedes Formula One Car signed by Sir Sterling Moss and Lewis Hamilton! Happy Days 🙂
The fundraising ends on the 16th of June, so if you have a few pounds you would like to throw into the pot, then please use this link.
I feel we have in our own way done our little bit to reinforce the stereotype of the Brit/Idiot Abroad.
The whole journey was over 2300 miles, but the car journeys flew by in the ‘racing laguna with added viper stripes’. At every checkpoint or service stop you bumped into other competitors and regularly ended up in convoys traveling on motorway, country lanes, or mountain passes.
Next year will be the tenth anniversary of the Scumrun, and it is likely to be the biggest event yet. I for one am eagerly looking forward to the adventure…is anyone else in?!
If you would like to make a personal donation to Tommy’s, please use this link, and thanks for reading 🙂
As revealed in our last blog post, Arnold Pol of Arcus in Dordrecht Holland was our spot the ball winner at the recent SSW2013 exhibition in Maastricht. An article has been published in Stainless Steel World Magazine, and will feature in the February 2014 edition.
For those that took part and did not win, I hope you were not too disappointed, but you may at least take some comfort that Arnold was thrilled with his victory. The bat is now residing on a wall in his home, and is the envy of all his friends and family 🙂
I have attached an image below of Arnold and myself with the aforementioned prize.
We have now taken delivery of our first batch of Weld Neck Flanges in grades 304/304L and 316/316L.
All our stock is shown live on our website so feel free to take a look. Click here for stock of 304/304L Weld Neck Flanges and for our 316/316L Weld Neck stock levels click here. Our website is updated every day so please bookmark our site www.stockservices.co.uk and check our stock as you receive your enquiries.
You can also request your quotations directly off of the website, so take a look at our full stock range which includes slip on and blind flanges as well as a full range of seamless butt weld fittings.
Coming Soon – PN Flanges and Welded Fittings
We mentioned in our last post that we will soon be stocking PN16 flanges (EN1092-1). In addition to this we will be purchasing initial stocks of Welded Butt Weld Pipe Fittings very soon, so keep checking back on the website for more details.
Remember we stock Seamless Fittings in grades 304/304L, 316/316L and UNS S31803 as well as our flanges so try us out for your enquiries.
It’s a couple of weeks on from the Maastricht exhibition, and after a great response to our ‘spot the cricket ball’ competition, we now have a winner. I have attached below the competition image and below that the original image showing you where the ball is. I can almost hear you gasp, ‘that was where I thought it was, did I win!?’
After receiving hundreds of entries from locations as varied as New Zealand, Uruguay, Chile, Israel and the USA, our eventual winner was from much closer to home in the Netherlands. Coincidentally this is the same country as the exhibition was taking place in, so unfortunately not many air miles for me on this occasion.
Arnold Pol from Arcus is the spot the ball winner. His guess was almost completely ‘spot on’, being less than 10 pixels away from the centre of the ball. Congratulations to him, and I hope he finds some use for his framed cricket bat. Maybe he could donate it to the Dutch international cricket side, it may bring them some luck and even some runs 🙂
I have contacted Arnold, and will be organising a visit to present him with the signed cricket bat in the coming weeks. A photo will follow in an upcoming blog post, and a short article will appear in the new edition of stainless steel world magazine.
Thanks for taking part
Thank you to all those who took part, and don’t be too upset if you didn’t win on this occasion as we may run another competition in the new year. If you want to be a spot the ball winner, then keep your eyes peeled for our emails, or add us by searching Stock Services to your Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn accounts for updates.
If you didn’t get to visit the exhibition in person, I have attached a photo below of me holding the prized Michael Vaughan signed cricket bat. Feel free to leave any witty comments!
Stock Services News
We have just taken delivery of our first batch of Weld Neck Flanges in grades 304/304L and 316/316L. To check our current stock levels, please click here for 316/L weld necks, or click here for 304/L. Our website is updated daily so the figures you see are the accurate quantities that we have in stock.
We will be increasing this weld neck range along with our slip on and blind flanges over the coming three to six months and we will also be adding PN16 flanges (EN1092-1) so keep an eye out for these on our website.
Remember we stock Seamless Fittings in grades 304/304L, 316/316L and UNS S31803 as well as our flanges so try us out for your enquiries.
We have mentioned on a number of occasions, that we are exhibiting at the SSW2013 in Maastricht between November 12th and 14th BUT, were you aware that we will also be running a competition!!!
Now everyone loves a competition…so if you are lucky enough to be disappearing from work for a few days and attending the exhibition, then get yourself over to our stand S-549 and you can take part in person. If however you are stuck in the office ‘holding down the fort’, whilst others pretend to be busy networking, then we do not want you to miss out. We have added the competition to our website so click this link or the image below to take part!
So what do i need to do, and what’s the prize!?
It’s simple. Come to our stand on any of the three days of the exhibition to take part in the spot the ball competition. All you need to do is select the position of the cricket ball, which has been airbrushed out of an image of a recent game of club cricket. That’s it!
The PRIZE for the lucky participant who gets closest to the ball, is a framed and signed Cricket bat from non other than ex england captain Michael Vaughan. Exciting!
What else will we be doing at the exhibition.
As well as running the spot the ball competition, two members of the Stock Services team, Peter Comerford and Chris Price (pictured below) will be available on all three days of the exhibition to answer any questions you have. We will also be doing live demonstrations of our website, and can assist you in registering your details so that you can request quotations online when you get back to your office.
It’s not every day that you walk on to the flight deck of an Aircraft Carrier. However, that is what Chris Price and I experienced first-hand last week, on a miserable day in Rosyth, Scotland. After supplying seamless fittings to Righton in 2010, we were pleased to accept a formal invitation to take part in a supplier open day, along with a number of other major contractors.
After a 5 minute health and safety briefing we were soon in overalls, hard hats and safety glasses, and climbing through part finished corridors, up wall ladders, and into the most inner bowels of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth. There is much work still to be done by the looks of things, but our guide for the day Dave Arthur (Wholeship Mechanical Manager) spoke with real passion, enthusiasm and pride at the progress we were witnessing first hand.
I’d like to give a big thanks to Tony Whalley of Righton for the invite. Chris and I had a great time, as did the other suppliers we spoke with on the day.
So what does the aircraft carrier look like then?
Unfortunately we were not given the green light to take any photos whilst on the aircraft carrier, but I have attached a recent video from the British forces news http://bfbs.com/news/scotland/new-aircraft-carrier-close-completion-63330.html. In no way does this short video do any justice to the sheer scale of this vessel, which will be approaching some 65,000 tonnes when complete, but it does give a good visual!
Information on the vessel is scarce at the moment, but 2017-2018 is still anticipated to be the date of completion and full handover to the Royal Navy. The design of the aircraft carrier has utilised modern cruise ship building techniques of compartmentalising the build, and sections or blocks of the ship have been built at various locations around the UK. Each section has been part manufactured to reduce work on site where the engineers have a steep learning curve having never built a vessel like this before.
The aircraft carrier will use electricity to turn two 33 tonne propellers and will sail at over 30 knots generating enough power to run some 5,500 homes. The carrier will carry almost 1000 serving crew when operational. Each of the aircraft carriers will have operating theatres, a medical suite and a dental surgery. The aircraft carrier will have a range of approx. 10,000 nautical miles.
The Queen Elizabeth will be capable of carrying 40 aircraft including up to 35 F-35 Jets and 4 helicopters. The ‘Queen Elizabeth’ and ‘Prince of Wales’ vessel’s will carry 24 F-35s in line with the current purchase of 48 jets from Lockheed Martin. If you want to read more about the aircraft carrier, please have a look at the following link.
Stock Services Updates
If you have managed to put up with my ramblings and are still reading, then I may as well draw your attention to the serious matter of what is actually going on at Stock Services! We have recently been telling you about our forays into Stainless Steel Flanges. We currently stock Slip on and Blind flanges up to 24 NPS, but have been INUNDATED with requests for Weld Neck flanges. Hurrah…the first batch is arriving on the 31st of October from Viraj, so keep those enquiries coming in, and we will gladly quote you on a forward order.
Remember to try us out for EU origin UNS S31803 seamless fittings. We have a range of material up to and including 6NB in Sch 10S, 40S, 80S and 160 so keep the enquiries coming in. Check our site for current stock levels and then click the product you are enquiring about to see our stock levels.
Good day, well it was until i tried to lift a couple of 24 inch blind flanges! They are just a little heavier than the seamless fittings we are used to picking and packing on a daily basis.
Stainless Steel Flanges in Stock!
We have been talking about it for a while now, but our first delivery of stainless steel flanges have arrived. We are stocking a range of 150# and 300# slip on and blind flanges in dual certified grades 304/304L and 316/316L. Our range begins at 1/2 NB upto and including 24 NB so there should be enough for you to get your teeth into. The first batch of stock is now packed and loaded onto our systems ready for sale, so please give us your enquiries to quote against.
As with all our stocks we give you full visibility of our stock range and these can be found by clicking here and then picking either 304 or 316 flanges. You may notice that we have stainless steel weld neck flanges showing on our website. These are due to be arriving in October and November from Viraj, so please keep us in mind for your requirements of weld neck flanges nearer the time.
As well as the stock flanges, we are also happy to offer quick lead times on specials direct from China. If you have any urgent requests, we can offer to airfreight jobs on short lead times of less than 15 days, potentially saving you time and money trying to source elsewhere.
UNS S31803 Duplex Steel Fittings in stock.
We have also had more deliveries of UNS S31803 seamless fittings over recent weeks, so keep us in mind for your enquiries. Our initial stock material is all manufactured in the UK, and in accordance with Norsok M630. Stock is shown live online, so please try us out.
Thanks for popping by and taking a look at our most recent post today. We hope to see you again soon!
Today’s internet has, without doubt, opened up the world with just a click of a button!
We can now sit in our living room and find out anything from anywhere on the planet without lifting more than one finger. Want to know how many teeth, on average, a monitor lizard has? Two clicks and you have it in front of you! (Before you start looking… its 101! – 78 premaxillary teeth, 10 maxillary and 13 dentary teeth). Nothing is beyond our reach
It has also revolutionised the way we buy! You can literally buy anything on line. From a button to a Bentley! In our industry the effect has been just as dramatic!
So can you buy stainless steel online?
In the past we would have had a list of suppliers based in our own domestic market and, possibly, a few good International suppliers recognised throughout the industry. Not anymore! Now with the help of the Worldwide Web we can buy from a global supply base.
There are, clearly, some great advantages to this new found freedom of buying (and selling) but there are also many dangers! How do you really know who you’re buying from? Web sites can be very misleading! Big glossy “Buy our wonderful quality goods!”pages promising the best quality and service. Not to mention the very best prices!
But what do you know about these companies?
In the past you knew the company. Probably on first name terms with the boss (and his wife and kids). Now we talk to a company 6000 miles away via email. How can we possibly know how good or bad they are? We can buy from a supplier based on track record, reputation or recommendation.
But what about buying ‘off piste’? – WOW! THIS MUST BE A GREAT COMPANY!
Trawling the web looking for a supplier that will give you that slight price edge can result in some very hard and costly lessons! I speak from experience having once bought from a Chinese mill on the strength of their web site and a few samples before committing. The samples were very good, as were the documents…Pity about the actual pipes!
Most pipes were bent. Many were rusty, and a large amount had no visible identification markings on them at all! The accompanying test certificates were from a different mill than the provided samples. It seemed the samples were just that! Samples NOT actuals! What can you do? Having paid on shipment my only recourse was via a very expensive and protracted law suit. I decided not to throw good money after bad and I took the hit, vowing never to buy without having first-hand knowledge of the supplier.This has resulted in a twice yearly (or more) pilgrimage out to China to visit existing suppliers and vet any potential new mills. An expense that has proven on more than one occasion to be fully justified! These trips are also a very big eye opener to the vast difference between what companies say on their web site and what they actually do (or don’t do)!
On another occasion I placed an order for some end caps based again on a glittering web site and an amazingly competitive price and delivery. It wasn’t a problem as I was visiting China before delivery and could carry out my own QA audit of the mill and inspect my order prior to shipment and payment!
A brief list of some of the non-conformities will tell you all you need to know.
1 – No goods in inspection
2 – No material segregation
3 – No production cards with orders
4 – No thermocouples on furnace
5 – No documented heat treatment hold times
6 – No regular checking of pickling solution
7 – No final inspection procedures!
I could list another 30 or 40 points of rejection but I’m guessing you’ve got the picture by now.
If you then add to this the fact that when I complained to the ISO 9001 certifying authority they were happy to tell me that this particular company were not on their records and that the ISO document I had forwarded to them was a fake! Needless to say the end caps stayed in China!!
Great web site though!
Don’t get me wrong! There are many extremely good producers in China and 9 times out of 10 you will get what you order. If you’re happy in the risk business please carry on. I’m a firm believer in the old adage “once bitten twice shy”!
So that’s a yes then?
There is also the cultural difference to contend with. I have learnt over many years that a Chinese yes may not necessarily be the yes we understand. Chinese people are very polite and don’t want to offend so it is better to say yes than no and risk upsetting you. Very annoying when you place an order only for it to come back with some very different previously agreed (“yes”) conditions!
They may be polite face to face but they can be very hardnosed when back in their comfort zone offices. So trying to get them to back track on what you thought was previously agreed can be difficult!
Everything now has to be I dotted and T crossed before I place any business!
I’m glad we understand each other!
Language can also a very big problem. That person you thought could speak fluent English (very clear emails) turns out to be someone whose email English comes from Google translator! Chenglish is alive and kicking!
This again is where the Chinese “yes” comes in. Better to nod your head than admit you don’t understand what this English person is talking on about.
I once had a car ride with a representative from a production company. He spent the whole time speaking to me in English…Well he was using English words but didn’t make one coherent sentence. It was just a flow of random English words. It was very funny but a completely pointless trip.
We now work with a very intelligent, Chinese girl who speaks better English than me (am prepared for the onslaught of witty comments here). She comes with me to all of my meetings in China and has become our minesweeper! We now have no confusion, or at least manageable ‘grey areas’.
Having said that…
We have just avoided another Anti-Dumping duty, this time on Stainless Steel fittings from China. This had us all scrambling across the globe searching out new and competitive suppliers to deal with. Every country was considered (more potential cultural mine fields to address) One day another heavy duty may hit us and we may finally come full circle and buy our fittings from Italy! I look forward to that day so I can; again, enjoy the delights of Italian cuisine and a culture that clearly understands the words yes and NO!