Working with Powder Manufacturers

If you are a powder job shop, or run a powder line for your company, your most important vendors are your pretreatment suppliers and the powder manufacturers.

Saving the pretreatment guys for another day, I'd like to give my thought on getting the most from your powder suppliers.

"Can the sales rep help me?" is the first question I ask myself. Does he or she have technical knowledge that they can share? Are they willing to work on anything that you might be having a problem with and, hopefully, go beyond the bounds of just the powders that they have sold you?

If the answer is yes, then treat this precious resource with the respect they are due. They can become a valuable asset and partner in your business. They can help you with most of the actual problems that you are encountering, often going beyond the bounds of just the powders themselves.

Recently, I had an interest in learning more about sieving powders. By talking to several of my powder representatives, I got a few different views on how to sieve powder, whether to use rotary or vibratory sieves and any special things to look out for. As a result of this valued input, we were able to make an intelligent choice of options and knew what type of questions to ask the sieve manufacturers.

Of course, these reps also can be a valuable asset in terms of solving problems that you have using their powders. When encountering a problem, I find it best to not blame the powder before you have done a thorough investigation of other variables, such as application techniques, hygiene procedures practiced, etc., before reaching the conclusion that "it's the powder." By going through the process of elimination, the powder rep does not have to be defensive and is more likely to give you his best.

Powder manufacturers usually have much more test and analytical equipment than you do. This also can be used to your advantage. A few of the testing options that I have used in the past were powder particle size distribution analysis and D.S.C. gas chromatograph testing, which indicates percentage of cure. Ultra violet testing is another area in which a good vendor can help you. Normally speaking, the labs are quite cooperative in helping you, regardless of your needs.

We can't ignore price increase. These have been coming in hot and heavy lately. I have found that your good vendors will work with you and offer options. The other vendors will send you a price increase letter signed by some guy you've never met. You be the judge!

In summary, take your good powder reps out to lunch. Treat them with the respect they have earned, and watch what they can do for you. Of course, it doesn't hurt to pay them within their terms. It's also good to have a friend in the credit department.