When evaluating distributors, manufacturers should look for companies that can offer specialized in-house capabilities that will add value to the overall product offering, observes Bill Moore, senior vice president with SKF, a manufacturer of bearings. Examples could include machinery that performs custom functions, such as a cutting machine for made-to-order lengths of hose or chain.
Some distributors are able to bundle several components together into a complete kit, Moore notes, pointing out that commodity providers "are usually unwilling or unprepared to offer such services because of their focus on high-volume, repeat business." Check with your distributor to see if they can consolidate individual items into a single kit or shipment.
As with other areas of your operations, manufacturers should ensure continuous improvement from their distributors, Moore recommends. That means working with them on identifying the service areas where they need to improve. Also, consider sharing with them end users' purchasing histories, which could show irregular usage patterns of MRO items that indicate premature or recurring failures. The distributor will be better equipped to proactively address these problems, and can help develop a solution that not only reduces or eliminates those failures but also demonstrates to the end customer your active engagement in supporting their business.