You’ve already done the difficult task of figuring out how many part components you need, and now all you have to do is order them. Easy peasy, right?
Unfortunately, production quantity isn’t always what you might expect; from the amount of parts created based on material quantity to the amount you actually receive, there are many opportunities for waste, which may affect your total quantity along the way.
As a company that’s built custom parts for over 34 years, Strouse is accustomed to answering many of the quantity-related questions you might have.
Rather than waiting for a problem to rear its ugly head during the month of your product release, get ahead of potential issues by reading these myths.
Common Production Quantity Myths to Recognize
Although it may seem like production quantity should be straightforward, many new customers are understandably confused by some of the converting industry standards.
As you read through this list, think about your own intended project quantity and consider asking a converter directly if you have any further questions about orders.
MYTH #1: YOU’LL ALWAYS RECEIVE THE EXACT ORDER AMOUNT
Before you panic, allow me to explain.
Exact product quantity amounts can vary due to industry standards.
In converting, it’s common for orders to follow a ±10% part rule, meaning that ordering 100 parts could result in an outcome of anywhere from 90 to 110, depending on the converter and that particular production run.
This rule exists because custom parts can be unpredictable, and the first press run could be far more challenging or easier than expected. A more complex product could lead to higher errors and result in only 90 acceptable parts. However, if the part ran smoothly on the press, the converter might send the customer even slightly more than the original order asked.
So, why does this matter? Suppose you absolutely need a highly specific number of parts. In that case, it’s in your best interest to clarify so converters can adjust the order accordingly so your project is less likely to encounter issues due to quantity variability.
MYTH #2: ORDERING FEWER PARTS WILL REDUCE YOUR COST PROPORTIONALLY
From a surface-level perspective, it seems simple: ordering fewer parts costs less, right? However, the production cost isn’t that simple when it comes to material converting.
For example, at Strouse, there is no minimum quantity order. As a result, customers could theoretically order a single, highly complex die cut, but the price would be higher due to our supplier’s material MOQ and the fixed set-up time/cost.
Suppliers sell flexible materials in specific supplier quantities which are often larger than a client needs for their project.
Suppose you needed 100 yards of material to make your product. The supplier might only sell quantities of 1,000 yards, meaning you’d need to purchase far more material than expected.
Ordering 100 yards worth of parts would therefore become more comparable to ordering 1,000 yards worth of parts because, regardless of the quantity, your converter would end up having to buy 1,000 yards of material either way.
Another factor to consider is the fixed cost of labor time and setup you’ll be paying regardless of part quantity.
Setting up the machine press to build 500 parts is the same as setting up the press for 50,000 parts. Therefore, you can get more value out of ordering higher quantities because you’ll receive far more from a single setup.
MYTH #3: MATERIAL QUANTITY = ORDER QUANTITY
The customer: “I sent you 100 yards of material. By my calculations, you should have sent us 36,000 parts!”
Us: “Did you account for the start and stop times of the press?”
In a perfect world, the amount of material used to fill an order would be directly proportional to the amount of space taken up by the design. Unfortunately, rotary die cutting will use more material than you might think.
To run a die cut part on a rotary press, a converter has to feed the material through the rotating dies to get started. Therefore, some of the material will already have been pulled through before the cutting even starts.
Additionally, the complexity of your part shape determines the width of the spaces between components. Complex shapes require more room on the die cut tools, whereas many simple shapes can be cut right up against one another.
The distance between parts affects the amount of parts you can fit in a specific area and the amount of wasted material.
Other production principles that could reduce your expected quantity apply to processes like slitting.
For instance, let’s say you sent a converter a 12-inch roll of material to slit into smaller, 1-inch rolls. You’d logically expect to receive 12 rolls that were 1-inch each.
Yet, if the ends of the original roll aren’t flushed, or square, a converter might trim it to even them out. As a result, you might receive 11 rolls that were 1-inch each and a single roll of 0.7 inches.
Remember, when placing your order or supplying your own material, the amount of material your converter uses won’t always match your initial expectations.
MYTH #4: BLANKET ORDERS CAN EXTEND INFINITELY
A Blanket Purchase Order (BPO) is a quantity of parts that you purchase in advance for planned deliveries. These deliveries often come in quarterly releases (or the period which fits the customer’s needs).
Although blanket purchase orders are an excellent way to plan your product orders for consistency, it’s worth noting that they don’t extend indefinitely.
There are multiple reasons for this:
- Supplier prices change, and so will the price of materials
- Project timelines adjust, and so does production
- The adhesive shelf life of the material could expire
Because of these factors, blanket orders tend to extend for 3-4 months. BPOs are essentially terms between the customer and the converter, so they’re often subject to prior approval.
Deciding upon your order quantity isn’t always easy, and you want to guarantee that you’re receiving the best amount of parts in the most efficient way possible.
Yet, various factors, such as product adhesive shelf life and available storage space, could significantly impact what and how much you order.
The best way to plan for your individual project needs is by reaching out to a converter early on to discuss your product component so they can help you plan and execute the most efficient process.
Are you hoping to learn more about production, design, and project planning? Take a look at our Learning Center for more information on particular design solutions, industry tips, and more.