Supply Chains for Composite and Polyurethane Materials

One of the major challenges for many companies is streamlining the supply chain. The design engineer locates the materials required for a task, the program manager approves it, and the buyer purchases it. Next, begins the process of locating and vetting vendors who can process and assemble the materials into a final product.

composite materials

Many companies saw increased productivity and success after consolidating to a single-supplier solution for producing polyurethane and composite foam products. General Plastics have identified five points to show how consolidating vendors can save time, money, and supply chain headaches. These are based on years of manufacturing experience.


Starting with raw material which has been machined, primed, painted and finished, fabricating a complex assembly needs several different abilities and means working with a few vendors, leading to inefficiencies.

Multiple companies must be managed, additional in-house resources must be used for assembly, and parts that don’t fit perfectly together must be dealt with. When the number of suppliers is reduced, it simplifies the buying and vetting process, supplies consistency, and enhances product quality overall.

The ideal one-stop shop requires a large scope of expertise and specialized skills, for example, tooling, assembling, machining, molding, and bonding dissimilar materials together. One client of General Plastics was using products to fabricate an underwater flotation device. Last time, they purchased General Plastics’ foam, shipped it to another vendor for machining, and then it was shipped to a third vendor for painting.

Since then, their relationship has evolved so that we not only make the material, but also do all of the machining, painting, and finishing before delivering them a final product.  By utilizing General Plastics’ value-added services, lead times were cut in half, their supply chain was simplified, and overall costs were reduced by a third.

Cost Savings

When sourcing materials and vendors, the project budget is top of mind, but the default choice is to select the cheapest bids available. Yet, a supply chain best practice is to choose the supplier with the lowest all-in cost, which also meets the criteria of on-time delivery, flexibility, reliability, and performance.

composite materials

Over time, working with a qualified supplier to mitigate risks in the supply chain and reduce costs produces more savings in the long run than choosing the lowest bidder each time.

The consolidation of the supply base is another overarching aim of supply chain professionals. Selecting reliable full-service (turnkey) suppliers who can provide multi-step processes in-house helps with negotiating lower costs (because of the increased spend with the supplier), reduces shipping and transactional costs, and minimizes painful inaccuracies between steps.

General Plastics provide complete production and fabrication services, in addition to working with customers on unit pricing to help mitigate costs and bridge a minimum purchase number. Furthermore, they supply a proven effective inventory management strategy, maintaining established min-max levels to assist customers in managing their operating costs, including handling and storage costs.

Quality Assurance

Locating qualified, trustworthy vendors is vital to any project’s success. Contracting with a low bidder that delivers inadequate products can end up increasing your all-in costs through rework, rejections, and increased administrative costs, which is a possible risk to the overall project. Instead, experienced companies should be looked at, with compliance with industry regulations, proper ISO certifications, and internal quality systems.

composite materials

For example, a medical components company was utilizing a subpar supplier, which was causing loss of revenue. They turned to General Plastics due to their attention to detail, project management skills, and capability to supply finished products at a high production rate. The client was so satisfied with General Plastics performance that they are now using them as their go-to manufacturer to produce even more of their products.

Customer Support

In the manufacturing process, there will always be challenges. The question is the kind of customer support vendors will provide. Are they unhelpful and unresponsive, or attentive and quick to engage? When challenges occur, it is easier dealing with one supplier to find the root cause of the problem than speaking to multiple companies.

Customer support is more than just issue resolution and on-time delivery. General Plastics possess the technical knowledge to help you make product improvements and early design decisions with long-term impact on performance and cost.

A telecommunications company approached General Plastics as it required a real-world solution to its theoretical 5G networking concept. General Plastics worked alongside the company to address its thermoforming and assembly concerns and invent the necessary formulations to deliver a full assembly.

Time Savings

When you are working on a large, multifaceted project, each second counts. So lead time is often as important as cost. Of course, consolidating vendors helps to reduce the amount of time spent transporting and integrating separate parts, so the key is to locate a multidisciplinary supplier with a good track record for excellent on-time delivery and customer ratings.

General Plastics work closely with each company to identify opportunities to optimize the entire manufacturing process and decrease lead time through consolidation.

For instance, they manufactured composite tooling for one of their longtime customers, which was based on 3D patterns they would supply. General Plastics invested in 3D printing machines to expand their skills and took over the process of creating 3D tooling patterns. This service saved hundreds of hours of engineering manpower and 3D printing time, subsequently freeing up valuable resources for pursuing more opportunities.

Next Steps for Simplifying Your Supply Chain

General Plastics should be considered when looking for a dependable provider of end-to-end composites and polyurethane solutions that will save time, money, and in-house resources.

Often, buyers and engineers are surprised to learn that General Plastics are more than a materials supplier. It helps you to innovate new solutions, supply in-house production services, and free up time for new opportunities to be pursued.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by General Plastics Manufacturing.

For more information on this source, please visit General Plastics Manufacturing.


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