9 Essential Questions to Ask a Food Processing Equipment Manufacturer or Supplier
Purchasing new food manufacturing equipment is a big investment with a lot of variables. The impact of the investment will be felt in the short-term and long into the future. It’s important to partner with the right manufacturer to ensure the impact of your investment is positive.
Whether you are investing in a new production line or an individual piece of equipment, the following nine questions will help you assess the capabilities of the manufacturer / supplier.
What level of experience do you have?
Experience in delivering the type of solution that you need is essential given the specific challenges of food production and the regulatory requirements. A general level of knowledge is not enough, nor is experience in other parts of the food production sector. Instead, the manufacturer or supplier should fully understand your industry and its needs.
Ideally, the food manufacturer or supplier that you partner with should have experience with the type of products you produce.
Do you have engineering design expertise and the ability to work with in-house engineering and production management teams?
The success of most projects, particularly larger-scale production line solutions, is dependent on the engineering and design stages. It is important your equipment partner has high-quality engineering and design expertise, as well as the ability to work with the engineering and production management teams you have in-house.
What components and equipment do you use?
The food processing equipment manufacturer or supplier that you partner with will use components and equipment from other manufacturers. It’s important these components and equipment meet your requirements.
At SF Engineering, for example, we use high-quality belts from leading manufacturers like Intralox for the conveyors we manufacture. If we recommend an Intralox belt, we can provide our customer with a clear rationale and return on investment calculations.
We also partner with leading equipment suppliers such as Ishida, Marelec, and Ceia to maintain the highest standards and ensure we can meet the requirements of our customers, however complex those requirements are.
Do you have testing capabilities, including proof of concept testing for complex solutions?
There are often situations when investing in new food processing equipment where it is beneficial to test the solution. Therefore, it is important your partner has those capabilities.
Again, we can use our experience at SF Engineering as an example. We regularly test concepts and solutions in-house in our manufacturing facility. We also regularly arrange proof of concept tests in conjunction with our equipment suppliers at their locations. These tests give peace of mind to our customers, while also giving our engineers valuable information that is used to further refine the solution before it goes into final production.
How will you ensure the solution meets future requirements in addition to today’s needs?
When investing in new food processing equipment, it is important to consider your future requirements and plans as well as your needs today. The equipment partner that you choose should also have this eye on the future.
Where is the equipment manufactured?
This question is about getting an understanding of the capabilities of your equipment partner, in addition to the logistics that will be involved. Will your equipment partner contract out parts of the manufacturing process, for example, or do they have full in-house capabilities?
What are the lead times?
Understanding the current capacity of your equipment partner and the expected lead times for your new solution are essential for planning. You have plans for your food processing facility that are often driven by pressing challenges, such as meeting anticipated customer demand or improving inefficient processes. Can your equipment partner deliver the solution that will help solve these challenges within your expected timeframe?
What parts, servicing, and maintenance support do you offer?
The support you receive after the equipment has been installed is just as important as the support you receive pre-installation.
Where are the support teams based? Who will deliver the support and what are their levels of skills and experience? What are the lead times on critical parts? What service level agreements (SLAs) does the manufacturer or supplier offer? These are examples of the questions you should ask.
When can I expect a return on investment?
Ultimately, the investment you make in new food processing equipment should deliver a return on investment. The manufacturing partner or supplier that you choose should be able to demonstrate a clear track record of delivering ROI on previous projects, in addition to projecting an anticipated return on investment for your project.
Choosing a Food Processing Equipment Manufacturer or Supplier You Can Depend On
At SF Engineering, we have experience answering questions like those on this blog because of our extensive experience delivering solutions for the food processing industry. To get specific answers to any of the above questions in relation to your requirements, or to discuss the solution you need, please contact a member of our team today.