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The Hidden Costs of Managing Multiple Mil-Spec Connector Manufacturers

Shopping around to purchase items from different vendors is often assumed to be the best way to get a good deal. That approach may work for a grocery run, where one store sells cheaper eggs, another has more affordable bread and so on. But when it comes to sourcing electrical components, there are hidden costs tied to using multiple mil-spec connector manufacturers.

The hard cost of buying military connectors — that is, the end price paid for the component — is one part of the equation. Then, there are the soft costs that come from working with multiple mil-spec connector manufacturers: the time it takes to manage all the relationships, the reduced purchasing and negotiation power, issues with product quality and delays.

As we dig deeper into the hidden costs you may be paying by working with multiple military-style connector manufacturers, we’ll look at how you could instead save time, reduce costs and build stronger relationships by consolidating your inventory of suppliers.

Diluted Purchasing Power With Spot Buys

Making several low-sum or low-volume connector purchases across many different suppliers can put you at a disadvantage because it dilutes your overall purchasing power.

One of the advantages of working with a single connector manufacturer who meets all your needs is that it lets you optimize your economic order quantity. This is a well-studied corporate finance theory and formula supporting the idea that, for any given purchase, there is an optimal number of orders a company can make to minimize the total costs related to ordering, receiving and holding the inventory.

The production model may sound complicated but, in practice, it’s much simpler. When you buy more connectors from fewer manufacturers – placing blanket orders instead of making spot buys – you have stronger buying power, which means you’re better positioned to negotiate for bulk pricing and preferable contract terms. Placing larger volume orders less frequently can further reduce shipping, handling or transaction fees versus placing several smaller orders from different suppliers.

At Amerline, we’ll quote you based on your Estimated Annual Usage (EAU) quantities and, with a blanket order in place, we’ll implement a stocking program for you. You can eliminate the high cost of spot buys and know that inventory will be in stock for you when the connectors are needed.

Increased Time Handling Relationships

Working with fewer connector suppliers means less time spent handling vendor relationships.  

By itself, having a few extra connector manufacturers on the roster may not seem like much hassle but the vetting, internal processes, paperwork, meetings and overall management responsibilities can all quickly add up. Establishing a strong buyer-supplier relationship takes time and the more supplier relationships there are to manage, the more that workload grows for internal teams.

With military-style connectors, for example, there are several considerations in choosing the right connector and the right supplier. The number and types of contacts, how the receptacle will be mounted and whether a permanent installation is required all factor into the buying decision.

From there, it’s a matter of finding the ideal connector manufacturer who can meet the needs of your application — and those needs may differ depending on how many different styles of connectors are required and for what purposes. It may seem like the easier solution is to work with a separate supplier for each one, but finding a single circular mil-spec connector manufacturer who can meet all your requirements saves significant time in the long run.

At Amerline, for example, we have decades of experience serving the military industry and understand that mil-spec connectors need to accommodate various mission-critical applications. That’s why we offer a comprehensive line of MS-equivalent connectors. Sourcing your connectors from a single organization significantly reduces procurement and processing times, giving your internal team more bandwidth to focus on other business priorities.

Higher Cost of Customization

The need for connector customization is another common reason for turning to multiple suppliers — one for stock options and another for custom work.

But just like there are benefits in working with a single manufacturer for all your electrical connector needs, businesses can realize significant cost and time savings by working with a supplier who can handle both standard and custom work in-house. These customizations can range from product modifications to completely new designs depending on your application.

Let’s say, for instance, your connector-driven product will be used in harsh conditions and needs to be better protected from external elements like moisture, vibrations, dust or abrasion. This leads you down the path of looking for an overmolding solution.

Cable overmolding, however, is often outsourced to manufacturers overseas which drives up costs due to shipping, tariffs and fees. You may also find that there are higher minimum-order volume requirements in addition to these costs, leaving you purchasing more inventory than is really necessary.

Likewise, turning to overseas suppliers for custom connectors and cable assemblies can lead to costly delays. Ongoing global supply chain disruptions are already causing delays across industries, including connector manufacturing, and working with multiple international vendors can translate into longer lead times to get the parts you need.

On the other hand, working with a one-stop manufacturer like Amerline reduces customization costs by keeping these design and production services in-house and domestic. Our overmolding process, for example, takes place at our headquarters in Illinois which means you’ll receive your customized parts faster and at a more competitive price.

Weaker Partnerships With Suppliers

Developing a strong relationship with a single manufacturer able to meet all your needs, rather than splitting the focus between multiple vendors, ultimately leads to a stronger partnership.

For one, consolidating connector suppliers means you’re able to develop more efficient and streamlined processes. More energy can be focused on that single core relationship, improving communication and collaboration needed to produce innovative products and address any issues that might arise. It also allows more attention to be spent on quality control and supply chain connections, which reduces risks in the long term.

One of the greatest benefits of working so closely with a core connector supplier is when the connector design and manufacturing team can develop a deep understanding of your unique goals and requirements — a process that takes time and communication, but pays dividends.

Partnering with the Right Mil-Spec Connector Manufacturer

The first step to consolidating connector manufacturers is finding the optimal partner who can meet all your needs: technical requirements and custom requests, yes, but also time and cost variables.

At Amerline, we pride ourselves on the relationships we develop with our clients. Seeing your project through from the development phase to its timely shipment, our experts will help you select the proper tooling, materials and customizations to deliver the ideal solution tailored to your needs and budget. We’ll help you eliminate the high cost of spot buys with a stocking program for blanket orders to make sure your connectors are ready for you when you need them.

If you’re currently facing any of these hidden costs from working with several circular connector suppliers, it may be time to make the switch to a new manufacturing partner. Learn more about building the business case for consolidating suppliers and what else to consider in that decision.


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