Premium Sourcing Case Study: Plastic Tile Case Study


This is a case study from our Premium Sourcing Service.

Issue: Optical table manufacturer was experiencing out-gassing from within the table. The smell was much like a new car. These molecules would then deposit on the optics mounted atop and literally cloud the research. The source of this gas was styrene in a plastic tile between the honeycomb substructure and the surface plate. The tile fabricator was not confident they could reduce the out-gassing. They further warned an increase in cost.

Action: This relatively long lived (over two years) project involved two tiles, English and metric. The manufacturer installed over 22K pieces a year. Strategic sourcing among 227 plastic and/or composite fabricators produced a 39% response rate and nine quotes. One source was selected with best quote including decreased price and low to no out-gassing tiles.

  1. Structural integrity was improved.
  2. An independent test lab confirmed extremely low out-gassing.
  3. Labor cost was reduced by testing at the source rather than receiving inspection.
  • $106,363 (40%) annual savings for the metric version tile.
  • $128,030 (41%) annual savings for the English version tile.

This case is a classic in optimizing total cost. The original tile fabricator was willing to reduce the price but lackadaisical at trying to improve quality. Perhaps with a significant increase in price they would have expedited research to improve the material. High pressure negotiations often lead to compromise. By thorough and systematic searching, an experienced and well informed source was located. This source was familiar with the customer’s needs and had the experience to optimize the total cost. Strategic sourcing proves “you get what you pay for,” to be a myth.

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