Purchase Orders

The purchase order is a vital part of our business, so I thought it would be a good idea to cover the issue in a blog. It can be included with the parts as the packing slip, or otherwise sent to us, but it is important that we have it. It gives us permission to process your parts at the agreed-upon price. Our customer service department uses it to generate the sales order, part of which travels around with the parts and part of which stays with our production manager. It tells our shipping department where to send the parts, and is used to generate the sales invoice or to charge the work to your credit card. In other words, nothing happens without a purchase order.
So, what should be on a purchase order?
1. First of all, your company name, billing address, and shipping address (if different from your shipping address). Always a good idea.
2. Second, a valid purchase order number. We use the number to track your orders. Simplest way to generate a purchase order number is to use the date. For example, if you are preparing the purchase order on April 15, 2016, a simple order number would be 041516-01, the 01 indicating it is the first purchase order you are writing that day.
3. Our name should be somewhere on the purchase order. This way we know that the parts have not been sent to us by mistake. This has happened on more than one occasion.
4. Tell us how you want the parts shipped back to you. We normally will ship FEDEX ground, but we can also ship UPS or even common carrier (for heavy loads). If you want us to ship on your account, provide the account number for us to charge it to.
5. A date for when you would hope that we can possibly get the parts back to you. If you are taking part in our Small Order Program, it helps to mark the order as such to make sure the shipping date is secured.
6. Let us know what you want done to the parts. We can make this very easy for you – most of our finishes are numbered. If, for instance, you send us a part in raw brass or steel and want it to have a polished PVD brass finish, you simply call for it to have PVD polished brass 40. The part will then be polished, vapor degreased, plated with bright nickel and trivalent chrome, and finally put in our vacuum chamber for deposition of a PVD brass-colored finish.
7. We have to know what you are sending us, and what to charge you. This information is best displayed in a table. The table should list each of the parts as a separate item. Here’s what we need in the table.
a. An item number.
b. The quantity.
c. A part number (if available). If not available, we’ll create numbers. Part numbers allow us to track the parts in our computer system.
d. A very brief description of the part. If you have not listed what needs to be done to the parts elsewhere, you can include this in the part description.
e. The price per part. (We should have provided you with a formal price quotation for the work before you send the parts for processing. If we haven’t, or if you want us to process parts that are not on the price quotation, let us know and we will take care of it.)
f. It would be nice to have the total price for each item (i.e., quantity times price per part).
8. It would be nice to have the total price listed at the bottom of the table, but we can add so this is not that important.
9. Some orders fall beneath our minimum lot charge. How do you know what the minimum lot charge is for the work you want done? Easy – we tell you, on the price quotation for the work. If you do not have a price quotation, let us know.
10. A signature would be nice, telling us that you give us your permission to process your parts at the agreed upon price. Not a deal breaker, though – we assume that if you provide us with a purchase order, we are good to go.
Now for some tips:
• Try to send us one purchase order per finish to be applied. It makes it much easier to track your parts.
• Don’t use the same part number for two different items, or the same description for two different part numbers.
• Don’t assume we know which part is which. Our staff is very familiar with faucet parts, but not so much with parts from other industries. Pictures will help.
• Make sure there are no contradictions in the PO. For example, if the parts are all supposed to come to us polished, make sure the description in the listing does not say “mill finish” or “brushed”.
• The most important thing to remember is that the purchase order rules. If we have any questions about the purchase order, any discrepancies, everything stops until we have clarified the issues with you. What this means is that your parts go back to the end of the line!
You can find suitable templates in Microsoft Word for purchase orders. If you have any problem with any of this, please feel free to contact me. I can set you up with the first purchase order and make it easy for you to covert it as needed for future work.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Small Order Program

OK, you’d love to have some of your parts PVD coated. You love the finish, the colors, the durability But PVD is a bulk process, and you never have enough parts for a full production run. You know that the deposition is done in a very large vacuum chamber and pretty much takes the same time and money to run whether there is one part in the chamber or it is fully loaded. Hence, small orders come often with large minimum lot charges. On top of that, the parts never seem to get done. You have to constantly check with them, remind them that you exist, and try to get an update on when the parts will be ready to ship.
Now most companies don’t really care about small orders, even those that are much smaller than us. Our view is that happy customers are our best advertising. Even if your business will never be significant, by working with you and other small users of the process more people will become familiar with our company and our technology, and, over time, the small orders will lead to big orders. So, we have decided to create a Small Order Program. Small orders by our definition are orders of less than around $1,000 for each PVD finish. Here is what we have in mind:
• Reduce or eliminate minimum lot charges for PVD only jobs for standard finishes (gold, black, nickel, and brass). Minimum lot charges are usually needed to cover the cost to administer the purchase order – write the sales order, invoice the account, et al. What we are hoping to do in what follows is arrange things in such a way that we reduce the paperwork costs dramatically. We can’t do this across the board, however. Projects that require us to plate the parts before PVD coating, for example, require more paperwork and so will still have to have a minimum lot charge. We may also need a minimum for non-standard colors, such as rainbow.
• Set a fixed monthly delivery date. As you may have experienced, small orders have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle. Most processing facilities do the same thing we do – piggy-back the small orders on larger orders. Problem is, sometimes there is no room in the inn, so the small orders have to wait until their color is run and even then they might not get into the chamber. Of course, they can also get “lost” in the wash…. Our new concept is to set one fixed delivery date each month by or before which all small order parts received by a fixed date the previous month will be shipped. We are looking at the fixed date as the first Friday of the first full work week of each month. For example, February 5th would be the ship by date for all orders received by the 21st of January, for PVD only, or the 15th if other process steps are needed.
• Require payment by credit card. We like to work with net 30 terms. It makes it easy to include shipping in the price. However, it requires us to send out invoices, then track whether or not you’ve paid. So, to reduce paperwork, we’ll go with credit card payments. Note that it will cost you 3% more.
• Require proper paperwork. One of the other problems we have with small orders is paperwork, namely purchase orders matching the actual parts that are sent to us. So here is what we will need from you:
o Purchase order and credit card authorization at time of delivery of parts to be processed.
o Purchase order should list all of the parts with part numbers, quantities, and price per part.
o Purchase order will also spell out clearly what you want done to the parts.
o Purchase order must include shipping address.
• Limit the program to businesses and new finishes. This is a business-to-business deal, so individuals who want to have a set of faucets coated, for example, are not included. Also, we cannot do this for re-finishing jobs.
So that is the jist of the program. Let me know if you are interested. If you are, I will work with you to set you up in the program. Of course, feel free to let me know if there are any changes you would like in what I have proposed. It really doesn’t do us much good to have a program that our customers won’t participate in. You can reach me on my cell at 619 990-3598, or email me at jtreglio@afccorp.net. Or post a response to this blog.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Placing orders

We offer over 100 different finishes. Most of these finishes are numbered, and listed on a finishing table. All you need to know is the name and number of the finish, and you’re ready to order. Well, maybe not…
Processing steps. In a recent blog, I discussed the various metals that can be finished, and how we make most of our faucets out of brass. Hence, as you might expect, our finishes are brass oriented – that is, the finish code spells out how a brass part is to be handled. For example, for PVD Sigma Gold 44 the part is polished to a high sheen, vapor degreased (to remove the polishing debris), bright nickel electroplated, trivalent chromium electroplated, then PVD coated with a ceramic finish that looks just like 24 ct. gold. We also have a PVD Satin Gold 45. If that finish is called out, the part is brushed, vapor degreased, dull (satin) nickel electroplated, trivalent chromium electroplated, then PVD coated with a ceramic finish that looks just like 24 ct. gold. Note that the last two steps are identical for the two finishes.
You can see how things can get a bit confusing for parts to come to us that are not raw brass. Of course, we generally know what is what. If the part is steel, we’ll do all the same steps as for the brass, but the plating will be done in a different set of tanks. If the part is stainless steel, we’ll just skip the plating steps. If the part is already polished, we’ll go directly to the plating steps.
Patinas. Not all of our finishes are base metal independent. For example, a patina is not a coating, but rather a chemical change in the metal surface. The coloration is achieved by dipping the metal in an oxidizing bath. The bath is specific to a metal, and, since we deal mostly with brass, our patina baths are specific to copper and copper alloys.
The patina appearance depends on a number of variables – chemical composition of the bath, copper alloying metals, time in the bath, temperature of the bath, surface texture of the part, et al. Putting a patina finish on a part is more of an art than a science. Patinas are also “living” finishes, i.e., they change with time unless protected, usually with a clear lacquer coating or wax.
Patinas can also be relieved. Relieving is a process where the patina surface is scratched or otherwise scraped down to the base metal in selective areas to create a different look. For example, Antique Bronze Coated 34 can be turned into Distressed Antique Bronze Coated 34D. Same patina as 34, but with “cracks” showing the brass base. A clear coat keeps these finishes stable.
There are other finishes besides patinas that are not available for all substrates. For example, we offer Polished Brass Uncoated 33. That is just what it says – polished brass, and is limited to – surprise! – brass parts!
Color. We have over 100 finishes, but we don’t have over 100 colors. As noted above, the PVD coating for the PVD Sigma Gold 44 finish is the same as the PVD coating for the PVD Satin Gold 45 finish. But we also have a PVD Clear Gold that is the same color as the other two but uses a different recipe (one that results in a clearer gold finish), and to date does not have a number. Then we have a PVD French Gold 13, which is a lighter version of the Sigma Gold, and also a PVD Ti Gold, which is similar to 18 ct. gold (and also has not yet been given a number).
Then there is black. We have a Black Oil Rubbed Bronze 05, which is a patina and requires a brass substrate. We also offer Matte Black 18, a powder coat, PVD Polished Black 53, PVD Satin Black 46, PVD Clear Black, and PVD Ti Black. Oh, and, per my last blog, we have DLC, which is also black. You get the idea.
Plating. One would assume that since we only offer nickel and trivalent chromium electroplating (and copper, but I won’t get into that plating) ordering plating would be very simple. Obviously not, or I wouldn’t raise the issue. The first thing to keep in mind is that objects are plated both for appearance and corrosion protection. To this end, in addition to bright nickel and dull nickel, we also have semi-bright nickel. Both bright and dull nickel have sulfur additions, whereas semi-bright nickel is virtually sulfur free. As such, semi-bright nickel is nobler than the other two. It is used to deposit a more corrosion-resistant plating, duplex nickel, as described in a previous blog.
Ordering a plating is pretty easy if you want a chrome finish. It will be a little more difficult if you want a nickel finish, though. Nickel tarnishes, so if you want a tarnish-free nickel finish, then you can order it coated (lacquered), or, you can order either PVD Satin Nickel 42 or PVD Polished Nickel 43. Note that nickel with sulfur will tarnish more than sulfur-free nickel, so you can also consider going with semi-bright nickel plating.
This can all be a little intimidating, so let me tell you that it is not going to get easier. We strive to provide our customers with the best finishes for their products. To this end, we are constantly coming up with new finishes. So, if you are interested in some new finishing work, and don’t know what would be best, give me a call and we’ll muddle through it together…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment