Avoiding the pitfalls of display purchasing

When the design team provides sourcing recommendations for a display, they want to make purchasing easier, but does it really help? The answer is no – not without thorough supplier evaluation.

Most display manufacturers and suppliers are based in the Far East and although there are many products that seem good value, they aren’t necessarily the best buy. With a market this big, it is important to evaluate suppliers thoroughly, focussing primarily on the longevity of the supplier, their ability to support the product long term and continued availability beyond the development phase.

Supplier essentials
Once a supplier has been identified as able to supply product to your technical specifications, the supplier’s background should be researched. Find out how long the company has been in existence and whether it has the expertise to understand your product requirements.

It’s important to establish whether the firm outsources production or if it actually undertakes manufacturing. If it is simply a Far East sales office, what ability does it have to control product quality and what technical support is available?
Obviously, unit price is a key consideration, but while it might be cheaper to buy globally, costings should be reviewed carefully. Look at the shipping costs, import duties and credit availability, all of which will impact the end price. Establish also whether the supplier can offer credit facilities or buffer stock.

Another key factor is delivery. Find out if there is an agreement which details delivery schedules, or a clause which specifies costs if delays happen due to supplier failure. As display manufacturers produce to order, this needs to be established early on.

Finally, ask whether the supplier can guarantee availability long-term and establish what will happen if the product is phased out. Ensure end-of-life warnings will be guaranteed and establish whether an upgrade will be suggested. This is particularly important in the medical and military environments, where products are expensive and must also meet stringent approvals.

Source local
Despite the multitude of suppliers based in the Far East, there are several advantages for purchasers in buying from local suppliers, particularly from displays specialists, which may have specific expertise they can bring to bear.

As the title implies, a displays specialist, can offer more than just a quote on a part number. It should be able to provide in-depth product knowledge and technical support, plus advice on how the display might interact with other components in the application.

To get the full benefit of this expertise, a displays specialist will need to work with your engineering team prior to purchase. Discussions at an engineering level will establish the end-user application, the environment and any other technologies that are required to interact with the display, such as motherboards or touch screens. Once evaluation sample are approved, a detailed quotation will be submitted.

Throughout the process, regular interaction with the engineering team is crucial. In this way, the displays specialist will play a key part in ensuring the product is fit for purpose throughout its life. Whatever the application, a local displays specialist may have pertinent advice and relevant experience, ultimately making your life easier.