Industries that rely on specialized machinery require a reliable supply of oils and greases to keep that machinery running. Each individual business within an industry sector must make decisions about where to get the right materials at reasonable wholesale prices. Here are 8 questions to ask your industrial lubricant distributor.
What Are the Quality Assurance Procedures?
Receiving inferior quality or mislabeled industrial lubricants can be disastrous for your operation. Whether your industry involves power plants to run turbines you’re in the aviation field, the wrong oils can ruin machinery, require shutdowns, and incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses and repair costs.
Industrial oil manufacturers know that their reputations depend on quality control and quality assurance. They select distributors based on a level of confidence that the distributor can handle their product appropriately, represent it accurately, and prepare it for transport safely.
Any reputable industrial oil distributor should be able to describe their quality assurance program, explaining how products are maintained, protected from contamination, and correctly labeled prior to transport.
This is important for all applications but critical in food service and supply businesses. Machinery that comes into contact with food intended for human consumption must use only FDA-approved food-grade lubricants.
What Is the Complete Product Line?
What is the distributor’s complete available product line? Do they carry well-known, long-trusted brands you feel confident using? Even if your needs are limited to just one type of oil or grease product, find out as much as you can about the complete collection of products the distributor offers. This will give you a sense of the confidence major producers have in the producer you are considering.
It isn’t necessary for a distributor to represent every major oil producer on the planet. But they should be able to offer you a choice between several well-known brands of lubricants for your operation, whether metalworking, manufacturing, food production, or aviation and aerospace.
Do They Have Minimum Orders and Volume Discounts?
Ask the distributor if they have a minimum order requirement and if they offer volume discounts. The best outcome of your search for an industrial lubricant distributor would be a reliable, long-term arrangement that meets your need for quality products within your budget.
Distributors require minimum orders and offer volume discounts because these afford them efficiencies in their warehouses that save them money. In many cases, they can pass some of those savings on to their customer.
What Circumstances Affect Pricing Consistency, Payment Terms, and Total Cost?
When a good deal seems too good to be true, ask what circumstances could cause prices to change. Ask your distributor to give you their best take on the volatile commodity market and how that could affect the prices they charge you for the lubricants you need. When the commodity price goes up, how soon will that increase be reflected in your bill? Will the current inventory retain current pricing, or do external conditions require the distributor to increase prices on oil that’s already in barrels in their storage facilities?
Payment terms are also a critical question to ask your industrial lubricant distributor. Your order size may impact whether you’ll be expected to pay upfront or if you’ll have time after delivery (usually 15, 30, or 60 days) to submit payment for your order.
Price is just one element of cost. Shipping costs have been through the roof and don’t show much promise of coming down anytime soon. But in addition to shipping, does your distributor charge fees for packaging, palleting, or labeling the product? Get specifics of all the charges you’d incur from the distributor in addition to shipping.
Do They Have Proof of Insurance?
Distributors should be able to offer you proof of insurance that covers liability for recalls, product quality issues that cause damage to your business, or other potential risks. The certificate of insurance should be up to date and specific, usually for a minimum of one million dollars.
Of course, you, as the buyer, should also check with your insurance company about potential risks to you in purchasing bulk or barrels of industrial lubricants and ensure that you are covered for those risks, as necessary.
When Does Ownership Shift?
Pin down at what point ownership of the lubricants you have purchased shift to you, the buyer. Surprisingly, ownership usually shifts to the buyer of industrial lubricants the moment it leaves the distributor’s facility. If something happens to it in transit, ownership at the time of the accident will be a critical fact to establish.
Can They Provide Hose-End Samples?
For large orders, but also for smaller ones, it is imperative to obtain a hose-end sample of the product to be delivered to you so you can have it tested for purity and chemical composition. You want to be sure that the product you receive is the product you ordered. This is critical for the proper operation of your machinery or aircraft, and you shouldn’t skip this step. Get the distributor to commit to providing a sample from the hose of the truck that delivers the product to you for bulk orders of oil.
What Happens When There Is Supply Chain Disruption?
Everyone is in the same boat (literally, in some cases) when it comes to pandemic-era supply chain problems. Ask your potential distributors how they can ensure that your needs will still be met in the event of a supply chain disruption. Is the product drilled, refined, and produced in the country where your facilities are located? Or does it move from tanker to refinery to distributor in a series of intercontinental moves?
Understand that you might not always be able to obtain the identical product you bought the last time. Your distributor should be able to assure you that they will be able to supply an equivalent product of the same quality and purity as the brand you purchased last time. It’s important to know the answer to this question before your first shipment arrives.
Wholesale oil distributors should be able to answer these questions and any others with ease before you place an order. Pay attention to customer service, responsiveness, and experience.
Santie Oil Company has been serving the aviation, aerospace, manufacturing, and metalworking industries with a selection of high-quality industrial lubricants offered wholesale since 1948. Contact Santie to discuss your needs for industrial oils and greases and to have all your questions answered courteously and completely.