Questions Your Tape Supplier Should Ask

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Many companies convert and sell tape products. Far fewer are interested in becoming a real partner. While the term “partner” is often overused in today’s business lingo, a reliable and knowledgeable supplier is a very valuable resource. Building a partnership takes time and effort, but the payoff is worth it with better service and the knowledge that you’re using the best tapes for your products or projects.

What Tapes?

Tapes have become indispensable in construction, transportation, and many other industries. Adhesive tapes are used to assemble panels, secure cladding and join other components. Glazing tape holds windows together while muntin mounting tapes allow attachment of trim parts that give them that classic architectural appeal. Tapes aren’t an afterthought; they’re an essential component in many construction and assembly tasks.

Does Your Tape Supplier Have The Knowledge To Be A Real Partner?

The best tape suppliers take the time to understand their customers’ particular demands of their business and industry. They speak the language. They’re committed to their customer’s success, and that means selling the tape products that work best, not what’s in inventory or hard to move. A deeper knowledge of what you’re doing helps a supplier recommend alternative products that might perform better while saving you time and money. A good way to gauge a supplier’s expertise and level of commitment is through the questions they ask. Here, separated out under four headings, are some to look for:

About The Operating Environment

  • What temperature range is needed? (Consider both the upper and lower limits as well as application temperature.)
  • Is UV resistance required? (This should always be considered when exposure to sunlight is likely.)
  • Will it be exposed to moisture rain, or other chemicals?
  • How much flexing or sway should be expected? (Buildings and vehicles all flex under load. It’s essential the tapes used in assembly can handle this movement.)

About How The Tape Itself

  • What materials are being bonded, protected, or sealed?
  • Is adhesive needed on one side or both?
  • Will it be applied by hand or by a dispenser?
  • What adhesive properties are needed?
    • Quick stick? Ultimate peel or cohesive strength?
    • The ability to be repositioned or removed at a later time ?
    • What is the current assembly and manufacturing process? What cost improvements can be made with labor, reduction of steps, materials workflow, etc..?

About Form Factor

  • Can you use rolls or do you need die cut parts?
  • What dimensions are required?
  • Would longer length spools help you to reduce changeovers? (great choice if you’re an extruder)
  • Do you need individual discrete parts or would having them kiss cut on a roll make more sense?

Regarding Logistics

  • Would frequent small deliveries be more convenient than one large shipment?
  • Are there any special requirements for pack formats or protective packaging?

Good Suppliers Invest Time In Relationship-building

Asking questions to learn about their needs takes time. Some tape suppliers don’t want to invest time or effort to build a relationship; they’d rather just take the order and move on. That short-term approach is  not going to benefit the tape buyer. Whether you’re in the construction industry or elsewhere, it pays to find suppliers who want to be partners. Partnerships are about a long-term approach to solving problems and delivering results. One way to evaluate prospective partners is by looking closely at questions they ask.
Rick Alexander

About the Author

Rick Alexander is the National Sales Manager for Tom Brown, Inc. His early experience was in R&D, product management, and sales management for both Main Tape and Adhesives Research, Inc. Rick brings over 40 years of pressure-sensitive tape experience and Tom Brown’s world class converting capabilities to help solve customer bonding, assembly, and sealing challenges.