4 Ways SharkBite Manages High Product Quality
How we control our manufacturing process to produce the best plumbing solutions.
A lot of things make up a good product: ease of use, efficiency, value. But nothing is more important than quality. We know every product you use or recommend to customers has the chance to make or break your reputation. We take this extremely seriously, which is why we only make products of the highest quality. The only way a company can truly guarantee a superior product is to own the manufacturing processes from start to finish, and we do that.
From raw materials to the assembly process, we control it all for SharkBite. Not everyone can say that about their products. SharkBite PEX tubing, EvoPEX systems and other core fittings are manufactured in RWC’s Cullman, Alabama, facility. The result: Top quality products that plumbers can rely on for years.
How do you know you can stake your reputation on SharkBite products? Take a look at some quality control elements of our manufacturing process.
1. Materials of Construction
We've all heard it: You get what you pay for. Cheaper products made from cheaper materials may save you a couple bucks up front, but you’ll sacrifice your reputation in the long run when they don't last.
Our engineering team specializes in picking the best materials for different plumbing applications. They know what’s tried-and-true and which new options could be beneficial. For example, we choose dezincification-resistant brass for SharkBite brass push fittings so the material doesn't degrade in hard water conditions. We use chlorine/chloramine-resistant EPDM O-rings for a similar reason: It touches water the most and needs to withstand chemicals and fluctuating temperatures.
Why it matters: The materials used for fitting components will affect how reliable that connection is 10 or 20 years from now. No one wants to lose money and credibility because a low-quality fitting failed and caused you to redo a job. A well-made product you can rely on is key.
2. Assembly Quality Assurance
In addition to good materials, you need smart processes to ensure products are made right.
Before we make fittings, we inspect the raw material — which we get from suppliers we know and trust — so we have the right supplies. Then, during construction and assembly, we have processes that confirm specs are correct.
First, cameras and measurement sensors on machinery work as automated eyes that are trained to detect certain flaws in production. They’ll reject a product when it finds an error. Then, at the end of the line, we manually inspect for anything the camera might not see, such as surface finishes and cracks. These two processes work together to manage both human and automated errors.
Why it matters: Because we make fittings in-house, if something needs to be fixed, we can do it much faster because we can control when and how to adjust. Subcontracting to an offshore supplier, on the other hand, can leave manufacturers in the dark. They may not know who else is in the supply chain, if the offshore supplier is sourcing raw material correctly and what manufacturing changes are made day to day without their knowledge.
3. Rigorous Product Testing
Plumbing manufacturers have to meet a set industry standard in order to sell their products. This includes pressure and temperature testing, lead-free requirements and more. SharkBite has testing thresholds that go above those industry standards.
For example, ASSE 1061, which outlines performance requirements for push-fit fittings, says our push-to-connect fitting has to withstand 3 times the maximum rated working pressure, which is 600 psi. Our standard is much higher. Plus, we perform much of our testing in house. So if there’s a hurdle, we can solve the issue and quickly re-test.
Why it matters: We intentionally push the limits so you know SharkBite push-to-connect fittings can withstand the demands of the system and stand the test of time.
4. Continuous Improvement
Our director of quality and continuous improvement constantly evaluates how we can be better. That means testing machines to make sure they’re consistent, running secondary tests, and finding and solving the root cause issues of product errors when they arise. A big part of this process is user feedback, which helps us quickly evaluate products and processes and find areas to improve.
Why it matters: If there is an issue with a product, we can solve it more quickly than manufacturers who outsource to an offshore supplier. Because we own the entire manufacturing process, we adopt a higher standard of reliability and customer service too. This also helps ensure quality is always put before sales.
How to Shop for High Quality Fittings
So what can you trust? When picking fittings for your next job, here are some questions to ask:
- Do you know what materials it’s made of? How transparent about materials is the brand? Can you find that information on their website or packaging?
- Do you know where the product is coming from? Is it made in their own facility or made elsewhere?
- What’s the brand’s legacy in the market? How long have they been in production, and what’s their reputation? Check reviews and read up on the company history.
Plumbing Standards You Can Count On
With SharkBite, there are many features that go above and beyond other players in the industry:
- We have over 70 years of innovation in the industry.
- You don’t need special tools to assemble SharkBite fittings.
- We control raw material, assembly and the final quality inspection in real time rather than batching with multiple sub-suppliers.
- Products are tested above the limits of code requirements for superior performance.
- Over 550 million SharkBite connections have been made across the globe.
- Our fittings can be used with copper, PEX, PVC, CPVC, polybutylene, HDPE and PE-RT.
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