When choosing a metal fabrication partner, you’re not just buying components, you’re entering into a relationship that should be productive, supportive and communicative. A great metal fabrication partner does more than meet your production quotas. It should function as an extension of your organization that not only responds to your demands but also anticipates your needs.
In searching for a metal fabrication partner, don’t overlook these crucial qualities:
1. Equipment investment at the highest level
You want to choose a partner that invests frequently in state-of-the art technology to efficiently produce high-quality components. Cutting-edge equipment reflects forward-thinking management that wants the best for its clients and their products.
2. Intelligent internal logistics
Work-flow should make sense to an outsider. If you take a facility tour but can’t see an organized system, you can expect some internal dysfunction that will manifest in some kind of pain for customers, like late deliveries or higher-than-anticipated costs.
3. Lean manufacturing systems throughout the organization
A facility tour will give you a good impression of their housekeeping: Are things in their place or do you see a messy and unorganized work cell? Cleanliness and organization is a sign that the manufacturer values and is always working to improve its efficiency. If they can’t offer proof of these practices, how can they best serve your concerns and keep your production costs and lead times low?
4. Job tracking system throughout
You should ask to see how they track production. You want to see an established system that’s understood throughout the company, so when you call with questions, anyone can answer them. A thorough tracking system not only gives you peace of mind during the project, it proves the company truly knows its job costs.
People are a huge part of business relationships. Even a partnership that seems great on paper could fail if the personal dynamics don’t mesh.
6. Quality processes and procedures
You’ve built a company based on certain standards, and those need to be met in every aspect of the business, especially metal fabrication. Thoroughly research a potential partner’s processes to make sure they’re on par with your expectations of component quality.
A good partnership is a bit like a puzzle: For two pieces to fit together, one has to have something the other doesn’t. If there’s overlap, things just don’t work as well. Look for a partner that enhances your process by offering equipment and personnel that you don’t regularly maintain.
8. Available capacity
Sometimes, it’s all about the numbers. Can they handle your workload? If not, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
9. Strong financial position
If you’ll have to find another partner because they won’t be around next year, why dedicate your resources to integrating them into your production?
10. Referrals from industry peers
There’s nothing more powerful than the opinion of customers. Look for a partner whose clients can speak to a metal fabricator’s abilities as well as their marketing department.
11. It should feel like a partnership, not a transaction.
To get a satisfactory outcome, both sides of a business relationship need to communicate with each other. There should be a sense of mutual respect and confidence that each party is doing its best to reach business goals.
12. Fresh talent
An experienced staff is valuable, but be sensitive to a company’s appetite for innovation. There’s always a way to do things better, without flexibility and a willingness to improve, a partner could hold you back, rather than move your organization forward.
13. Budgeted capital investment in their own growth
Try to think about the company’s future as part of your own. What’s their five-year plan? How are they working to strengthen their business, so they can continue to deliver what you need?
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a metal fabrication partner, but putting together a checklist of your expectations can be a huge help. Remember that this decision is as much about fabrication quality as it is about personality: A true collaboration will not only be more enjoyable to manage, it will likely deliver better tangible results.