When you’re ordering custom parts from an outside manufacturer, you know that your own company’s ability to meet deadlines and produce a viable final product is resting on this outside manufacturer’s ability to deliver a quality product to you in a timely fashion.
Because your company’s reputation might have to depend on the quality and speed of the custom parts manufacturer you’re dealing with, it’s important to know whether or not if the other manufacturer can make a satisfactory part on time before you commit to a purchase.
With this in mind, here are a few questions to ask your custom parts manufacturer before buying parts from them:
What Kinds of Materials Will You Use?
Material choice is incredibly important in the manufacture of custom components. Your custom parts manufacturer’s material choice should provide a good balance of cost-effectiveness and long-term viability for the final product.
For example, if the parts you’re ordering are going to be exposed to mildly caustic environments or moisture, then plain steel, while cheap, wouldn’t be a good choice of material since it wouldn’t last long in a mildly caustic environment. Grade 316 stainless steel, on the other hand, would be overkill since the corrosives that the part will be exposed to aren’t that powerful, and the material is fairly costly.
Here, grade 304 stainless steel would be a better choice, as it can survive exposure to mild corrosives and isn’t as costly as grade 316 stainless steel.
When a custom metal parts manufacturer uses the right material for the job, you can get the most bang for your buck.
Do You Offer Special Coatings/Finishes?
Aside from material choice, the choice of what coating or finish to use on a custom part, if any, can have a huge impact on the viability of that part for its use in the final product.
A coating of soft PVC can help a custom materials handling basket carry delicate objects without scratching them, or an electropolish finish can remove the microscopic flaws in a metal form that foreign objects may have caught in, improving the utility of the parts in applications where non-stick surfaces are a must.
Once again, it is important that the coating or finish used both enhances the utility/useful life of the part and makes sense financially.
How do You Manufacture the Parts?
Manufacturing techniques have come a long way in the last few decades. Many tasks that were once done only by hand have become automated. New technologies have been introduced to make certain manufacturing tasks faster and more consistent. For example, Marlin Steel uses the IDEAL Welding Machine to make sure every basket is precision made. Watch the video below!
Using a third-party manufacturer that relies on outmoded techniques to assemble your custom parts is, at best, a risky proposition. Manual assembly of metal parts is slow, as a manual laborer gets fatigued throughout the day, slowing down his or her productivity.
Manufacturers who use manufacturing automation don’t really have this problem. Robots, unlike people, don’t’ get tired, so they can keep working with the same machinelike precision at the same speed all day.
In fact, manufacturing automation plays a big role in answering the next two questions:
Can You Meet My Tolerances?
When you’re mass-producing a product, each part has to fall within a very specific set of measurements, or else the final product won’t fit together and you might as well have a collection of worthless scrap on your hands.
If the bend in a piece of steel wire is 90 degrees on one part, but 92 degrees on another, that’s a significant enough a different in the angle to potentially ruin the final product.
This is precisely why it is important to know how a manufacturer will make a part, as the precision of automated metal bending machines such as a CNC press brake can make ensuring consistent bend angles in metal easy, while relying on hand tools makes consistency nearly impossible to give in a time fashion.
How Fast Can You Fulfill My Order?
One of the basic reasons that any manufacturer goes to a third party for the production of a part is that they’re on a tight schedule and cannot make the part themselves without going behind schedule. This problem is especially critical when your company has a major product release coming up.
Keeping consumers waiting for their product can be incredibly harmful to sales in this modern era of near-instant gratification where consumers are used to a two-day home delivery timetable.
So, it is important to know how fast the manufacturer you’re enlisting to make a custom part or component can fulfill your order and have the parts delivered to you. You may want to do some independent research and check with the manufacturer’s previous clients to ask them how quickly their own orders arrived after the work order was finalized.
Finding the right manufacturer to help you get the production of your critical components is incredibly important to meeting your company’s own obligations. Find out how Marlin Steel helped other companies meet their production goals by reading the case study at the link below: