Machining has become the industry norm as consumer demands continue to accelerate and product creation has been pushed to be completed on a more timely schedule. As a potential supplier to businesses or consumers it is important to consider the ramifications of mass production. Machining equipment is expensive and management and operation of said equipment takes years if not decades of experience. When looking for potential machine shops to partner with for your next venture, here are some things you should consider in your search:
Because of the attractiveness of the industry machine shop opening have exploded over the past decade to meet demand and take advantage of potential profits. One of the most important aspects when aligning with a potential provider is thoroughly vetting the team and their experience in the industry. Submitting a request for the equipment list and capabilities is a good first step which should most likely be followed by an on-site visit and in-person discussion with their head of production.
Next you would want to make sure that the minimum order quantity (MOQ) aligns with the production capacity of the provider that you are potentially aligning yourself. Depending on the machine count and labor force of the company they may only be able to meet a partial amount of what you are seeking to provide back to your customers. It is important to be fully transparent on your wants and desires so that issues do not arise post-agreement. Being transparent with the provider will allow them to adjust production schedules accordingly with their existing customers as needed.
You should always ask for a referral from previous customers. Production processes for machining can be lengthy depending on the product and you may not know the quality of the product you are agreeing to received until months after your agreement. If you are able to talk to previous clients of the provider you should be able to lean on that information to make a more informed decision.
Since communication will be ongoing throughout production it is important to assess how the company has handled communication efforts in the early stages. How long did it take to respond to your request for a project? Were they diligent in following up with your questions? Do they have proper communication channels established? In an industry like machining it can be common for providers to be lacking in this area. Aligning yourself with a provider with experience, production capabilities, reputation AND communication skills is a fantastic partner for the long run.
Cost will most likely end up being the most important factor in your decision. Make sure to calculate out your unit economics prior to approaching a provider so that you have a good idea of the range of costs you are able to commit to while still maintaining an attractive gross margin. Although cost is important it should not be the only factor. A cheap product may not be worth anything on the open marketplace and could damage your company’s reputation as a result. Cost should not come before quality.
Take your time when selecting a provider, it is an important decision!