6 Things to Look For When Choosing the Right Manufacturer
Companies looking for manufacturers need to figure out how to select the right partnerships, to drive better supply chains, and improve their own business operations.
This is especially true in high-pressure fields where quality and precision really matter. So what do companies look for when they're trying to find a partner in a manufacturer that will turn out high quality custom parts?
One Stop Shopping
One of the first things many companies look for is a broad range of available metalworking and production services. When a manufacturing company only advertises one kind of core service like die casting or metal stamping, however specialized, it can still be a red flag that capabilities are limited. Having a partner that can offer tooling, molding, assembly, packaging and other services can help a company reduce the number of manufacturers in its supply chain and increase efficiencies. Additionally manufacturers that can offer prototyping services as well can be both convenient and a cost saver.
Many sophisticated companies in industries like medical and aerospace need to partner with manufacturers that are able to go beyond some of the more traditional production methodologies and offer brand-new state-of-the-art processes. Many new technologies can help companies reduce time to market, improve product characteristics, such as strength or weight, and reduce cost.
For complex and precision parts, companies should select contract manufacturers that can meet rigid quality requirements and at the same time offer unique services such as design assistance, rapid prototyping, multi material capabilities, and automation. Companies should look for manufacturers that invest in technology and have the capacity on board for whatever custom parts runs they want to accomplish.
A key part of this is prototyping. Before full production, a company may need working prototypes. Manufacturing companies that offer multiple prototyping methods offer more value to clients. The best manufacturers will understand the technologies that are being used, from conventional methods such as CNC machining and wire EDM to 3D printing/ additive manufacturing and determine the best methodology for producing a manufacturable product. Another excellent example is the range of molding service that produce high-quality multi-contour products. Insert and injection molding and specific processes like reel to reel molding promote great results for parts that are structurally durable, easy to assemble and deliver, and have a high standard of build integrity. So it pays to ask about processes like these up front before it’s time to make a production run, and before a client anticipates delivery.
Adherence to Standards
The proper evaluation of a manufacturer should also include an evaluation of its quality performance and quality management system.
The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) provides the guidelines, structure for specific standards for many kinds of manufacturing. A manufacturer should be ISO certified to the relevant standard for the industry it's operating in. Medical device contract manufacturers should have ISO 13485, while automotive stamping and molding companies should be TS 16949 certified. ISO 9001 should be the minimum requirement for any manufacturing company. Lastly companies should look for manufacturers that invest in becoming ISO:14001 certified. This certification demonstrates a manufacturer's commitment to environmental protection.
In term of quality performance, manufacturers should employ industry standard techniques such as APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning) as well as being well versed in the PPAP process. Metrics such as PPM (Parts Per Million) should be evaluated as well. This and other aspects of Design for Six Sigma are important in the automotive industry, but they are also integral elsewhere as well.
All of this is key for evaluating what a manufacturer can bring to the table when it’s time to quickly and effectively ramp up a business project..
Clients in Related Industries
Simply put, a company that has specific needs for precision parts will want to see that the partnering company has experience with their particular field.
If a medical company is looking for a parts supplier for scalpels and other surgical tools, or parts for radiology equipment, they want to know that the company has at least a history of successful experience in medical production. The same is true for various transportation fields, especially aerospace, where Federal Aviation Administration standards make production quite different from the production of general consumer goods. Making sure that a manufacturer understands the industry of its client is a key part of due diligence that prevents some serious misunderstandings later on in the process. It’s a way to protect a project’s integrity and ensure better outcomes.
Modern Equipment and Processes
As mentioned above, companies want to make sure that a chosen manufacturer has some of the best new equipment on hand to accomplish more in their facilities. This requires an investment -- but it's money well spent, because these manufacturing companies are on the vanguard of production processes that are vital for business in the 21st century. For instance, companies that move to CNC machines or other modern tooling methods are able to greatly increase their capability and serve clients better than those that rely on traditional manual machine tooling systems.
Another sign of value for a manufacturer is its provision of secondary services.
If two or more companies offer a similar standard in key metalworking processes, the ones that provide refining and second-pass production options are going to win out much of the time. Companies that offer secondary processes like tumbling, grinding, and other forms of defect elimination have a competitive advantage. Other services include heat annealing and various kinds of coating for metal or multi-formed products.
In addition to offering these services, manufacturers offering custom parts work need to have an in-depth understanding of the processes. It’s not enough to just offer barrel tumbling – they need to know how barrel tumbling works, what kinds of times and durations apply to specific processes, and what types of tumbling are sufficient for the purposes of descaling, deburring, or some other particular result.
A Track Record of Excellence
At a very basic level, companies want to see that a manufacturer has the required track record to prove its value. Oftentimes, there's no chance for a second impression during an important parts run. The client company is taking a risk -- so doing due diligence into a business partner's history is simply common sense.
The best production companies make their corporate histories clearly available and transparent to prospective clients, because they understand that this kind of research is a requisite for trust. They present a full resume of the capabilities, along with concrete examples of parts they have made and challenges they have met in doing so. By putting their cards on the table, they show what they can offer and what they bring to industrial clients.
Ask Weiss-Aug about what we can do for clients in industries like transportation, medicine, defense and aerospace. We excel in offering a wide range of industrial solutions, helping our client companies to innovate and compete in a rapidly changing production world