How To Choose A New Contract Manufacturer Without Missing A Step
February 26, 2016
OEMs commonly partner with a new metal manufacturer only to be disappointed by the quality of their metal parts, late deliveries and an inability to support increasing demand.
Once you’re locked into a relationship with a welding contractor, it becomes more difficult to phase your supplier out. Before you partner with a contract manufacturer, ask the following questions:
1. Will I ever receive defective parts, and if so, how will you prevent my production lines from being affected?
2. How will you help me identify opportunities for cost savings?
3. Do you keep an emergency inventory in stock?
4. Do you offer metal fabrication, industrial welding, custom machining, metal finishing and assembly in-house, or do you contract these services?
5. How will you ensure I receive my parts and assemblies on time?
If you receive satisfactory answers from a potential contract manufacturer, the next step is to gain proof that it’s being honest. You should ask follow-up questions. For example, to discern an OEM supplier’s product quality, you may first ask about product defects, and then ask, “What quality management system do you use?”
Typically, follow-up questions lead you to the next step in choosing a supplier: Conducting an on-site audit where your supplier demonstrates its ability to live up to its promises. You’ll see manufacturing processes in action and learn what measures your welding contractor has in place to promote efficiency and quality.
Identify Your Goals Before You Choose A Partner
Identifying your goals as a company makes choosing a contract manufacturer much easier. For example, you should know whether your organization favors cost over quality, or whether you favor quality at a premium. Your goals must be congruent with the supplier you select.
You may be able to find an OEM supplier that stands out as the low-cost option. However, such a supplier often behaves differently from a contractor focused on quality, streamlined services and accommodating your growth. Consider these goals and whether they align with your company’s agenda:
- Lowering overall spending
- Stabilizing supply
- Minimizing warranty claims
- Eliminating disruptions to internal assembly lines
- Ensuring rapid growth can be supported by your supply base
Each of these goals will drive you to make a different decision in terms of which supplier is best suited to your organization.
Do Your Research Prior To Selecting A Supplier
Most suppliers list their available services online. At a minimum, you should read through a potential contractor’s website to make your question-and-answer phase more efficient. You’ll be able to target specific areas of concern or interest when you’re well informed.
You may also benefit from reading industry publications that help you identify the services you need. If you have the time available, read some of the following publications:
- Modern Machine Shop
- The Fabricator
- Production Machining
- Fabricating & Metalworking
- Products Finishing
The final step is making your decision. Once you’re involved in a sales conversation, you should have qualified out most unsuitable candidates. You must also have your goals in mind and know what services you require.
At this stage, the right supplier should demonstrate that it’s listening to your needs and offering solutions. It will be familiar with your processes and answer questions knowledgeably. With your final approval, you’re ready to enter into a profitable and mutually beneficial relationship.
Ready to choose Miller as your next strategic partner? Contact us today!