Your reputation with your customers depends in part on the quality of the products you provide to them. So it goes without saying that the work your metal fabricator delivers—whether it is a component or a completed product—becomes a reflection of you. Choosing a sheet metal fabrication partner can be a challenging task. There are lots of factors to consider and a lot of time, energy, and financial resources riding on a production order. So, how do you go about choosing the best partner to get the job done right?
We recommend asking these seven questions of your potential sheet metal fabrication partners to determine who is the best fit to fulfill your project needs.
It is incredibly helpful to work with a sheet metal fabrication partner who knows your industry and the needs it has. Whether you’re working in construction, medical devices, food service, cabinetry, HVAC, or any other industry, a partner who has worked in those areas before will understand the quality standards and best practices of that industry. They will be more aware of potential issues and may even be able to offer design and production suggestions to improve your project based on their experience.
Is the company equipment up to date, or are they still using machines from 20 years ago? The ability to obtain and maintain quality equipment says a lot about the sheet metal fabricator. State-of-the-art equipment will deliver the most value and help ensure your project is a success. Plus, it demonstrates the company’s internal desire to stay ahead of the curve and provide quality work to their customers, which will be displayed in other areas of your partnership.
Has the fabricator worked with others like you in the past? Ask to see a portfolio of previous projects and the responses that customers have had. Were the customers looking for something similar to what you are? Were they pleased with the results and the final product? If you know of others in your industry who have worked with the fabricator, use your network. Ask around to get a feel for people’s interactions with the fabricator.
While online reviews and social media comments may be somewhat helpful, also be aware that people can write those without ever having interacted with the company. Do be aware of the fabricator’s online reputation, but also take comments with a grain of salt.
Off-the-shelf products don’t always work for your specific needs, and this is probably why you’re looking for a fabrication partner in the first place. You want a solution catered to you. Finding a fabricator that offers customized solutions and continuous improvements throughout the production process offers two perks: your original design is most likely improved by the end of production, and the fabricator can work efficiently and save rework costs.
Design for Manufacturability and Assembly (DFMA) is the process of refining a design to optimize production. It supports faster lead-times by reducing reworks and waste, which can also save money and reduce downstream costs. Working with a fabricator who has DFMA in mind will not only save you time, money, and frustration, but it will also smooth the production process for them. It’s a win-win plan, and you’ll likely end up with a better product than what you first imagined.
This can be important as you’re considering who will actually be bringing your design to life. Does the fabricator have a lot of turnover? Or do they have longtime, experienced workers? This says a lot about the company’s recruiting process, how they treat employees, and if their workforce will deliver quality work. You can ask for a brief description of the production staff who will be working on your project.
If everything from design to production and assembly to finishing is done in-house, there will likely be more consistent quality across the board and you will not have to do the front-end research of evaluating an additional partner. A shop that outsources part of your production will not be able to guarantee quality as strongly as a fabricator who works on your project from start to finish.
Does this fabricator maintain industry standards for quality, efficiency, production, and safety? While many fabricators measure their performance against internal standards, having a third-party stamp of approval will mean a lot more in the long run. Do they have certifications from the American Welding Society (AWS), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), or another third-party auditing body? Researching these certifications will tell you more about the companies that hold them and how they serve their customers.
Does Estes answer these questions?
Estes Design and Manufacturing, Inc. strives to check all of the boxes you need for a quality sheet metal manufacturer. We’ve worked in multiple industries, including medical devices, office furniture, HVAC, large appliances, and more. We’ve invested in the highest-quality technology available for our customers’ metal fabrication needs, and our customers can testify to that. We’re also ISO-certified in both quality and medical device production, ensuring our organization, and therefore our end products, are top notch. Two of our specialties are Estes Accelerator – Product Development & Prototyping and our Estes Max Velocity automated cell for fast and efficient production. From early prototyping and cost-reduction consultations, Estes partners with your company to build a seamless system of quality manufacturing. We’re the sheet metal experts you can trust to get the job done right and are ready to help you with any stage of the game in your production process! Contact us today to let us know how we can help you.