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. Poor quality or late orders can put you in poor light with your customers. The metal fabricator you choose should be a close partner that works as if they are part of your company.
Choosing a metal fabricator, therefore, is a big decision. Carefully considering these three critical factors will help you to select a fabricator that will not disappoint.
Fabricator’s Equipment and Capabilities
The first thing, and the most obvious starting point, to consider is equipment and capabilities. The fabricator’s equipment and capabilities must be able to handle the complexity or size of your project. This should go without saying.
Beyond looking at an equipment list, you should be looking to see what value-added services they have that may save you time and money. Do they offer prototyping? Do they use design-for-manufacturing (DFM) principles? Do they offer design review and provide advice on materials, design simplification, etc.? Are there other time-saving processes or equipment they use that would apply to your project?
Also, significant savings, not to mention convenience, can be found when the sheet metal fabricator offers a one-stop shop for product design, prototyping, fabrication, and inventory management under one roof. Using a one-stop shop fast-tracks your entire project and makes your life easier because you no longer need to find and qualify a design house, a prototyping house, a fabricator, and a fulfillment house. This optimized approach will get your components or finished product to you faster.
The word quality gets thrown around pretty casually. It can be found on just about every manufacturing website with an inferred meaning of excellent quality. However, you have likely noticed that not all manufacturers produce the same level of quality.
ISO defines quality as the “Degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements.” Starting backward in this statement, the “requirements” typically come from a customer, industry standards, or regulatory bodies and are needs, expectations, or obligations. “Characteristics” are distinguishing features of the product. “Degree” refers to what level those requirements are met. Essentially, if the product’s characteristics meet all requirements, it is considered high or excellent quality, but if those characteristics do not meet all requirements, it is regarded as poor quality.
The goal is to find a fabricator that produces high-quality components or products a high percentage of the time.
One hundred percent would be ideal. Realistically, this will be impossible to find, but your metal fabricator should have a continuous improvement process with a goal moving them toward 100 percent.
At a minimum, verify that fabricator has quality certifications and works to any applicable industry standards. Find out what metrics it uses to track quality performance, so you can determine if they are adequate for your project.
Outstanding Customer Service
When you meet with a metal fabricator about your project, their main concern should be to understand your needs and budget. The level of commitment they are willing to make will have a direct impact on the success of your project.
Customer service is more than taking your order. Outstanding customer service is tied to the character of the company and the people they hire. To find a metal fabricator that offers great customer service, search for one who is honest in their dealings, who is invested in your project and looks to continually improve it, who desires the success of your company, and who owns up to mistakes and works hard to rectify them.
Estes Design and Manufacturing: Let us be the solution for your metal fabrication challenge
With decades of experience and cutting-edge fabricating equipment, Estes offers a suite of services, including product development, rapid prototyping, and sheet metal fabrication, to ensure your project is a success. Our lean manufacturing and automated cell technology mean you see reduced lead-times, improved quality, competitive pricing and consistent on-time delivery.
Our clients are not just clients—they are partners. When you partner with us, our success depends on your success.
Contact us today to learn what we can do for you.