As previously discussed on this blog, there are several benefits to choosing a custom metal fabricator with a consolidated, multi-service offering. A primary issue for many companies in their search for manufacturing partners is the perceived need to hire an overwhelming number of metal fabrication vendors for projects. Outsourcing in excess not only costs more in the long run, but the reliability of the quality and delivery becomes questionable.
One Bad Metal Fabrication Shop Can Stymie a Project
With multiple vendors, there is always the inherent risk of one or more fabrication shops that don’t quite synergize with the other members of the manufacturing process. This could stem from a lack of proper infrastructure, weak capital investments in equipment and personnel, poor project management, poor external communication or a combination of several factors. Other issues include a failure to properly react to design revisions and new manufacturing instructions. Relying on too many vendors reduces mid-production flexibility and is otherwise slow to adapt to change.
Project Management and Logistics are a Nightmare
Moving necessary raw materials, completed parts and assemblies becomes increasingly more challenging as the number of outsourced fabricators increases. Not only does the costs of logistics rise as the volume of shipping increases, but the risk of shipping error or damage in transport rises as well. Adding more logistical steps also extends the manufacturing life cycle, elongating product completion times dramatically.
Strong Contracts Are A Must-Have
While the process for creating and signing contracts upfront can seem tedious, contracts are necessary to hold all parties legally accountable and shine a light on issues that might otherwise be ignored. The rights to intellectual property and engineering documentation, for instance, won’t be handled in a weaker contract. Delivery commitments and cost structure are other important components of a contract. There are too many potential liabilities and moving parts within the manufacturing process to not take contracts seriously. Juggling multiple contracts of varying terms or strengths can eventually lead to issues.
Manufacturing Planning and Quality Control Are Too Removed
The farther removed engineering (manufacturing planning) and risk management are from the manufacturing process, the higher the risk is for the production of faulty parts. New Product Introduction (NPI) can involve a slew of complex part manufacturing and subassemblies, requiring strict adherence to manufacturing outlines and meticulous quality control measures. The more outsourced partners are involved, the more difficult NPI projects are to execute sufficiently. Again, a failure to accurately communicate manufacturing changes from the top can lead to significant rises in costs and even longer wait times for completed parts.
All-Encompassing Custom Metal Fabrication
Depending on the size of your company, there are several factors (namely price) that will influence your decision to sign with a larger custom metal fabrication partner. For high-budget, high-complexity projects, however, you can’t risk allowing too many hands in the manufacturing process. If possible, you require a contract manufacturing partner that allows for a seamless movement of parts from service to service with in-house manufacturing design for assembly and quality control. Assuming you find a worthy contract manufacturer, the upfront risk and cost can be significantly reduced.