The metal fabrication industry is on the verge of widespread consolidation. Small and medium-sized job shops will no longer rule the roost as they once did. OEMs are starting to realize the cost and time savings in taking advantage of multi-service contract manufacturers (CMs). OEMs understand they can relieve themselves at least of some part of inventory management while saving on the overhead they would require to build out parts through cutting, welding and machining. Now expectations are beginning to include a full array of services including coating and assembly.
Coating Requires Space, but Presents a Unique Value-Add
One of the biggest hurdles for smaller manufacturers is the sheer space required to offer traditional metal fabrication services (cutting, welding, forming) in addition to coating. Offering both liquid and powder coating options for clients requires considerable investment in equipment, specially trained personnel and enough capacity from other services to justify the investment. Typically, OEMs or the contract manufacturer will send manufactured parts to third-party finishing contractor for coating. A CM offering coating within the greater bundle of custom metal fabrication services can simplify supply chain management for the OEM.
In-House Assembly and Coating Gives CMs Ownership and OEMs Relief
Once fabricated parts leave the contract manufacturer, there is an immediate loss of ownership. The part is then at the mercy of the OEM or any third-party contractors that see through the final touches on parts. While OEMs take on the lion’s share of final product assembly, having preassembled materials prepared beforehand can cut out work that would otherwise be done by the OEM or a separate contractor. A quality metal fabrication partner will do everything in its power to deliver a product on time and, if they can, will want to have control over the entire lifespan of a part’s manufacturing. This gives OEMs less points of contact, an easier route to make part modifications and a part delivered on time.
Finding the Right Multi-Service Fabrication Partner is Necessary
Multi-service contract manufacturers are becoming increasingly used by OEMs across the country. Those CMs also take on more responsibility and an OEMs health will depend on the service quality and timeliness of the CM(s) they choose. When so much of a part’s lifecycle is manufactured under one roof, OEMs must find a partner they can trust. That said, they can and should expect more from their CM of choice.