With today’s supply chain complexities and economic uncertainties, sourcing a reliable metal fabrication supplier is more important ever. Choosing a partner that’s committed to your success, profitability and reputation adds predictability to your production schedule and takes one less worry out of the process. But how can you be sure that you’ve selected that partner? In this installment of our Smart Fabrication Sourcing series, we’ll explain why conducting an onsite visit is essential to ensuring success.

When it’s time to source a new supplier for an upcoming metal fabrication project, many manufacturers run through the familiar steps of a typical evaluation process. They often start with a simple web search, comparing capabilities and building a list of supplier prospects. Next steps often include sending out requests for quotes, scheduling introductory conference calls, negotiating on prices, and narrowing down the list down to the top candidates.

In most cases, manufacturers looking for new suppliers are up against tight production deadlines. In their haste, they often shortcut the evaluation process, settling for the first supplier that offers a low price and promises they have the right capabilities. But without taking the time to fully vet the potential supplier by meeting them in person, they are taking a great risk.

They’ll often realize their error too late — when that new supplier has either missed the production deadline or delivered products that don’t conform to the requirements. This mistake is not only costly, but it can put your production behind schedule for days, weeks, or even months.

From our experience, if you want to ensure that a supplier’s capabilities, culture, and commitment to delivering quality parts align with your company’s expectations; before awarding the bid, take the time to schedule an onsite visit to a supplier’s production facility.

If you’re sourcing precision-fabricated metal parts from a new supplier, conducting an onsite visit gives you the assurance that they’re capable of delivering on-time, on-budget and at quality.

Without conducting an onsite visit, how can you really know if a supplier’s facilities are equipped with the necessary technical capabilities, stringent process and quality controls, and specialized experience to produce your parts consistently? Can you really trust that their production process operation operates as efficiently as the pictures on their website might indicate?

Suppliers who care about winning your business will welcome this opportunity to meet you in person and prove that they have the specific capabilities you need. In fact, if they’re not willing to offer an onsite visit, it may be a red flag that they may have something to hide.

By gaining an inside look at a supplier’s operation, you’re able to meet their sales and production teams in person, take a personalized tour of their facilities and walk away with much clearer picture of their capabilities — and the assurance knowing that that they can meet your specific production timelines and/or fabrication requirements.

When visiting a supplier’s facility, be sure to look for these key process and quality indicators:

  • Review their systems and learn how they monitor quality metrics.
  • Understand their processes and watch how information flows through the operation.
  • See samples of their work and verify proof of their past successes.

An onsite visit gives you the insight that you simply can’t get from browsing a website, reading a brochure, or reviewing an equipment list. At the end of the visit, you should have no doubt about a supplier’s capabilities — and that their definition of quality and commitment meets your standards.

In the next post of our Smart Fabrication Sourcing series, we’ll review four key questions to ask during an onsite supplier evaluation.