quality, reliable metal fabrication

How reliable is your metal fabrication supplier? Check these four key metrics

Sourcing a reliable metal fabrication supplier for your next product launch is a high stakes proposition. At first glance or quick web search, many suppliers appear to have what it takes to get the job done. Unfortunately, you won’t discover their quality issues until it’s crunch time, and they produce something that’s out of spec — or miss your deadline altogether.

But, how can you know if a supplier is going to be a reliable partner? From our experience, there are few key metrics that are telling indicators of a supplier’s reliability. A supplier that cares about earning your business should make this information readily available on request. If not, then that’s your first sign that they may have something to hide.

To guide your supplier evaluation process, consider the following four key metrics of reliability.

1. Annual ISO audit

Maintaining an ISO 9001:2015 certification requires an annual audit that validates adherence to its high-quality standards. Many suppliers use this audit to uncover areas of improvement and hone their internal quality processes. But it can also reveal existing non-conformance issues that might impact their overall reliability. Only by checking their ISO audit will you know their current state of operations — and discover any potential red flags.

2. Production quality rating

A supplier’s external quality yield is a strong predictor of reliability. First, it means they’ve established the internal processes needed to deliver optimal results for their customers. Second, by having a quality tracking program in place, they’ve demonstrated their commitment to continual process improvement. That’s why reliable metal fabrication suppliers are more than willing to publicly share and promote their quality metrics with customers and prospects.

3. Employee turnover rates

Retaining a consistent, high-functioning crew of metal fabrication professionals is an essential contributing factor to a supplier’s overall reliability. But this is easier said than done in the manufacturing industry. According to recent estimates from the Bureau of Labor statistics, manufacturers are grappling with a 39 percent turnover rate — creating a turbulent environment that has direct impacts on quality and reliability. It’s worth asking a potential supplier if they are above or below industry averages, and how they’re mitigating the associated risks to their internal production standards.

4. On-time delivery data

Production quality is only one part of the on-time delivery equation. To make sure materials arrive at your manufacturing plant as planned, suppliers must follow robust shipping and logistics methodologies. By adopting ISO 9001:2015 shipping practices, suppliers can integrate repeatably reliable delivery into their production process — backed by quality-driven tracking technologies and data analytics. Make sure your prospective supplier has a proven track record of meeting their delivery promises.

Expect nothing but full supplier transparency

If a prospective supplier is unwilling to share any of these key metrics, chances are they’re covering for an internal quality issue. At STAUB Manufacturing, we’re strong believers in full transparency. In fact, we welcome customers and prospects to visit our production facility, get to know our staff, evaluate our capabilities, and check out our quality metrics. You should expect nothing less from your suppliers.

In the spirit of full transparency, we recently published data on the above metrics. We’re proud to say all our reliability markers are trending in the right direction:

  • ISO audit: No non-conformance issues
  • External quality yield: 99.87%
  • Employee turnover rate: 3%

Before you select your next metal fabrication supplier, be sure you’ve done your homework on the metrics that matter most. To inquire more about our quality processes, capabilities and performance metrics, feel free to reach out to our sales team. We’d love to show you our commitment to your success.