Precision engineering, by definition, requires precise accuracy on a consistent basis. Although there's plenty of scope for error, inconsistent finish, reworking and extended deadlines are not acceptable.
If it seems that you're always complaining about your precision engineering company, it's probably because YOU are struggling with one of these problems...
A) Misguided loyalty - you stick with an inconsistent supplier despite the issues
B) Focusing on the wrong details - you're consistently choosing the wrong suppliers
Type As get lumbered with the same poor quality engineering suppliers for years because either:
- they know the supplier personally and it's difficult to switch
- it just seems like too much hassle to change
But if you find yourself in this situation and your supplier is failing you on deadlines or the finish quality of the parts, then, for business reasons, you need to make a change!
It can be frustrating. You may consider a dozen precision engineering companies but your research goes like this:
- Capacity works out – check
- Approvals in place – check
- Costs are higher than my current supplier - ah... Oh, dear.
And everything grinds to a halt. If there's nothing to make one candidate stand out, you've only got price to go on and there's no decision to make.
And it's likely this is where you give up.
You may even begin to think ‘Is my current supplier really that bad?’
If you don't change supplier, nothing will ever get better.
But worse still, this is when you can fall into another trap...
Don't Get Stuck In The Cycle!
If you didn't self-identify as type B, read on to avoid becoming one. If you did, this is the cycle you're getting stuck in...
With any project you start, there will be clearly defined goals as to the finish quality, timeline and, of course, the price.
That’s a given.
The problem is, type Bs choose on price and want everything – good, fast AND cheap.
"I need these complex components manufactured to the tightest tolerances, I want them tomorrow and for half your quoted price, please."
Unfortunately, good and fast isn't cheap - without compromises. And compromises mean the parts aren't up to spec or fail to be turned around quickly enough.
Type Bs get stuck because they are searching for a perfect combination that doesn't exist!
Even when they think they've found the perfect supplier at the best price, something is not quite right.
So when they realise their engineering supplier isn't performing, what happens? They look for the same, impossible thing again.
With the same results.
They get stuck in a perpetual cycle of supplier swapping!
I think it was Albert Einstein that said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results...
Yet you needn't be in this cycle - you just need to make sure price isn't the focus of your search. Pay a little extra to avoid the headaches...
Besides, opting for a slightly more expensive option could actually save you money in the long run. Read on to find out how!
Avoiding hidden costs
In precision engineering, hidden costs are not sneaky delivery charges or surprise booking fees, they're:
- The batch of parts with inconsistent finish that needs re-working.
- The ramifications of project delays caused by your inexperienced supplier missing deadlines as he tries to figure out the best way to engineer anything but the most straightforward of parts.
Using experts avoids delays and hidden costs. It saves you money in the long run!
Yet, even when type As decide that they aren't going to settle for Mediocre Engineering Ltd anymore and type Bs stop basing their choice on price alone, you'll run into another problem.
Choosing a legitimate precision engineering company
Let’s face it, everyone is after the same things:
- Delivery on time
QED suggests you've found a precision engineering company with passion, that:
- Produces your components to the quality required, first time
- Understands the capabilities of their 5 axis machines and pushes them to their limits
- Respects your lead time and sticks to deadlines
But how do you find what you need when every engineering website is full of the same generic waffle?
What you need to do
Treat your online investigations as if you were at a trade show.
Do the simple things first, look for proof that your new supplier can handle what you’ll throw at them. Check their capacity is up to your needs and don’t forget, it’s not just the quality of the machines they have, the software is incredibly important too.
Find something that separates them from the other contenders. Look for an unrelenting passion for engineering and a dedication to sourcing the best materials possible. This tends to come with experience...
A great way to really get under the bonnet of a precision engineering company is to have a look at their case studies and testimonials. That’ll give you a useful insight into what it's like being their customer.
And when you have finished looking through their website, if it's still not obvious, talk to them! Pick up the phone or use the contact form.
If you're happy, get a quote!
Your job doesn't end there though because, believe it or not, you can tell a lot about a company by their RFQ process.
Every supplier will have a slightly different process, so it's much easier to look for an engineering company that has taken the time to outline this for you.
It shows that they consider how their customers feel.
To give you an idea of a good RFQ process to look for, ours works like this:
- Get in contact with us via the contact form on our website or by calling us on 01268 271144.
- We’re delighted to sign an NDA and complete any audit requirements before a formal agreement is agreed.
- Send us your drawings via email or our online form (less than 100mb in size) so we can prepare a quote. We work from the usual fire types such as Parasolid, Step and IGES etc.
- We’ll get the quote back to you within two or three working days – if there’s anything you need to discuss, we’ll be on the phone to you right away to keep delays to a minimum!
- Let the project commence! Once the quote is agreed, we’ll start your project asap.
- Next, we’ll deliver your components on time.
It’s as simple as that.
So whether your problems stem from Type A or B behaviour, you now have the information you need to finally pick a GOOD engineering supplier.
- Be prepared to change
- Don't focus on price alone
- Do the basic checks - Look for QED in their case studies and testimonials
- If it's not obvious why you should pick them, call them!
- Finally, RFQ
Still not sure if it's time to change or worried you'll choose the wrong supplier?
For type Bs, we've create a guide with 9 tips to help you choose the perfect installer, you can read it here!
For type As, don't worry if you're not ready to end your relationship just yet, we've got a tool to help you with that.
Our free quiz will let you know in just 4 minutes if it's time for you to bite the bullet and wave goodbye to your supplier.