Google “sheet metal fabricators near me,” and a list of options pops up. Before sending out your RFQs (Request For Quotation), remember not all fab shops are created equal, and many serve specific markets or niche products.
Here are some things you should look for while perusing potential suppliers’ websites or ask them about before launching the RFQ process.
Location & Supply Chain
Supply chain disruptions can hurt your business. To avoid this risk, look at your potential fabricators’ locations. See if they have a robust footprint and strong proximity to key players in your industry, including your locations, suppliers, and customers. You will also want to ensure that their supply chain can meet your specific needs.
Check out their facilities, including video and virtual tours. It’s important to get a visual of the facility where your product will be fabricated. These visuals will give you a good idea of the quality of their workmanship.
Experience & Capacity
When it comes to experience, you want a fabricator who’s a seasoned pro. Look for a company with a proven track record of success and the ability to handle your project in-house. They should also have the capacity to take on your project without delays.
Partners with years of industry experience not only act as a valuable resource to your team, but they can also quickly navigate and overcome manufacturing challenges that come their way because they have been through it before.
In addition to years of experience, be sure the metal fabricator you select deeply understands your product category/industry. Ask them about their process and how they would approach your project. Do they have any experts on their team who can help with specific aspects of your project? And if so, what will working with them look like?
Quality & Certifications
Sheet metal fabrication is all about precision. You need a fabricator who takes quality and accuracy seriously. Ask them about their quality control processes so you can ensure that their products are manufactured according to industry standards and your unique specs. Look for quality management certifications, including the latest ISO 9001 certification that backs their dedication to quality. Many fabricators list these on a dedicated page on their site.
Understand who will be there to support your team and product. Look for a fabricator with an in-house engineering team that works closely with its manufacturing team. They can review your drawings and recommend any changes so your product can smoothly enter production on their shop floor. This will also help when launching new products/ programs. This information may be more challenging to locate on a website and often require a quick conversation.
You can save yourself from a headache by confirming that your potential supplier is skilled in working with the type of metal (i.e., HRPO, CRS, or Aluminum) you need before submitting your RFQ. Not all suppliers can work with every metal (or specific gauges/ thicknesses), so make sure to ask them about their capabilities beforehand.
Look on your potential supplier’s website to ensure they have the capabilities to fabricate your product. Take note of what they have and any capabilities you do not see that they may need to outsource. Partnering with a supplier with capabilities under one roof provides you with better process control.
To Sum it Up
In the end, it is important to do your research on potential fabricators before sending out your RFQs and entering the quoting process. You can use this blog as a starting point to get you thinking about what questions to ask and how much information a potential fabrication partner should be able to provide you with quickly.
We’ve also created a Checklist Worksheet to help you walk through the qualification process. Grab your free copy here: https://www.maysteel.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Maysteel-Fabricator-Checklist-March-4.pdf
If you’re looking to outsource a complex metal fabrication project and need help finding someone who is just as passionate about quality as you are, let’s chat! We would love to see what products or programs our team could partner with your business.