4 Cost-Cutting Tactics for Metal Machined Parts

Balancing costs and quality is an ongoing production struggle. It can be difficult to know where to cut costs that won’t sacrifice the quality of your project. When working with metal machined parts, there are a few ways to meet your budget while still producing a high-quality component. As you examine your project’s bottom line, consider these cost-cutting tactics for metal machined parts

4 Cost-Cutting Tactics for Metal Machined Parts

1. Choose the Right Materials

This is the first and one of the best cost-cutting tactics for metal machined parts. While quality is essential—and the materials you use are a key factor in quality construction—it’s important to balance quality and expense. In many cases, you can still get the functionality you need from your metal machined parts while still cutting costs.

To find the right material for the job, it’s important to address the part’s function and utility. This way, your part will still function the way that it’s supposed to, without adding extra expense from materials that are unnecessarily tough or complex. For example, if your component is going to be used indoors and won’t be subject to intense temperature extremes or moisture, a carbon alloy will probably meet your needs, and stainless steel may add unnecessary expense.

Consider the following to guide your decisions about materials:

  • Force: In the component’s common and regular use, what type of force will it be subjected to? This includes regular wear and tear or abrasion, weight and pressure, pushing or pulling, and more. If the component must withstand heavy force in its regular use, a tough steel will be important, but a component that won’t see intense use can be made with a lighter, more affordable alloy.
  • Temperature: Temperature considerations are especially important for metal machined parts. Temperature swings will cause some metals to expand, contract or warp significantly, while other metals will hold their shape more consistently. Consider any aspect that might create temperature swings, such as friction, outdoor use, cooling fluids or heating elements, and more.
  • Corrosion: All metals corrode in some form, though some are much more resistant to it than others. If the metal machined part will be subjected to moisture, including washing water, steam, high humidity and other aspects, the metal must be resistant to corrosion. If the component will be mostly enclosed and used indoors where corrosion will be much slower, corrosion resistance probably won’t add much value to the component.

2. Leverage Supplier Relationships

Once you’ve decided on the right material for the job, the next step is deciding where to source the material. If you’re working with a subcontractor for the components, they have existing metal supplier relationships that they can leverage. Or, if you’re subcontracting the labor, but you already have valuable supplier partnerships, you can supply the materials yourself. Choosing the right type of contract and partnership can help you take advantage of the skills and equipment you need.

3. Plan Your Purchases Carefully

Pre-planning is another important cost-cutting tactic for metal machined parts. With a reliable timetable and production schedule in mind, you can take advantage of blanket purchases. These pre-arranged orders with delivery across multiple dates can help your manufacturing partner plan production more easily, and they can help to cut costs.

With a good idea of your production needs, you can also place a bulk order, which can reduce per-unit costs for metal machined parts significantly. Set up costs often account for the bulk of an overall order’s expense, and bulk orders help to spread these expenses across more units. You benefit from economies of scale, and you can be more confident that you will have the components that you need when you need them.

4. Simplify Your Design

Even small details can quickly add expenses for metal machined parts. Simplifying your design is one of the most effective cost-cutting tactics for metal machined parts. Small divots, cuts or holes that are excessively delicate or excessively deep creates unnecessary complexity and expense. Once again, a clear understanding of the component’s common use can help to streamline the design and cut costs.

If you’re unsure how to streamline or simplify your component’s design, talk to an experienced metal fabricating partner. With a detailed understanding of the machines and processes needed to produce the part, an experienced fabrication partner can suggest ways to simplify the design without sacrificing product quality or utility.

Working with an experienced manufacturing partner can help you cut costs on metal machined parts in multiple ways. Experienced designers, engineers, fabricators and project managers can all help to keep your project on-time and on-budget, while still delivering on quality and consistency.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Contacting a Contract Machining Company

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Outsourced contract machining allows companies around the world to save time, money and resources every year. However, in order to speed up the manufacturing quoting process and get your parts made within the time frame and budget that you need, there are a few questions you should have answered internally first.

Questions to Answer About Your Contract Machining Needs:

  • What is my budget to produce this part?
  • What is my timeline to have the part in my hands?
  • How many parts do I need?
  • How often will I need my parts run?
  • What material(s) will best suit my part? (Not sure? We can help you figure it out!)
  • What is the possibility that my part design will change over time?

Having these questions answered ahead of time can help you speed up the quoting process as well as the manufacturing process, saving both you and your manufacturing company in the long run.

What are the Different Types of Manufacturing Entities: Toll, Contract, Full-Fledged

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When you outsource your contract manufacturing, you typically are faced with determining which one of three types of manufacturing entities will fit your manufacturing needs. Depending on your circumstances and project requirements, you’ll want to evaluate if you’ll need a toll manufacturer, contract manufacturer or full-fledged manufacturer.

Toll Manufacturer

Materials, goods, inventory and selling risks are assumed by the organization that hires a toll manufacturing company (you in this case). Under this type of situation, the toll manufacturer provides the plant, machinery and labor force to manufacture parts, and you must provide all materials and goods necessary for manufacturing. You also would hold ownership of all intangible assets such as patents and designs and assumes all selling risks.

You can count on paying a toll manufacturer on a routine basis.

Contract Manufacturer

This type of manufacturer is the body that owns the plant and machinery and provides the labor to operate the machinery – similar to a toll manufacturer. You would have access to the company’s resources (plant, machinery and machinists) to make your parts and components, and you ultimately assume the risk of selling the goods. Similarly, a contract manufacturer would also be paid on a routine basis.

What makes contract manufacturers different from toll manufacturers is that they source and supply the materials necessary to manufacture the parts.

Full-Fledged Manufacturer

A full-fledge manufacturer is the most involved of the three types. This company is responsible for providing the space, machinery and team to manufacture the parts, as well as, all materials and goods necessary for production. Ultimately, this type of manufacturer assumes all risks associated with selling the products and has rights to intangible assets such as designs and patents.

5 Top Signs of a Successful & Quality Contract Manufacturing Company

It’s important to know what to look for when researching contract manufacturing companies to handle your outsourced manufacturing needs in order to ensure that you’ll get the best possible quality and care. Here are 5 fundamental signs that a contract manufacturing company is worth your business’ time, money and resources.

Customer-Centric Approach

Every good contract manufacturing company is purposeful at placing the focus and importance on its customers.  This should be reflective in how they answer their phones or how they speak with people in person as well as on their websites and through testimonials and reviews from past customers. Every good company is focused on how they can better serve you as a customer.

First Class Machinists & Staff

Apart from the actual machinery, a high quality contract manufacturing company should be equipped with top notch contract machinists and staff. From the front desk and customer service team to the machinists running the parts, every part of the team should be trained, equipped and visibly on top of their game from the time you begin conversations with them through the process of running the parts.

Expert Educators

What truly sets one contract manufacturing company apart from another is the emphasis on education. A company that places a lot of importance, time and resources on educating their customers and prospective customers is more readily viewed as a reliable, thought-leader within the industry, For example, this type of company would be one that provides educational downloads, informative blog articles, and maybe even how-to videos, providing information beyond the norm to the public.

Approved & Certified

This element may be obvious to most, but it is the single most important aspect to ensuring your parts and project are handled properly from quote to delivery – Certifications. The ISO certification in particular ensures that your team as well as your project will be handled with honesty, integrity and precision. Any contract manufacturing company you work with should have the proper certifications and checks in place, which ensures your protection as a customer.

Positive Track Record

Past and current customer reviews and testimonials can tell you a lot about a company. If a company you’re researching for your contract manufacturing job has pages of negative reviews on websites like Yelp or Better Business Bureau, than you might want to think twice before digging deeper into “why” and signing a contract.

5 Drawbacks to Avoid When Outsourcing Your Contract Machining

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Outsourcing your parts manufacturing to a company within the United States can provide you with more opportunity to get the quality parts you need without having to invest in more products machinery or employees and without breaking the budget. Like any time you utilize an outside source for business, there are things you should be aware of to avoid falling victim to scammers or poor quality service and parts. Here are five areas to be aware of when outsourcing your contract manufacturing.

Skipping Your Research

In order to ensure that you choose a company that is qualified for your company and project, you should go through the process of properly vetting them or qualifying the manufacturing company first.

Here’s an easy checklist to use when qualifying a contract manufacturing company. Download it free here.

Look into their certifications – are they ISO Certified? Glance at their online reviews either on Better Business Bureau or on their own website to get a feel for type of experiences people have had with them. Use this information to research and compare different companies.

Sacrificing Quality for Budget

Every business wants to save a penny where they can, but when it comes at the expense of quality, you’ll end up getting the short end of the stick. There are ways that you can save, such as switching out the material you machine with to more cost-effective materials, and this is a great way to increase your ROI. However, what you want to be very cautious of is any company that promises top-notch quality on a shoestring budget. The overall quality may end up being poor, they might not provide you with the communication and customer service you deserve, or, even worse, you may end up getting a surprise bill at the end of the run.

Unclear Timelines & Communication

Whether you only need a one-time part or you need to schedule recurring manufacturing over the course of a year, it’s important to clearly communicate every timeline and deadline you’ll be needing your parts by. A common and costly mistake in manufacturing is not being completely up front and vocal about when companies need their products by. Headaches and failed deadlines can cost you even more time, money and resources.

Not Utilizing Machinists for Recommendations

Contract machinists are more than just a vehicle to carry out your project, but they are experts of the manufacturing process and can be utilized as a great source of information on how to best manufacture your parts and components. Whether it be what materials to use, how to machine to reduce run time, or figuring out what the best design would be for the part, contract machinists should be used as an expert resource for you. Not utilizing them to their fullest ability can be the difference between money in your pocket or more money thrown into the manufacturing process.

Not Regulating Compliance Standards

Many industries like the medical field and food industry have strict guidelines and standards that need to be met. If you are getting a part manufactured within a field with high standards such as these, it’s crucial that you make sure that those are being met within the design and manufacturing process.

As the owner of the design, you need to be responsible for the regulating and managing your product to ensure it aligns with your industry standards, reimburse your contract manufacturing company to do it or hire an additional outside source to do so.

These five areas have caused a lot of companies more time, resources and stress, but can be easily avoided if you are prepared and know what to look for. If you have any other problems you’re facing with your manufacturing needs, feel free to get in touch with us. We’d be happy to help you figure out the best and most cost-effective way to manufacturing your parts.