If you’re in the market for a top-quality metal fabrication process, it’s prudent to spend time researching the marketplace. Locating a professional fabricating company with an excellent manufacturing process reputation isn’t necessarily difficult. It just takes time and a thorough understanding of what you need. Finding the right fabricator also requires knowing their full capabilities.
Identifying a suitable metal fabricator is a process in itself. You need to do your homework and locate a business specializing in manufacturing products in your sector. Fabricators offering generalized services, stock inventory and boilerplate operations might not be your best bet, especially if you want something unique like wire fabrication. If you require something to fill a non-standard application, inevitably a company familiar with custom metal fabricating is the best one to serve you.
Narrowing down the best fabricator specializing in custom metal work like manufacturing wire components involves assessing your particular needs, as well as your wants. It might sound involved to sort through a lengthy list of specialized fabricators, but you can easily narrow down your search and quickly identify the best company to partner with. Your search should start with these nine questions to ask yourself before fabrication.
1. What Type of Fabrication Services Do You Need?
This question is the most elementary one you can ask yourself. It’s critical to drill down and itemize what you truly need in your about-to-be-fabricated products. Be sure to clarify the difference between “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.”
Most metal fabrication shops will gladly supply you with what you want, rather than spending the time to work with you and get an accurate sense of your specific needs. Highly reputable custom fabricators will work with you to make your ideas a reality. But, they can’t read your mind.
Before contacting a potential fabricator, or even before asking yourself the other eight pivotal questions on this list, you should make a list of needs, wants and don’t-matters. This exercise will help clarify what your project requires. It’ll also help you articulate your scope of works to custom metal fabrication candidates.
Your needs can be any number of points. Perhaps you need your product to meet federal or state regulations within your industry. You might need your product to withstand great weight or stress. Or, your needs could be something that fulfills a new business procedure you’re unfolding. Regardless of your product, your first question should be: What do I need it to do?
2. How Much Time Do You Have?
Knowing your timeline is a top priority. It’s crucial for both you and your prospective fabricator to have a clear vision of the time you need your project started and delivered. It’s one of the keys to avoiding expensive surprises, delays or the dreaded rush to meet an unrealistic deadline.
Establishing a proper fabrication timeline is an essential part of knowing what expectations you should set for your project. Inquiring about your schedule will likely be one of the first questions a suitable metal fabricator will ask. They must know what time parameters you expect from the beginning to plan a concept until it’s packaged and on its way to your door.
Identifying realistic deadlines is a must so your fabricator can meet your expectations. However, these expectations must match reality, so there may need to be a compromise. Even if you’ve done your homework and are ready to contract with a manufacturer, you have to realize they need a suitable timeframe to build your project without rushing to ensure the best-quality output.
Manufacturers need sufficient lead to slot your project into their schedule. They might also need room to source particular materials or components. You’ll give everyone involved in your fabrication team great relief if you’ve correctly answered how much time you need.
3. Do You Have a Concept?
When you get to this stage of sourcing metal fabricators, your concept shouldn’t be a vague idea. You need to have a pinpoint focus on what your requirements are before shortlisting your fabricators and contacting them for estimates or quotes.
If you don’t yet have a concept, the best way to develop one is to start with a general idea. Your basic thoughts should include what you want your project to accomplish and perform in the end. That takes into account who will use it, as well as where and how they will use it. It might sound simple, but it’s worth mentioning as a smart starting point when developing a core concept to bring to a potential fabricator.
You should always involve others within your business when developing a concept or when product planning. Many managers now evoke a concept process called design thinking, which is a methodology that finds solutions to problems by using intuition, logic and reasoning based on systematic research.
You don’t need to get overly complicated with design thinking to clarify your concept. You can make bullet point lists or hand-sketch diagrams. Photos of similar products and applications also help. The main thing is that you can effectively communicate your concept with your custom metal fabricating company.
4. Have You Done Your Research?
There’s no doubt spending research time will pay dividends in your project’s successful outcome. Your time researching gives you clarity and a picture of purpose. As you research your needs, as well as your wants and don’t-matters, you’ll develop a better understanding of what you require from your fabricator as well as what’s available.
Your research can take place in many areas. It’s likely to be as individual as your business. The old saying “necessity is the mother of invention” holds true. It’s fair to say no invention ever materialized without a good deal of research.
Your research goes further than the product concept and assessing your needs. You need to research who you’ll employ to fabricate your custom metal works, and make sure they are a good fit. To qualify that, these are some points to research about your fabrication company:
Do they have experience in your type of concept?
Can they realistically work within your timeline?
Do they have the equipment to build your project in-house?
Do they have to subcontract or outsource portions of the product?
Can they offer value-added services like design and final finishing?
Are they familiar with your industry and its intricacies?
Do they have the reputation of delivering on time with top service?
5. What Level of Complexity Are You Looking For?
Here is another question to ask yourself in realistic terms. How complex is your project? If you need something fairly straightforward that’s a small run with minimal components, you can probably get by with a standard metal fabricating company. However, if you have something more intricate, requiring design, production and testing specialties, you’ll need help from a full-service fabricator with large run capacity.
Maintaining perspective about your project’s complexities and capabilities is essential. For example, NASA’s Johnson Space Center details a comprehensive guide to manufacturing services, but that’s likely too robust for your needs. You’re probably best finding a mid-sized custom wire fabricator in your area. If your project has a certain complexity level, a custom shop can offer value-added services including sheet metal fabrication, welding, tube fabrication, powder coating and wire forming. A custom fabricator should also be able to work with complex jobs through their design and engineering staff, as well as handle assembly, packaging and logistics.
Complex custom metal fabrication requires a larger capacity and specialized equipment. Complexity also needs a knowledgeable staff experienced in exacting work. There are bound to be more steps and procedures in complex fabrications than in simple productions, which will result in more time needed to get your work completed.
6. What Materials Will You Need?
You may not be able to adequately answer this question on your own. You might have to turn to the experts for this. However, you can get a jump on understanding your materials by incorporating this in your research.
To start with, make some inquiries into what materials similar products already use. That should give you an idea of what’s tried and true. It’s usually better to go with what’s proven than reinvent the wheel. Many common materials form the core of metal fabrication, including aluminum, carbon steel and stainless steel.
You might be venturing into uncharted territory, though. In that case, do some internet research into current and cutting-edge materials that offer new solutions for evolving problems. For instance, scientists have recently invented a new steel product that’s as strong as titanium.
There’s a tremendous amount of information available on metals and materials involved in the manufacturing process. But likely, your strongest source of information on the best materials to use will be an experienced custom metal fabrication professional. No one is better equipped to know materials than a custom wire fabricator, so be sure to ask for an expert opinion.
7. What Quality Standard Are You Expecting?
If you’re looking for a certain standard of quality, you’ll need to define what that means. To some, quality means good fit and finishing. Others view it as the overall level of customer service, experience and reputation all playing an equally important role. You’re probably in the best position to know what quality level you want and need in your relationship with a custom fabrication business.
However, when quality means meeting certain standards and recognition, make sure you look for a fabricator who has ISO9001:2015 certification. This designation comes from the International Standards Organization and is the stamp of approval on a company that values quality as a top priority. ISO9001:2015 certification verifies a company has the processes and protocols in place to:
Demonstrate the ability to consistently produce services and products meeting customer and statutory expectations
Aim to enhance customer satisfaction through systems that are replicable and scalable with the assurance of uniformity
Be continuously applicable and never varying as the organization expands, regardless of size or products and services it offers
8. How Many Items Do You Want to Have Manufactured?
Before building a quote or estimate, you and your fabricator need to know the volume run you require. Right after they ask what you need and when you need it, they’re going to want to know how many you want.
Your project’s scale is vitally important for a fabricator to speak meaningfully about their capabilities to handle your work, when they can complete it and how they’re going to price it. Certainly, there is value in volume. Small production runs usually are more expensive per unit than large ones, due to economies of scale.
Your custom metal fabricator will seriously take production runs into account when working your cost estimate. They’ll also consider how many items you want manufactured when quoting you start and completion dates. Your fabricator needs to assess volume when sourcing supplies and negotiating prices within their supply chain.
It’s important to give your fabricator an idea if your order is a one-off or if you plan on doing long-term business with continuous orders. This information particularly applies if you’re an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or a point-of-purchase (POP) business. As a rule of thumb, OEM customers usually place consecutive manufacturing orders, while POP purchases can be a one-time contact.
9. Does Your Fabricator Match Your Expectations?
Although asking if your fabricator matches your expectations is the last question on this list, it’s certainly not one you can afford to ignore. However, you need to go through the first eight points before you can confidently assess if the custom metal fabricator you’re considering is your best choice. Selecting the right fabricator is a significant decision, and they have to meet your expectations.
It’s safe to assume if you feel your new fabrication partner aligns with your needs and wants, they’re likely the right fit. You’ll develop a gut feeling once you’ve done your homework. If you have a positive feeling, reach out and establish the relationship.
Becoming a valued partner with your fabricator is essential to a long-term relationship. A reputable fabrication company will undoubtedly view you that way. But before making a final commitment, here are some other consideration points that assure they’ll match your expectations:
They’ve been in business a long time.
They’re conveniently located and easily accessible.
They have an in-house capacity to handle your project.
They have the experience to build a quality product.
They’re certified to meet your every expectation.
Choose Madsen Wire Products for Custom Metal Fabrication
By choosing Madsen Wire Products as your trusted custom metal fabrication partner, you can rest assured we will fully meet your expectations. At Madsen Wire Products, we have the in-house ability to understand your concept, anticipate your needs and build your products with top-quality materials. Our design and engineering staff can work with you to economically develop your project and offer value-added services like wire forming, sheet metal fabrication and finishing touches such as powder coating and electroplating.
Madsen Wire Products opened in 1938. Today, we have a full-service premier wire facility centrally located in Orland, Ind., to conveniently serve the United States, Canada and Mexico. We have the experience to meet your custom wire manufacturing expectations, and we have the professional staff to carry it out. We’re also certified to strict ISO9001:2015 standards.
For more information on other questions you might have before fabrication, call Madsen Wire Products today at 260-829-6561. You can also find us anytime through our online contact form.