6 Qualities to Look For in a Manufacturing Partner

Are you seeking a new partner for sheet metal fabrication or CNC machining services?

Maybe you’re fed up with poor quality parts, unmet lead times, or a shop that just won’t call you back. Maybe your company is growing, and you need to add capacity to your supply chain, or your regular go-to vendor is experiencing equipment or staffing issues.

Whatever the reason, we’ve put together a list of six green flags to look for (and red flags to avoid) when it’s time to find a new “team you can trust” for your precision parts. 

Signs of an Excellent Manufacturing Partner 

1. Proof of project fit

Can the manufacturer deliver the parts you need on time? Do they have the right capabilities to meet your part’s requirements? Just as importantly, do they set honest and realistic expectations? 

Some shops will take on your work and then not have the capacity to deliver on time. At Wal-Tek, we pride ourselves on knowing when to say “no,” which allows us to exceed your expectations every time we say “yes.” 

  • Qualifying question: Can you provide some examples of projects you’ve worked on that are similar to mine? 
  • Red-flag warning: Be cautious of shops that say yes to your job without a track record of completing projects like yours and a clear plan for meeting your needs.

2. Good chemistry

People are at the center of every business partnership. Spend time with a manufacturing company to see if you have chemistry with them. Tour their facility, virtually or in person. Our doors are always open for an in-person meet and greet at Wal-Tek. We love hosting customers on the shop floor. 

  • Qualifying question: When or how can I tour your facility?
  • Red-flag warning: If a company doesn’t invite you into their shop and isn’t willing to make time to meet with you, they might not be committed to building a relationship.  

3. Commitment to quality

The best precision machine shops adhere to industry standards for quality—and prove it. Whether they list their certifications on their website or tell you about their inspection process, a top-notch company will be eager to talk about their commitment to quality. 

For example, we list our AS9100-D and ISO9001 certifications on our website and show customers our inspection process when they tour our facility.

  • Qualifying question: What are your certifications? Can you walk me through your quality inspection process?
  • Red-flag warning: Skip working with companies that don’t list their certifications on their website or share how they hold their work up to the highest industry standards. 

4. Proactive, transparent communication

You want a precision machine shop that will proactively communicate updates, issues, or information about your project, so confirm that your manufacturer’s communication plan satisfies your expectations. Ask them how they keep communication lines open, who your point of contact is, and how often they’ll be in touch with you. 

Our team makes sure you know who to call whenever you have a question, and we pride ourselves on providing timely responses. 

  • Qualifying question: How frequently will I receive updates about my order? What’s your communication process? 
  • Red-flag warning: Avoid working with shops that can’t articulate their communication process and won’t set expectations about future interactions.

5. Digital proficiency 

Embracing technology means embracing innovation. Today, competitive manufacturing companies have leveled up to using digital software and automation to optimize efficiency and accuracy throughout the entirety of the manufacturing process. Look for a shop that has an online presence (e.g., a website, social media) and is continuously adding high-tech elements to strengthen internal operations. 

For example, we’ve upgraded our quoting system to be a fully digital experience, which expedites orders and helps us guarantee on-time delivery for our customers.  

  • Qualifying question: What’s the best way to submit my RFQ? 
  • Red-flag warning: Be wary of shops that don’t have an online presence or use outdated software and can only offer a verbal quote. 

6. Record of reliability 

There are many ways a shop can demonstrate their record of reliability. Not all companies capture customer testimonials or link to online reviews, but an excellent manufacturing partner will at least measure their success. 

A company with a proven track record is one you can trust. If you can’t find testimonials or reviews, ask about the company’s key performance indicators (KPIs), such as on-time delivery data. Can they prove that they deliver orders on time 95-99% of the time?

  • Qualifying question: Where can I read your testimonials? How do you measure your success? What percentage of your deliveries are on time?
  • Red-flag warning: Multiple negative reviews or an unwillingness to disclose success metrics should be enough to steer you away.  

Selecting a manufacturing partner can be difficult, especially if you’re working with a tight timeline and need your job done quickly. Knowing what to look for in a manufacturing partner can help make the selection process smoother. 

At Wal-Tek, we love meeting new people and helping potential customers with their latest sheet metal fabrication and precision machining projects. Submit a quote today to start building our new relationship!

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