If you are looking for a metal fabrication company or mechanical specialist to meet a specific need, you may have a lot of questions about whether the company in question can perform a very specific function. However, the questions you have may not be the right questions to ask if you want to know whether the company or companies that you are considering are quality service providers. Before you get into the nitty gritty, step back and ask these four questions before committing to a metal fabrication company.
1. What lead time do you need for a project? In an ideal world, a metal fabrication company will be able to deliver the items to you in a very short time frame, so that there are no delays that impact your organization. In the real world, however, it's all too common that metal fabricators get a lot of orders. This drags out the lead time so that you may end up needing to wait for a month to get parts fabricated for you. Asking ahead of time can help you to tell whether the service provider is able to be a reliable partner to you. Companies that can explain why their lead time is a given length and back this up with data demonstrate clear thinking and a commitment to the process that is worth investing in.
2. What materials does the company work with? You may assume that all fabricators offer a wide array of metals in many different sizes. This isn't always the case. Always ask what types and sizes of material the metal fabrication company can work with to ensure that they can provide the specific services you need. Too many companies overlook this obvious question, so it's critical that you check in regarding this.
3. What is the price point for the product you need, and what is included in the pricing? Price is obviously important, and it isn't always straightforward in fabrication. With any vendor that you are considering working with, find out the price point of the items you are considering ordering. Then examine what different elements factor into this price point. In some cases, a company may charge a higher price but use more precise machinery. If this could translate down the line to fewer wasted items on your end, it could be worth paying the higher price. In other cases, the cheapest possible item may be preferable.
4. Do you offer design services? You may not need the metal fabrication company to offer design capabilities for your current project, but it is always a good idea to ask whether they offer design services. In the future, you may have a need for design. Some companies may be able to come up with a part based on a sketch or drawing that you have provided, some can translate your basic idea to a shop drawing, and some can perform the entire design service on your behalf. It's always worthwhile to know a fabricator that offers design services, even if they are not something that you anticipate needing very often.
Ask these questions to any potential service provider to gain a good idea of the level of service they provide and ensure that you are selecting a mechanical services provider that will exceed your specific needs for this project and become a real partner for your ongoing needs. It's worthwhile to have a couple of different companies that you have vetted and trust, so that you can work with these suppliers to meet any needs that arise. The worst time to find a supplier is when you have a critical need.