How do you determine the best metal fabrication company for your specialized project? Custom metal fabrication and finishing requires a deeper attention to detail and stricter processes than can be offered by a standard welding company or metal fab shop. This is especially true for products used in critical use applications, such as those found in defense projects where inferior quality could result in disastrous consequences.
When vetting a metal fabrication company, price is an obvious consideration, but there is much more to choosing the best partner, including the following.
Consider how complex your metal fabrication project is and its intended use. Not all fabricators can achieve extremely tight tolerances. Likewise, not all fabricators are skilled in different types of welding or working with various raw materials. Proficiency in these areas only comes with proper training and an experienced workforce.
Explore whether welders are certified in accordance with American Welding Standards and Military Standards. Also, ask about their protocols and value-added services. These might include design for manufacturability (DfM) reviews of your specifications and whether they have an agile and streamlined workforce. Also consider whether they are a one-stop-shop that will not only fabricate your custom metal project but can also provide machining, assembly, and painting services without having to subcontract them to a third-party vendor.
Skills are important, but so is experience. This is especially true for industries with compliance requirements. Does the metal fabrication company you’re considering have experience navigating the complexities of working with compliance audits, regulations, government inspectors, or certain industries, mainly yours?
Even if the metal fabrication company you’re considering hasn’t worked in your industry, it doesn’t mean they’re not the right fit. Look at the complexity of other projects they’ve worked on, customer lists, certifications, and the types of industries served. All of these factors provide you with input on whether they have the experience to meet your needs.
There’s more to analyzing a company’s value than price, but let’s face it; price is important. Understanding the factors that go into metal fabrication costs, such as materials, labor, project complexity, documentation, and more, can help you achieve the best value at a fair price.
Begin by submitting a thorough RFQ (request for quote) to ensure that you have every detail covered and that there aren’t any surprises down the road. When you receive your quote, compare it with others, but remember to look for more than the bottom line. Examine how thorough the proposal is and whether there are missing details that could come back to haunt you.
Remember that the lowest quote may not necessarily be in your best interest. For example, a company with higher quality standards or a faster turnaround time could save money — and a lot of headaches — down the road.
The environment in which your metal fabrication project is produced says a lot about a company and its attention to detail. When possible, visit their facility in person, or take a virtual tour when that’s not feasible. Is it clean and well organized? Do they have a streamlined inventory system?
Observing the care they take in their facility can indicate how much care they’ll take in building your project. Likewise, a climate-controlled fabrication facility is a reflection of how they care for their employees, and happy employees are more likely to produce quality results.
The technology and equipment a metal fabrication facility uses in combination with skilled labor also indicates their quality and capabilities. Have they made an investment in state-of-the-art equipment and automation like laser cutting equipment, CNC machines, tooling equipment, painting and finishing operations, and more, or is their facility and its equipment outdated? Assessing these areas can indicate how well they will manage your project and overall quality control.
Every company claims to have exceptional customer service, making it difficult to determine exactly how good it really is. Asking for referrals is a good first step; actually following through by calling them is even better. Talking with existing customers — and ex-customers, when possible — can help you gauge their satisfaction with the metal fabrication company’s service. Specifically, ask about any issues they’ve had and how they were resolved, and their responsiveness, transparency, and communication.
When speaking with your prospective metal fabrication company contact, note how responsive and service-oriented they are on the front end. This can be an indication of things to come. Specifically, ask about issues they’ve had and how they’ve dealt with them.
Every company, no matter how experienced and qualified, will have had to deal with an unsatisfied customer at some point. Look for transparency in their answers and what they learned from the experience, indicating whether they have a continuous improvement mindset.
To discover how a metal fabrication company stacks up in all these areas requires engaging their team beyond simply requesting a quote. We invite you to connect with us here at Fox Valley Metal-Tech to explore whether we’re a fit for your next metal fabrication project. Contact us to start the conversation.