Updated: Jan 24
You've landed a new project and are going to need inspection fixtures. What are some ways to streamline the process? This post will discuss five things that can save you time and money when ordering inspection fixtures.
1st "Know who is quoting your work."
Don't waste effort on someone who can't handle your project. Before you spend valuable time preparing a Request for Quote (RFQ) for a company, verify a few things first. Ask for the company's certifications and accreditations. Make sure they are qualified to take on your project. Have a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) filled out before you start sharing information. Ask for examples of similar projects that they have done recently. If possible, have yourself or someone whose opinion you trust tour their plant.
2nd "Get them on your Approved Supplier List."
Why is this so important? Because the time you lose at the start of the project is challenging to make up at the end. If you have ever been through the frustration of picking a supplier, agreeing on a price, and then finding out it will be an extra week, or longer, to issue a purchase order, then you know why this is so critical.
Make yourself aware of your company's policies. It is not as big of a challenge if all it takes to be an approved supplier is a W9 and a supplier information sheet. But, if your company has a more in-depth process, possibly one that stops just short of an inspection with a latex glove, then the sooner you can start the process, the better.
3rd "Tell them what you know."
Providing an RFQ package with the available information will save time and confusion. What items should you include?
CAD (or at least length, width, and height of part) and part prints
Standards used for the build (Either your customers or your companies)
If you have an estimated need date for the fixture
Any additional requirements that you are aware of
An expectation of when you need the quotes returned
Providing this information upfront will allow you to receive accurate quotes for your project. Of course, you can't give information you don't have, but the clearer you lay out the scope of work, the quicker you will have reliable quotes in hand that you can confidently issue a Purchase Order too.
4th "Don't Guess at it."
The quote you receive from your supplier should have some basic information. What items should you insist be on the quotes you receive?
MUST HAVE INFORMATION
The total cost of the fixture or fixtures
The length of time that it will take to complete the project
Part name and number that the quote is for
Who is responsible for shipping the finished product and where it will be shipped
The materials used in the construction
INFORMATION THAT IS NICE TO HAVE
The length of time that the quote will stay valid
The expected payment terms
The date the RFQ was received
The address where the fixture will actually be built
What should you do if a quote does not include the information you need? Ask for it! Don't decide without having all the info. If a potential new employee handed you their resume and didn't list any skills, work history, or references, would you hire them? Not likely. If you asked them for more information and they tell you, "That is just the way I fill resumes out." Would you hire them? Even less likely. The same applies when getting a quote for a new project.
It is not unreasonable to expect your supplier to provide you with the information you request. They are applying for the opportunity to team up with you on your project. While it may not be reasonable to ask for something to be designed or built during the quoting stage, it is 100% reasonable to expect all essential information to be provided with the quote.
5th "Build GOOD working relationships."
Each time you request a quote from the same supplier, they become more in-tune with your process. They learn what requirements you need, how you want that information presented, and what time frame you expect to receive it.
When you find a supplier that provides a quality product, you want to keep using them. As you build that working relationship with them, they become more invested in your success. They know that looking good to your customers means more work for you and a good chance of more work for them.
So when you ask for some quick turnaround quotes or some budgetary prices on something new you are quoting, they will be eager to help. When quotes come in over your budget, you will feel comfortable calling and asking them if they could move on price. The supplier may even become inclined to give you a price break because of the amount of work you source with them.
The Final Thought
No matter what industry you produce parts for, automotive, agricultural, recreational, or aerospace, you will have challenges. Getting your project started on time and with the correct information will help mitigate some of those challenges.
After you have received quotes, decided, and sourced the work, what's next? What is your inspection fixture supplier responsible for tracking? How should the different milestones of the project be handled? What should you expect from them throughout the life of your project? We will cover these topics next week.
By Chris McColley