This is the point of the project when CAD files, design concepts, and 3D models all come to life. The build is when the preparation you and the fixture shop have put in starts to pay off. What should you expect from the tool shop while your inspection fixtures are being built? Is there anything you, as the customer, can do to help the process along? Let's take a closer look at these two questions.
Tracking your project
The construction of your fixture should be the most hands-off portion of the project for you as the customer; the project manager assigned to your project will oversee this. Part of their process is providing you with updates on the build's progress. Progress updates can be accomplished in a couple of different ways. The tool shop may provide you with a percentage-based update, 30%, 40%, until you reach completion. The other method is a milestone-based report: materials have arrived, CNC machining is complete, fixture fully assembled... all along the way, until the fixture is ready for shipping.
Both the percentage-based and milestone-based methods can be an effective way to track the progress of your build. The method used often depends on how the fixture shop manages its manufacturing floor. The important thing is that the fixture shop keeps you fully informed of how your project is progressing.
Keeping things Moving
While the vast majority of the build responsibilities fall on the fixture shop, there are a few opportunities for you as the customer to help streamline the process. During the fixture build, there are some items that the tool shop may ask for; these include things like:
A priority list of the fixtures, in order of need.
Parts for a GR&R, if one is required.
A sample part (The more complicated a project, the more critical this is).
Do you require an on-site representative during certification or 3rd party inspection?
Verifying the shipping address of the fixture.
Getting clear direction on these items will help limit potential delays. When you know what day the parts will show up for a GR&R, tell the tool shop so they can schedule it. If there is no sample part available, let the fixture shop know; they will perform their final quality inspections without it.
Getting a well-constructed user-friendly inspection fixture built and shipped is the goal of the tool shop and you, the customer. When everyone focuses on their part of the process, this can happen smoothly and on time. You should not need to waste your time worrying about the machining, assembling, or processing of your fixture; that is part of what you are paying for. The most important thing for everyone is that critical information is shared promptly. No one wants a lack of communication to cause delays in a project that you have spent weeks, months, or even longer keeping on schedule.
One Last Thing
Every project will have unexpected challenges. The more experience a fixture shop has, the more obstacles they have successfully navigated. One item that can put stress on a project's schedule is an "Engineering Change." Next week, we'll spend some time discussing ways to handle an E.C.
By Chris McColley