When it comes to metal fabrication, wouldn’t it be nice if you could eliminate time spent negotiating and communicating with multiple vendors?
Time is perhaps the most precious resource of all! As a business owner, you need time to manage every facet of your operations. Time spent on one area means less time available for the others.
Getting all your metal fabrication needs taken care of by just one vendor is a huge time saver, and can also save money as well.
Is it possible to have all your metal fabrication taken care of under one roof? Absolutely. Here are a few tips on how to make that possible.
Preparation Makes it All Possible
Before you even start your project, you need to make a “time investment” in research, planning, and getting ready to go. Even though it seems counter-intuitive, this is a situation where you will spend the time upfront, which will save you more time in the long run.
Make sure you know the exact specs of what you need to have your metal parts fabricated. If you aren’t sure, you may need to consult with engineers. The key is to have complete details on everything you need before you choose a fabricator.
Having a realistic budget for your fabrication is essential. This will come into play later when you are evaluating bids. You don’t want to set your budget unrealistically low, as you may be tempted to choose a fabricator that cuts corners or can’t complete the work.
Knowing how to communicate with fabricators is important. You have to have a sense of what you need and how to get that across in a concise way so you can continue on to the next step.
Narrow It Down: Good Reputation and Full Service are a Must!
Depending on your location, there will probably be several metal fabricators to choose from. Spend some time getting referrals and, if possible, talking to their customers. You’ll probably want to narrow down the list to 3-5 shops with great reputations.
You could try to get bids from just about every metal fabricator in your region, but this is going to take way too much time. Instead, focus on the top few shops. It’s better to make a careful choice between 3 and 5 vendors than somehow trying to evaluate dozens.
In addition to having a great reputation, you need to make sure that the fabricators you solicit bids from can handle all elements of your fabrication needs. A simple phone call or email is all that it takes: This is where the preparation comes into play! If you provide a simplified list of what you need in your call or email, you’ll be able to cross fabricators off your list who can’t fully complete the project under one roof.
In the end, you’ll be able to make a far more educated choice. So, invest a little more time in this preparatory stage of the process.
Start With an Interview and Tour
Once you reach out to the metal fabricators on your list, you’ll want to set up a consultation and tour of the facility. If the fabricator won’t allow you to tour the facility, you might want to think twice about using them.
This is where having a detailed list of your fabricating needs comes in handy. You’ll need to ask questions and ensure that the potential fabricator has the machinery and knowledge to accomplish the specific tasks you need. If they don’t, you’d be stuck sending your job around to multiple shops.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that the floor and equipment seem to be in good working order, and that employees seem to be competent and knowledgeable. A list of references should be provided so you can double-check the quality of their work.
Interact with as many people as you can on your tour. Do they seem like they know what they are doing? Are they familiar with the type of project you’re looking to complete? If they seem to be full of ideas to get your project done in a more efficient way, that’s a plus!
If you are satisfied with the shop, it’s time to ask them to bid on your project. This is where preparation comes into play. If you don’t have the complete specs for your metal fabrication, then they won’t be able to bid accurately.
Speaking of saving time, if your fabricator can’t provide an accurate bid, this means you’ll be spending time down the line negotiating changes. While some change orders are just an inevitable, unforeseeable part of the process, avoiding them is your best play. Giving them the most complete information to prepare their bid is essential.
Which Bid to Choose?
It may be tempting to simply choose the lowest bid and be done. The problem is that the lowest bid isn’t always your best option.
If one bid is significantly lower than the others, you’ll want to ask yourself, “Why?” Are they cutting corners? Have they avoided making an investment in the latest, state-of-the-art equipment? Or, are they using some new, untested fabrication methods?
You’ll want to really drill down on these bids and ask plenty of questions. You want to make sure your fabrication project is completed on time, but without errors. Every time the work isn’t completed correctly, you’ll need to send it back for changes, costing you in the long run.
Use your budget as a guide. Ideally, all of the bids will fall into the amount you budgeted, so you can make your decision based on factors of quality, not solely cost!
IMS: a Full-Service Metal Fabricator
At Integrated Manufacturing Solutions, we can handle all your fabricating needs in-house. We have a team of knowledgeable professionals who understand how to get projects done efficiently and precisely!
Our team members know how to work with every type of sheet metal. We can laser cut, weld, and form to your exact specifications. We save you both time and money by acting as an extension of your company.
It all starts with getting a quote. Our engineers and sales professionals would love to discuss your project and how to get it completed on time and on budget, all without the hassle of bringing it to multiple vendors.