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3 Signs Your OEM Fabricator Can Scale For Your Demand

October 13, 2017

Demand is often fickle. Forecasted and actual demand can drastically swing one way or another, and your supply chain must plan and react accordingly. If your OEM fabricator consistently fails to meet delivery times, it can put you behind schedule and ultimately affect your customers.

Conversely, if your fabricating manufacturer appears to struggle with reduced demand, their long-term viability as a supplier can also impact your customer relationships.

What’s an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to do? Your metal manufacturing partner can demonstrate their ability to flexibly manage capacity, inventory and logistics in tune with your forecasted (and un-forecasted) requirements in a variety of ways.

Here are three signs an OEM fabricating partner can meet your demand levels on a consistent basis:

1. Capital Investments Reflect Your Partner’s Investment In You

The availability of appropriate equipment can be perceived as a “given” in your supply chain relationships, but there is more to it than simply reviewing a supplier’s equipment list.

First, ensure that your machine manufacturing partner prioritizes the purchase and usage of modern equipment. This philosophy should be at the core of your partner’s mission and evident throughout their plants.

Second, it’s critical for your partner to have the technical expertise to optimally program equipment. Simply owning equipment doesn’t necessarily mean run rates are being maximized, for example. Without this programmatic capability, your metal machining partner can be significantly limited in their ability to ramp up production without affecting your costs.

Third, equipment redundancy should be an integral part of your partner’s strategy. The accessibility of multiple versions of the same machinery protect against downtime effects caused by scheduled maintenance, malfunctions and natural disasters, as well as increase your partner’s capacity to take on projects similar in type.

2. Cross-Training For Career Advancement And Capacity

Skilled labor is at a premium these days. Forward-thinking fabricating manufacturers recognize the importance of developing and retaining talent not only for the benefit of their employees but also for their OEM customers, too.

Workers who are trained in working with a variety of equipment and processes increase their advancement opportunities within the organization, overall marketability and job satisfaction levels.

Cross-trained employees also improve a metal manufacturing partner’s agility. Harvard Business Review article cites a reduction in changeover times and the optimization of time and effort during line operation (as a result of cross-training) as all adding up to greater “flexibility to increase or decrease volume and SKUs at short notice without any major cost penalties” to the advantage of customers.

A cross-trained workforce can help scale back an OEM fabricator’s dependence on seasonal hiring, providing a more dependable labor base to fulfill high-quality standards for your projects all year round.

3. Moving Metal Parts In Single-Piece Flow

Antiquated welding suppliers that engage in traditional batch-and-queue processing tend to add throughput time, incur excess inventory and take up unnecessary space. The waste from this type of processing can contribute to your costs and lead time even before factoring in materials.

Modernized metal machining partners tend to use a single-piece (or one-piece) flow. This lean approach, in which parts constantly move through the manufacturing process until finished, can result in quicker and more efficient processing of finished goods, translating into faster and more cost-effective product for your production line.

Combine single-piece flow with a cross-trained labor pool and a strategic equipment investment focus in one metal manufacturer, and you have a partner well-suited to scale for your demand.

Ready to find out if your OEM fabricator can handle your demand? Discover five signs you’re partnering with the right fabricating manufacturer

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