Machine shop image with man working industrial manufacturing job

Posted & filed under Choosing a Parts Supplier, CNC Horizontal Milling, CNC Lathe Machining, CNC Swiss Screw Machining, CNC Vertical Milling, Improving Operations.

Man in machine shop working quality control job on CMM (Coordinate measuring machine)As an experienced manufacturer, you work with parts manufacturers and vendors to bring the latest and greatest products to the market. Production manufacturers such as machine shops should take into mind many planning activities before any milling, turning, drilling, routing or other machining happens. Knowing the following considerations to avoid pitfalls will make your next product launch successful.

Building Synergy with Machine Shops and other Parts Manufacturers

1. Define a thorough data pack review

Plan all aspects of the project you’re considering. A comprehensive data pack review contains all the info and documentation needed for the manufacturing process, product specifications, QA procedures and regulatory compliance. Going over these details with a fine-tooth comb exposes any discrepancies, errors, or missing info that could negatively impact a product’s quality, safety, or compliance. Consider the following:

  1. Product Specifications – know the technical specs including dimensions and tolerances. Include drawings and lists of materials needed.
  2. Manufacturing process documentation – Understand the step-by-step procedures and documentation during production, assembly, and testing.
  3. QA procedures – What quality control measures are in place during manufacturing, inspection, testing and validation?
  4. Compliance and certification – collect safety certifications, environmental compliance, and industry-specific certifications. Check for up-to-date ISO certifications, RoHS, CE, IEEE or other regulatory compliance.
  5. Supplier & material information – gather supplier details, qualifications, and sources of raw materials
  6. Risk assessment – evaluate potential risks and how to mitigate those risks
  7. Traceability – define clear records of all components throughout the entire supply chain.

2. Clarify all expectations with vendors

Tell your machine shop and other vendors what you require from them up front. The more details about part specs, materials, quantities, quality, lead time, costs & pricing, updates, gate reviews, prototypes and samples, shipping, IP, iterations, and backup plans the better position you’ll be to receive parts as expected. Clear communications help prevent misunderstandings and direction for the machine shop to produce accurate parts. Open channels of communication are key to making sure you open a dialogue around needs and value. Any changes that happen can be communicated immediately to prevent disruption to timelines and deliverables. The kickoff meeting should include the key personnel working on the project and how to contact each member responsible for the project. Sometimes a single point of contact (SPOC) is assigned to manage all communication from you to the individuals working on your contract. Different machine shops have different processes. Discuss how the machine shop operates during the initial meeting to build a dialogue around needs and value.

3. Schedule a machine shop visit and audit

This may seem obvious, but many times a visit to a machine shop or manufacturing plant is skipped due to time and travel constraints. Any new machine shop should be visited to understand the capabilities, meet the skilled machinists working the mills, lathes, drill presses, Swiss screw machines, metrology QA, and other related processes vital to machining your parts. Getting a sense of who will work on your project is important to understand what expectations you need to set for the team producing the contract. If you can’t physically join a plant tour, ask if you can get a virtual walkthrough online or video conference tour. What was once a challenge for some manufacturers to perform this step is now easy with current technology.

4. Produce measurement correlation studies

Important for verifying accuracy and reliability of part production. Performing measurement correlation studies between drawing and the produced part dimensions helps maintain high quality and repeatability. These reports also develop control limits for the operations. Know when a part is out of spec is important if tight tolerances are required. Additionally, errors can be identified sooner with details from such studies. The typical process includes:

  1. Selecting reference parts
  2. Measurement comparisons
  3. Data analysis
  4. Adjustments and calibrations
  5. Validation
  6. Ongoing monitoring

Professional machine shops take pride in smooth operations to produce parts to exact customer standards. Nolte Precise Manufacturing takes into consideration all of the above points to make the manufacturing process as smooth as possible for clients. To learn more about the process, contact us or complete an online RFQ. We’ll answer any questions you may have about our procedures.