To remain competitive and satisfy their customers’ increasingly frequent demands for ever-faster delivery, manufacturing companies face a seemingly impossible contradiction. On the one hand, in order to scale production and exploit best-of-breed competencies they are looking to outsource more and more of their production to job shops. On the other hand, they want as much as possible to eliminate the paperwork, lack of accountability, and shipping delays that can often accompany extended and complex supply chains. For many of these manufacturers, the solution may be the turnkey job shop — one that offers a complete solution rather than simply pieces of it.
When manufacturers work with a turnkey provider of laser cutting and welding services they can gain a clear competitive advantage over manufacturers that don’t. There are several reasons why. Here are five of the most important:
Faster delivery. Probably the main reason companies turn to a one-stop provider is simple speed. The logic is straightforward that fewer stages in the supply chain translate to fewer times parts must be packed up, shipped, received, unpacked, and inventoried. Parts may also spend less time in transit between the various stages. Then there are the administrative delays of processing purchase orders, bills of materials, and other documents that must all be completed and tracked at each stage.
Fewer purchasing headaches. In addition to the sheer time involved, many purchasing agents would just rather not have to deal with multiple suppliers and the administrative overhead that entails, including initiating and tracking separate multiple purchase orders.
Greater accountability. As more and more suppliers and shipping companies are added to the supply chain, the easier it becomes to pass off blame to someone else when something goes wrong. If you’re only dealing with a single supplier, finger pointing goes away and problems are resolved sooner and usually at less cost to the customer.
Higher quality. When you are working with multiple suppliers there is greater variability in the process, which means more mistakes. Different companies have different quality assurance programs in place and there is lack of end-to-end visibility over everything. In addition, just having more hands touch the parts makes mistakes more likely.
Lower total cost. When you add up the previous four factors — faster delivery, fewer purchasing headaches, greater accountability and higher quality — the result should be lower total cost. You’re spending less for shipping; there’s less administrative overhead; there are fewer mistakes; and when mistakes do occur, they are resolved more quickly with clearer accountability.
The most obvious criteria on which to select a turnkey laser services provider is how complete is the list of services actually provided. But at the very top of that list is the proven ability to handle turnkey projects end-to-end, and for customers like you. That is a special skill all its own, and one you can’t simply take for granted even if the supplier shows you a long list of individual production capabilities.
Handling end-to-end turnkey projects does itself involve a number of special skills including the job shop’s ability to qualify, recruit and work with its own network of subcontractors. Another capability would be an overall quality assurance program that provides end-to-end visibility and control. Still a third would be lot control history and traceability — which are of particular importance in industries like medical devices and aerospace.
Of course, that’s not to say that the list of “on the factory floor” laser services should not also be comprehensive. Here is our list, one you can use to compare with other providers:
If the idea of working with a turnkey shop is new to you and you’re looking for a good way to start, probably the best approach is to do a test project with a provider — probably something on a smaller scale and something that is not on a critical timeline. That way, when the day comes and you do need the fast turnaround and other advantages a turnkey vendor offers, you will be ready. You may also find that you prefer a turnkey solution to subcontracting, no matter what the project timeline.