Take a Walkabout
Unsure whom to choose for a manufactured parts supplier? It might be time for a tour of their production floor.
Parts procurement was once much simpler. You’d fax a print to the shop down the street or maybe drop in for a cup of coffee, and a few days later you’d get a quote with price and delivery based on the desired quantities. You came to know the people there, and could count on them to deliver quality products as promised. Today, things are a bit more complicated.
Considering all the Amazon-like, instant-quote, quick-turn fabricators and machine shops out there, it’s harder than ever to develop these kinds of relationships with suppliers, let alone find a manufacturing partner for the long haul. And what if you’re unsure about the available processes? Maybe you don’t know what metal or plastic to use, or need some advice on ways to improve your product design and reduce its cost. What then?
It’s tour time
You can start by asking questions. Send an email or pick up the phone and find out what technologies are used to make your products, and why. Better yet, take a tour of their facility, even if it’s a virtual one. Some shops encourage customers and potential clients to come onsite, kick the tires, and get a feel for the machine tools, software systems, and all the rest of what’s needed to produce precision parts. Here at Prismier, for example, we sponsored an open house in late 2019, and if it weren’t for the current COVID-19 situation, we’d be having another within the next couple of months. Hopefully next year.
Visitors to our last event got the chance to see a wide range of equipment. There was our newest machine, a 4kW BySmart fiber laser from Bystronic. We call it The Dragon. It’s several times faster and a whole lot bigger than our old CO2 laser, it can slice through steel and aluminum sheet and plate stock with ease, and is equipped with an automated material handling system. Granted, you might not care about all this manufacturing brilliance until you realize that modern machinery like this goes a long way towards meeting your price, delivery, and quality objectives.
Right next to the Bystronic there’s a machine called a Timesavers Lynx. It’s a little like the buffer/sander you might use to polish up a vintage Cadillac, except this one’s on steroids. It makes parts smooth and pretty in no time. Flanking that is a row of three Mitsubishi press brakes. All are programmed offline using special bending software (that’s what press brakes do) from a company called Metamation. This greatly reduces downtime and scrap, while eliminating the surprises that might lead to delivery delays.
Keep walking. There’s the welding department. It uses equipment from Miller, an industry leader. There’s no time to talk about TIG, MIG, and all the other types of welding, except to say that Miller’s multi-process welders make what is often a challenging task both easier and more predictable. After the welders, you’ll get a taste of our stamping capabilities, followed by our tool room (check out the Okamoto Linear B Series surface grinder), an electro-mechanical assembly area, and a host of secondary processing equipment including presses and hardware insertion machines.
Last but not least, there’s our quality room. Among all the other metrology (the study of measuring) equipment and ISO-compatible software systems, it’s here that you’ll find our FARO Quantum ScanArm coordinate measuring machine (CMM). Again, it’s a quick tour, so I can’t go into all the techno-wizardry behind what is clearly a magical device, but remember how you said good parts are important? Along with robust process control and computerized machine tools, this is a big part of any quality assurance equation.
These brief descriptions pay short shrift to all that we’ve accomplished here at Prismier, and represent but a small part of our capabilities. For more than fifteen years, we’ve continued our push towards excellence in all that we do. We call it Manufacturing Simplified. We’re hoping for another opportunity to show off our facility with you soon, but until then, give us a call. We’ll explain how competitive pricing, excellent quality, and on-time delivery is just the start of all that we can provide.