Finding a metal fabrication company is not necessarily a difficult proposition. Finding the right metal fabrication company for your needs, however, will take some homework. That’s because metal fabricators tend to specialize in various sectors of manufacturing. This specialization works in your favor, as it ensures there are metal fabricators out there who have worked on projects just like yours. It is just a matter of finding them. Here’s a guide to what to look for in a metal fabrication company. Expertise You can quickly screen metal fabrication companies by first inquiring about their areas of expertise. Ask them about the size and scope of projects they have worked on. What was their largest project? Which provided the most challenges? You are looking to assess whether they have successfully completed any projects in the past that are similar to yours. Sorting by capabilities and expertise is a solid place to start when looking for a metal fabrication company. Experience It may not make a difference whether a metal fabricator has 25 or 30 years of experience, but it can help to know that they survived the economic downturn of 2008. Why can that be significant? Because that was a critical time of survival for the industry. Metal fabricators had to quickly learn to perform more efficiently and effectively. There was no room for waste and metal fabricators who survived that period generally became much better at managing their craft. Company Culture What are the company’s core values and mission? Do they coincide with yours? This is particularly critical if you are in search of building a long-term relationship with a metal fabricator. You may be better served by a company that you are in sync with as opposed to one that can save you a few dollars. Manufacturing is still a people business and you should surround yourself with vendors you can feel comfortable with. Quality Ask a metal fabricator about their quality control processes. Do they properly record and document the necessary processes and procedures to ensure that nothing is overlooked? Just as importantly, ask about what happens if a customer is not satisfied. Do they stand behind their work with a guarantee and what exactly does that include? Who are their suppliers and how are they selected? Have they established a lasting relationship with them? Long term, finding a company that is committed to quality will save you time and money. Timelines You want to be comfortable that a metal fabricator can meet your timelines. Do they have the space, equipment, material and staff to get projects done on time, each time? Do they have a history of delivering on time while maintaining quality? Some metal fabricators may take on projects bigger than they are. You don’t want to be on the wrong end of that relationship. It may be critical to ask them whether they can honor Just In Time Delivery (JIT) requirements on large projects to ensure costs are kept to a suitable level. Certifications It can be reassuring to know a metal fabricator is involved extensively in their industry. This demonstrates a commitment staying up to date on the latest strategies, techniques and safety protocols in metal fabrication. Certifications signify a company’s commitment to quality and safety while meeting the criteria you need to allow them to bid on the job. It may be required that your chosen fabrication company be certified with a certain safety program, such as ISNetworld or PICS, where you may not be able to grant them bidding opportunities unless they pass a certain safety standard. It’s important to check into these areas and ask about them when discussing the project. Facilities If you are managing a large scale project like those often seen in the oil, energy, or mining industries, you will want to ensure a potential partner has the facilities to produce projects of the magnitude you need. It can be well worth your time to visit their facilities if the project is of significant size. You’ll also want to verify that they have the experience and capabilities to transport the finished project to you. Large scale projects may even need to be shipped in segments. You want to be assured this is done properly without compromising your project schedule. References Just as in hiring an employee, getting references from a potential metal fabricator can be valuable. You must keep in mind however, that just like an employee would, they are likely only going to give you references from their most satisfied customers. Asking direct questions of a reference can help. Has the fabricator ever missed a deadline with them? How many projects have they completed for them? How did they first become a customer of that particular metal fabricator? Prepare questions in advance. Value Many confuse value with price and that can be a mistake. Of course the cost of a project is a significant part of your decision making process, but keep in mind there is a cost in being disappointed in the outcome. There is a cost if there are delays, project creep or unforeseen project management challenges. There is a cost if logistics aren’t properly managed. Make sure you include all factors in your final decision and carefully weigh the value of what a metal fabricator brings to the table. Finding the appropriate metal fabrication company for your particular project can make a significant positive impact. It is worth performing your due diligence to find that partner you can feel comfortable with and have confidence in.