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3 Tips for Working with a CNC Machining Vendor

The complexity of CNC Machining can seem overwhelming. CNC machines are quite complicated, and they require a specific know-how to operate them properly. It is important to rely on the professionals in the field, to achieve the best results. Although the process sounds complex, it does not need to be. In this article, we share some of our best tips for working with a CNC machining vendor.



Tip One: Clearly Communicate Your Part Requirements and Specifications


When working with a CNC machining vendor, it is important to thoroughly communicate your part requirements and specifications. Communication of incomplete information can result in loss of time and money. It is essential to have an open dialogue with your CNC machining vendor to ensure they have all the relevant information needed to create your parts before their work begins.


The first thing you should consider when sending work to a CNC machine shop is the part’s history. This is an often overlooked, but critical, dialogue which may include issues with previous runs of your parts or conveying all lessons learned in the past. Early communication of this historical data will yield tremendous returns because your CNC machining vendor will be able to provide targeted and proactive solutions to these problems instead of fighting them during or after production. You should also communicate all manufacturing necessities such as: are there restrictions for tooling materials, grit blasting materials, or part making specifications? Configuration control requirements, such as serial number sequencing, should be clearly conveyed, as well as lot control requirements (batches vs. lots). Lastly, communicate quality control requirements, such as inspection methods, sampling plans, and testing. By making sure all these requirements and specifications are properly communicated up front, you will establish a smooth transition with your CNC machining vendor. Having a CNC machine shop partner who is experienced and willing to have an open dialogue with their customers is a great benefit for your business. Stanley Machining, a women-owned small business is A Trusted Partner of a Stronger Future, one which begins with clear communication.


Tip Two: Turnaround Time Versus Cost


In an ideal world, you would always be able to secure the fastest turnaround time at the lowest part cost. Realistically, you may have to choose between lead time and cost when outsourcing parts to a CNC machining vendor.


Key Process Indicators or Quality Objectives may result in choosing to minimize lead time and miss out on lower cost options. Alternatively, the push to make cheaper product has resulted in many companies to seek out foreign machining shops which supply cheaper parts with longer lead times due to geographic distance. In general, seeking out a domestic CNC machining vendor will allow for optimal negotiation of lead time versus cost.


If you are able to house a large inventory of parts for future orders, you may be able to choose lower cost and higher turnaround times. In this instance, you will be able to have the negotiating leverage to secure the best prices. If you are not able to hold a stock supply, you may be able to utilize supply on demand with advanced forecasting based off projected sales. Accurate forecasting may also allow you to choose optimal lead times and prices. The more notice that you can provide your CNC machining vendor with, prior to placing an order for a new part, or one they have not machined in the past, the more likely you are to be satisfied with the quote you receive.



In general, the following rules of thumb may be useful in determining the choice between lead time and cost:


  1. If you can hold inventory of parts, accepting longer lead times for lower part costs is logical.

  2. Consider requesting an extension on a purchase order from your customers prior to agreeing to exorbitant costs due to a rush order. Your customer may have stock supply of the product you are supplying them, and they may be able to grant a one-time extension. If this happens, learn from it and enhance your forecasting protocol.

  3. Try looking to domestic CNC machine shops first for negotiating costs. If you obtain 3 quotes for the same product with varying costs and lead times, consider what requirements are crucial for the components in question. Getting a quality part while sacrificing price or lead time might be your best option.

  4. Never sacrifice quality for turnaround time or cost. Safety of the end users of your products is paramount. Poor quality can end up costing way more than excessive lead times or excess part costs.

  5. Reviewing case studies can also provide insight about how to handle the cost vs lead time question. MIT performed a study of three United States retailers and found that increasing frequency of purchases/deliveries of goods provided a greater benefit than reducing lead time.

Having a flexible CNC machining vendor is an extraordinary benefit when placing rush orders. The professionals at Stanley Machining will always strive to meet last minute requests and be there for our customers when they need it most. At Stanley Machining, we strive to provide quality parts, on time in the condition they requested, with a competitive price.


Looking for a partnership CNC machining vendor?


Contact the professionals at Stanley Machining to learn about how we can be your CNC machining vendor for both the planned and unexpected.



Tip Three: If You Have the Ability, Look to Your Vendor for Suggestions to Better Manufacture Your CNC Machined Parts


An engineering expert likely designed and oversaw the testing performed on the components you are outsourcing to a CNC Machine Shop. Similarly, the CNC machine shop employs experts in machined parts and the CNC machining equipment they utilize. Due to their knowledge and experience, it may be beneficial to consider their feedback which may help with the manufacturability of a part. At Stanley Machining, we want to be your CNC machining partner, not just a job shop you submit work to and never hear back from.


At Stanley Machining, we have decades of experience machining complex assemblies and precision components for a vast array of industries. We understand when requirements are entirely fixed and frozen and we will provide world-class machined parts in those scenarios. But, we also know that there are scenarios where we may be able to provide small opportunities for improvement, utilizing our decades of experience, including utilizing our experience to suggest optimizations in raw material selection or suggestions on manufacturing sequencing. At Stanley Machining, our professionals are always thinking of ways to optimize the outcome for our customers, so we are open to customers asking for our feedback and opportunities to save money or improve quality in the machining process. Because of this, it is always best for you to keep an open line of communication with your CNC machining vendor.


About Stanley Machining


Since 1966 Stanley Machining has been proudly providing unsurpassed, multi-industry contract manufacturing solutions to world renowned OEM's and government entities. As a global leader in precision CNC machining, we continue to provide unsurpassed expertise and value as a true partner with our customers. OEMs rely on our superior expertise and machining processes to enable them to maintain a competitive edge. We serve commercial and industrial sectors across a range of markets including defense, power, aerospace, and oil & gas.


We take pride in our quality assurance program and we are now AS9100 certified. We continuously re-invest in state-of-the-art equipment and the highest caliber quality professionals. Stanley is a woman-owned small business with just under 100 employees and 200 pieces of CNC equipment under 400,000 sq. ft. in two locations.


Let Stanley Machining be your point of contact for all your CNC machining vendor needs. Contact us today to learn more!