Why is my CNC machining supplier less helpful now?

17th Jul 2023
by Sam Brown

Picture the scene: you spend months looking for a new CNC machining supplier. You find someone who seems like the right fit, you place your first order and everything seems fine; receiving your parts on time and to specification. Maybe your second order is fine too. But as the months roll on, you start to notice a shift: you’ve been downgraded from ‘new customer’ (for which the red carpet is rolled out) to just ‘customer’ (sorry no red carpet for you).

As a precision machining company, we understand the importance of a strong relationship between suppliers and customers.

In this blog post, I’ll explore some common issues that may have arisen with your existing CNC machining supplier. From quality and consistency concerns to communication gaps and inflexible approaches, I’ll shed light on the signs that indicate it might be time to consider a new supplier.

Join me as I delve into the reasons behind these frustrations and help you navigate the process of finding a more reliable CNC machining partner.


Can your suppliers cope with increasing pressure?

Is your CNC machining supplier fine when it comes to prototype work but less good when production ramps up? Does their quality suffer when the pressure is on?

Perhaps they do a great job with your initial prototype but then fail to consider special requirements that come to light during pre-production and initial production runs?

Quality and consistency issues can make some suppliers very defensive – and therefore painful to deal with.

It’s not just small precision machining company that can make mistakes. Larger ones can get complacent about quality and customer care.

Have you encountered any/all of these quality issues with your supplier?

  • Not securing the parts carefully enough when machining them – damaging the surface finish where they have been clamped
  • Using metal clamps on plastics that are vulnerable to scratches
  • Not deburring or finishing parts properly
  • Not understanding which facets are customer facing (and therefore require finishing finesse).

Not only are these incredibly frustrating, but they can also cause unnecessary delays in your project – wasting time and money.


Is your supplier asking you the right questions?

Here at Penta, we believe that clear and effective communication is central to a CNC machining service. In fact, communication is one of our three Cs – communication, care, and consistency.

At the forefront of successful communication is asking the right questions. A CNC machining supplier needs to ask the right questions upfront to glean the right information, smooth the process and avoid potentially costly mistakes.

It’s not just about asking questions; it’s about questioning the answers and digging deeper for detail – as a matter of due diligence – to ensure that we’ve got to the heart of the engineering challenge that held up the previous suppliers on your project.


Have you allowed price to dictate quality?

And by that I mean not just the quality of the finished components but also the quality of the service: the journey is equally as important as the destination.

I’m sure you’ll know all too well that getting the right parts at the right price is crucial. But sometimes it can feel like a costly victory if the supplier was painful to deal with. Was it really worth the hassle? How much did all that extra time cost in financial terms?

Customer service (and often product quality/consistency) will suffer if your suppliers are operating on wafer-thin margins.

Yes, you have to get the best price. But you also need good customer service to get the parts you need on time, every time. Cheap parts can be a false economy.


Is the quality control sufficiently rigorous?

Quality control is all about expertise, experience and – above all – attention to detail. Any supplier that tries to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to quality control and consistency will come unstuck sooner or later.

So don’t assume that a certification – however robust and specialist it may be – is enough to assuage any worries you might have about a supplier’s approach to quality control. Go down that road and you’re simply ticking a box.

Quality-obsessed machining companies know that an approach that works for one application may not be sufficient for another. And they are not afraid to make their inspections more rigorous for projects that call for it.

After all, there’s a lot at stake – such as their reputation as a premium quality supplier that is trusted to ship to stock, bypassing the normal Goods In checks and inspections.


Is your machining partner flexible enough to meet your changing requirements?

In the fast-moving world of CNC machining, there is the danger that your specialised project could eventually end up becoming ‘just another job’. Especially if it’s a low-volume order and your existing supplier is a large company.

It’s unfortunate that often their big bread-and-butter contracts are likely to get preferential treatment. That doesn’t bode well for your essential projects when you need some flexibility.

A good precision machining company should be a trusted partner: one that can offer you flexible deliveries to help spread the cost – and offer opportunities to buy at best value. They should also have the capacity to respond to sudden increases in demand.

So they’re always there for you when you need them. Good machining companies are always busy – because they’re always in demand. But they should never be too busy to help you. Or to accommodate your individual requirements.


Time to change your supplier?

Don’t settle for a sub-par CNC machining supplier. If lots of this is ringing true, maybe it’s time to start looking for a new machining partner.

Our free Guide to Changing Suppliers will guide you on finding potential new suppliers, what to look for and we provide you with handy checklists.

Download the guide now

Click here to get Your Guide to Changing Suppliers