Why Are My CNC Machining Suppliers Less Helpful Now?

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Why Are My Existing CNC Machining Suppliers Less Helpful Now?

29th Mar 2021
by Edward Moss

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Can Your Suppliers Cope With Increasing Pressure?

Are your machining suppliers fine when it comes to 3D printing or basic prototype work…but less good when production ramps up? Does their quality suffer when the pressure is on?

Or do they do a great job when it come to the initial prototype…but then fail to take into account 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.

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It’s not just small precision engineering companies that can make mistakes. Some of the larger ones can get complacent about quality and customer care. Issues can include:

  • 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).

And this is on components destined for complex and expensive medical equipment with a six-figure price tag! It’s not right on any project – and certainly not on ones involving cutting-edge technology at the forefront of modern medicine.

Is Your Supplier Asking You The Right Questions?

Penta has been following the three ‘C’s ethos – ‘communication, care, consistency’ – since long before we adopted it as a mantra. So it surprises us when larger competitors don’t.

And ‘communication’ appears first for a reason: without it, you’re less likely to get much ‘care’ and ‘consistency’. It’s about asking the right questions upfront to smooth the process and avoid the kind of foul-ups that made you unhappy with your other machining suppliers.

It’s also 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 we mean not just the quality of the finished components but also the quality of service: the journey is just as important as the destination.

As a procurement specialist, you’ll know all too well that getting the right kit 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 all that 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.

Is The Quality Control Sufficiently Rigorous?

This 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 are simply ticking a box.

Quality-obsessed machining companies know that an approach which 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, high-mix world of CNC machining, there is the danger that your specialised project could eventually end up becoming ‘just another job’. Especially if it is a low-volume order and your existing supplier is a large company.

Medical devices – by their very nature – tend to be manufactured in smaller numbers (though some can require larger batches). And they can involve more work due to critical component requirements. Small numbers plus high technical demands is a less-than-desirable combination for an average machining company that prefers simple high-volume work.

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 specialist requirements.

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Why It Pays To Get Penta Involved

Here at Penta Precision we have a reputation for troubleshooting: we like to sort out difficult challenges for purchasing professionals – whether they’re buyers or specifiers.

And we can help fellow precision engineering companies to fix projects that have run into difficulties. They will often call us for assistance.

Like many firms, we’re ISO 9001:2015 accredited for quality assurance – but we’re different because our proven validated processes run far deeper. We succeed where others fail:

  • we communicate well 
  • we take care at each stage
  • our service is consistent.

"I'd just like to say thank you for turning this job around so quickly. We received the goods a day earlier than scheduled and they were of excellent quality. We will use Penta again most definitely." James - Principal Engineer

Tel: 023 9266 8334

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Penta Precision Engineering Ltd

Unit 9 

Murrills Industrial Estate



PO16 9RD

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