Choosing a High Volume Stamping Vendor
Choosing a stamper to provide high volume stamping services should not be undertaken lightly. A variety of issues should be considered and discussed with potential stamping vendors prior to having large volumes of components produced using their services. These issues include:
What material options are best suited for the application?
It is advisable to examine the various materials options available and compare their respective costs and end-user benefits. Different materials with similar performance characteristics often vary widely in cost and ease of formability, and the users of metal stamping services can save themselves significant costs by examining all the available material options.
At what volumes do price breaks occur, and is it worth committing to larger volumes of stamped components to reduce the per part cost?
The economics achieved by a longer stamping run must be weighed against the forecasted need and cost of holding a finished goods inventory. If inventory carrying costs are less than what would have been paid through smaller production runs with higher costs, then it is probably a wise decision.
Do potential stamping vendors have the ability to provide maintenance for existing or to-be-created tooling?
Metal stampers that have the ability to provide tool maintenance will have less downtime when tool problems occur and understand the modifications or repairs that must be made as a result of having run the tool in their presses. The inability of the metal stamper to maintain a customer's tooling can cause a number of negative impacts. These include:
- Not making required minor tool modifications.
- Incurring downtime and extended customer deliveries due to tool damage that cannot be easily or quickly repaired.
- Losing current customers due to cancelled or delayed orders.
- Causing current customers to evaluate other vendors due to poor deliveries or delayed shipments.
- Causing the end-users' customers to cancel orders or business,
- Forcing existing customers to evaluate alternatives to their existing production to eliminate their problems.
Soft vs. hard tooling
At what volume level does soft tooling lose its cost advantage over hard tooling?
When a tool is used for high volume stamping on an on-going basis, it is typically more advantageous to develop a hard tool. End-users should conduct a cost comparison based on various volumes to determine the best tooling option for a specific application. If cost comparisons are not made for tooling, a number of negative impacts can occur to the OEM. These include:
- Building, and paying for, soft tooling several times to accommodate the end-users volume needs.
- Incurring a high part defect rate due to soft tool deformation or failure if soft tooling is overused.
- Investing in hard tooling that is not required to produce the needed part, wasting valuable dollar resources.
- Finding a lower-cost part production alternative due to high hard tooling costs.
- Paying high hard tooling routine maintenance costs that exceed the costs of producing redundant soft tooling.
Can the potential stampers provide part and tool design assistance?
Stampers that provide part and tool design services ensure that the desired part is correctly engineered so that it can be economically produced, and the tool will function as planned in the press, saving material costs and increasing production efficiency.
What are the lead times from order to ship date?
It is critical to understand the average lead times of the metal stamping vendor being considered so end-users can safely manage inventory and production planning without needing to make an investment in a large safety stock, reducing inventory carrying costs.
Can current or planned tools be run in more than one of the potential metal stamper's presses?
Metal stampers that can run current tools in more than one of their stamping presses provide customers with increased manufacturing versatility and stamping production redundancy, minimizing, or eliminating, delivery problems that result from equipment failure. If a metal stamper is not easily able to run a customer's tooling in multiple presses, problems can occur. These include:
- Incurring production and end-user customer delivery problems due to the stampers' inability to alter their scheduling to meet production needs due to a failed press.
- Delaying normal internal production, creating backlogs and customer problems until the press or tooling is repaired.
- Losing customer orders if the press continues to fail.
- Losing the ability to increase production, even if redundant tooling exists, if a tool set can only be run in one press.
Do the metal stampers being evaluated build redundant tooling so customer parts can always be run - even when a tool is being serviced?
Metal stampers that make the investment to build redundant tooling provide their customers with the extra assurance that even if a tool is out of service for maintenance or repair, custom stamped component parts will still be produced on schedule, eliminating production downtime and the need for the end-user to build up extra stock during tooling maintenance.
Is conventional metal stamping the optimum method for producing the required part or is there another cost effective process that is better suited?
Processes that may be cost effective alternatives, dependent on run size and part requirements, include laser cutting, water jet cutting, or the use of a turret press to achieve similar part results. If process comparisons are not made and carefully evaluated by the OEM, a number of negative impacts can occur. These include:
- Incurring unnecessary expenses for developing hard or soft tooling.
- Extending critical lead times for developing hard or soft tooling.
- Delaying production while tools are being developed.
- Incurring excessive per part cost in comparison to other potential processes.
- Bypassing processes that could yield a final better-finished part.
Special coating needs
Are the potential custom metal stampers being evaluated set up to apply any special finished part coatings that may be required?
Many parts require special coatings that need to be applied before, during, or after the metal stamping process. End-users can incur significant extra costs if the selected stamper is not set-up to efficiently handle needed coating requirements.
Does the potential stamper have ability to store, manage, and ship finished goods inventory as required?
Metal stampers that have the ability (and provide the extra service) to hold finished goods customer inventory allow their customers to take advantage of the "economies of scale" by running high volumes of parts, inventorying them, and then shipping them as required.
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