Communication: Quoting Process

The Effects of Communication During the Quoting Process

Often times in the machining industry we work with customers who provide only a drawing or STEP file for quotation purposes. The drawing is reviewed looking for type of material, key features, dimensions, tolerances and any finishes that may apply. When manufacturers receive an order and begin the manufacturing process it can become a quagmire very quickly. Sometimes certain features are not called out on the drawing and are only identified once production is begun thereby creating a delay in the process until a solution is determined. Many times a part has been built before by another machining supplier who has run into problems and has determined a viable solution, but it’s not passed on the current supplier. There are many additional problems that can cost a delay in time or ability to build the part to spec.

All of this can be avoided by implementing a sound product/process review prior to the manufacturing process beginning. Once a customer delivers a purchase order to the supplier, organize a meeting if feasible, or a tele-conference to address the significant items which provides full understanding of the ramifications of a successful build cycle.

Who should be involved in this review?

From the customer’s side it is important to have someone from engineering who has been involved with the part, or if it’s a new part, someone from design engineering who can discuss the features. It’s also important to have someone from supply chain who has been involved who may have “tribal knowledge” based on previous experiences with the part. Another positive approach is to have a representative from the Quality department included who can detail any specific requirements from the QC standpoint.

 Key questions from the manufacturers standpoint:

  • Has someone else tried to manufacture this part and failed in the past? If this is true, is there an understanding of why they failed. In our experience we have seen many times when we have had issues, and we indicated the problem to the customer, they have said, “oh, the last supplier had the same problem, and this is how they fixed it”. This is important to identify up-front if possible. It saves a lot of time.
  • What processes were used to manufacture the part in the past? It’s important to know, as it can help when we set the job up to take into consideration the way different machines operate.
  • Based on the material callout, are there any other materials that can be used? If there are options, it can help with a material lead-time problem, or perhaps the optional material is better suited for trouble-free manufacturing, thereby lowering cycle times and cost.
  • If very tight tolerances are called out, can they be opened up? If material needs to go out for grinding to meet these tight tolerances, it adds cost. Cycle time can be increased due to holding difficult dimensions.  Even changing radial callouts to chamfers can help improve the manufacturing process.  Any opportunities to reduce cycle time are critical in reducing cost.
  • What is the application of the part? By knowing its application the manufacture can make suggestions which can lower costs, based on each dimensions affect on functionality. Maybe they have another customer using a similar part for a similar application which can be built at a lower cost.
  • How complex is the part? Often we see parts that are very complex that really don’t need to be that complex. After discussing the complexity with the customer, some of the parameters can be lowered leading to reduced costs.
  • On NEW parts, an upfront review can lead to a more efficient build process. The more that is known up-front leads to fewer problems during the manufacturing process.

Based on thirty years of building thousands of parts for hundreds of customers, early communication between the manufacturer and the customer leads to a trouble-free build, which results in both parties, saving a lot of time and consequently, additional incurred costs.

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