Metal Fabrication - Price vs Quality

Oct 25 2023

Budgets are tight. With the cost of materials and labor rising and all industries feeling the pressure of the economic climate, finding the best price for metal fabrication is at the forefront. In uncertain times, protecting the bottom line is vital. However, when you are looking to cut costs, you need to make a good look not just at price, but at value. While it may seem logical to go with the lowest bid, if that lowest bid will result in a poor quality product that will not last or meet the standards of your customers, going with the bottom line price is a poor investment that will increase your total cost in the long run in terms of revenue and cost. When you are comparing bids for your next project, ask questions about what makes the bargain pricing so low.

Metal fabricator working on a custom project in a fabrication shop.

Cutting Costs Often Means Cutting Quality with Substitutions

You may assume that all materials in metal fabrication are the same, so a lower price is nothing more than a bargain. The reality is that when a metal fabrication shop needs to cut costs, the easiest way to do that is to use low quality materials. Substandard materials, usually sourced from overseas with dubious origins and indeterminate quality, cost less than high quality domestic materials. Cheap substitutions in material and components can cause an end product to fail, even if it claims to meet regulatory standards. When the materials cost is too good to be true, check to make sure that the material used in your project will be domestic steel with a guarantee that the basic standards have been met. Substitutions in materials are not a way you want to cut costs.

Taking Shortcuts in Manufacturing Leads to a Decline in Quality

Metal fabrication is a complex skill that requires quality welders and machinists. For many metal fabrication projects to be completed up to code, they need to be done in a certain way, and certain processes take time. A high-quality metal fabrication shop will make sure that they have qualified technicians working to meet and exceed the standards that will allow the final product to meet requirements. If your fabrication shop with the unbeatable price is quoting cheap labor, it’s important to look at how they are keeping those costs down. Are they using unqualified welders, are they skipping processes, or worse, are they doing both? Shortcuts and skipped steps in quality metal fabrication means welds that don’t meet industry standards. If the price of labor seems too good to be true, it likely is.

Make Sure You are Looking at the Full Bid – Not Just the Price

One of the most popular tricks to make a bid low is to include only the absolute bare bones in the initial quote and add on expenses during the fabrication process. Most high-quality shops never need to add additional charges, because the projects are planned thoroughly in advance with no need for extras. When you are comparing prices between metal fabrication shops for your project, look at how thoroughly the project is broken down and everything that is included in the job. A low price often means a bare bones job with cheap materials, and then as complications arise, extras will be added until the final cost is just as much as the high-quality, skilled fabrication shop that was dismissed as being too expensive. In addition, a high-quality shop will add additional value through customization to make the final product exactly what you need – not merely something that is “close enough”. Taking the time to meet with the team can ensure that you understand the value you are getting, not just the initial price quoted.

Heavy Fabrication Capabilities

Quality Metal Fabrication 

Low priced shops often can’t deliver on their promises. With low quality materials, substandard fabricators, and the complications that will inevitably arise, you may not get the quality you expect. Substandard metal fabrication shops aren’t able to get you your project on time because they tend to overpromise and underdeliver, especially once they have the contract signed. A high-quality metal fabrication shop can meet your deadline and delivery metrics because they have taken the time to plan out your project and understand the timeline with full intention to keep it. 

High-Quality Reduces Risk

Quality control requires regular and consistent checking and testing, catching problems before they become hazards. When a metal fabrication shop is consistently checking machines, they can do maintenance before a failure that endangers the workers and puts your product at risk. When the metal fabrication team is trained and certified in best practices, they can do their jobs well. Quality control practices will reduce the risk of product failure or danger to the user.

Price, quality, and value are three different things. Metal fabrication demands high-quality to avoid failure, maintain integrity, and ensure compliance to industry standards. Quality materials need to be handled, stored, and shipped correctly, workers need to be qualified and certified in best practices, and standards need to be upheld in every product. There are numerous benefits to choosing quality and value over price when comparing bids for metal fabrication, rather than just looking at the number on the bid. The current economic climate is difficult for every industry, but investing in quality will provide better value in the long run. To learn more about our extensive capabilities in metal fabrication or to get a quote on your next project, contact Swanton Welding today.

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