May 05 2022
Planning is an obvious and important first step in any project, no matter the industry. In our current economy, however, proper planning for your custom metal fabrication project is more important than ever. Demand for high-quality materials is high, the supply chain is a challenge, and meeting your timeline without your plans already in place may be nearly impossible.
Supply Chain Issues Continue
Supply chain issues have been going on for several years now and they aren’t improving as quickly as many hoped they would. In some cases, it’s not even the materials directly needed for the project, but rather materials that are needed for upkeep on the machinery. A simple piece for a line can significantly slow production down. Backups at jammed ports, a lack of truck drivers, labor shortages, and plant closures are all contributing to supply chain issues. Many companies were caught off guard by the pandemic’s impact, and they were not prepared, so recovery has been slow.
Build in Lead Time
Every industry is struggling with supply chain issues and increased lead times, and steel fabrication is no different. Rush jobs are nearly impossible in the current climate. When you are planning your steel fabrication project, anticipate these long lead times and build your project accordingly. When you give the shop enough time to source the supplies and work your project into the schedule, you will likely meet your deadline without concern.
Have the Final Drawings Ready for Your Project
When you bring your project to the fabrication shop, your final drawings need to be ready before the team can begin to do your build. If you are prepared only with a picture of the finished product, even as a CAD design, it will be impossible for the fabrication shop to work through the specifications. Your drawings will need to be prepared by an engineer and include all the specifications necessary to build out your project. If you don’t have the ability to prepare the final drawings, many fabrication shops can help by partnering you with an engineer to move your initial sketches to the final detailed drawings necessary for a quote and timeline from the fabricator.
Prioritize the Most Important Elements of Your Project
If high quality is the most important element of your fabrication project, a higher price or longer timeline may be the tradeoff. If low prices are your most important considerations, then you may be facing long timelines and lower quality materials. If a quick turnaround is the most important, you will likely need to pay more for expedited production and hard to find materials. In steel fabrication, customers will likely need to consider what is the most important and work from there with their fabrication partner to develop a plan that will meet their timelines, budgetary needs, and overall quality goals.
Be a Good Partner with Your Fabrication Shop
Planning is not only necessary, but it will also make you a good partner with your fabrication shop. We are all facing challenging times, and staying on the same page with your project manager will go a long way toward a good relationship with your fabrication partner. Everyone wants to move through this process, and focusing on finding the best solutions will likely get your project through with the least amount of stress.
Challenges are everywhere in manufacturing. Your best defense is thorough and innovative planning to meet the production challenges you’re facing head on. When you know what to expect from your fabrication shop, what they expect from you, and develop a plan to get to your finished product together, you’ll reap the rewards of a quality end product. If history has taught us anything, it’s that Swanton Welding is up to task. As an extension of your team, our welding and fabrication specialists are a trusted source for high quality custom metal fabrication. If you’re working out the details of your next project, contact us for a quote today!