Selecting a supplier partner for any manufacturing process is an important decision, and there are many factors to consider other than the final price per piece. When working with a contract manufacturer, you are trusting your partner to deliver on the promise of your brand to your customers and end consumers. Failure to deliver on lead times, quality issues, and other headaches may have you considering whether a low price supplier is really worth the savings…but how can you decide when it’s time to switch?

We understand that making the decision to move a product line to a new supplier is complicated, and you may be wondering if it’s worth the trouble. In this article, we’ll discuss five critical signs to look for when making this decision.

Sign #1: Lack of Engineering Expertise and Customer Support

High rejection rates can signal that your part designs may need to be optimized for manufacturability when it comes to metal stamping. A good supplier will be able to provide these resources directly, working with your engineering team to ensure your part numbers are set up for success. Without this support, your team will be left to figure out the issue on their own, or you’ll need to find outside expertise elsewhere to help solve the problem. 

Finally, great customer support should be a minimum expectation of a partner you’re entrusting with your reputation. If your emails and phone calls are going unanswered, then it may be time to make a switch.

Sign #2: Large Amounts of Rejected Parts

High rejection rates from your metal stamping supplier can occur as a result of many root causes—all of which should give purchasing decision-makers pause when considering whether to continue existing relationships. 

Rejected parts can be a symptom of improperly maintained metal stamping equipment or tooling. If your supplier is cutting corners when it comes to taking care of their equipment, they could be taking other shortcuts in their processes that could potentially put your business at risk. 

As we previously mentioned, high rates of rejects in the metal stamping process can also be a sign that the design of your parts needs to be optimized for manufacturability. Not every metal stamping supplier has the in-house engineering expertise to provide guidance in this area. Finding one who does can correct these issues before they cause more production problems and cost you even more time and money.

Sign #3: Unexpected Tooling Replacement and Repair Expenses

In addition to trusting your metal stamping supplier with the integrity of your brand, you’re also placing a high degree of trust in them to protect your investment in tooling. If your tooling isn’t lasting as long as you expect, it can mean that your supplier is not taking care of it properly. 

Some suppliers tend to use “chewing gum and duct tape”-type solutions to keep tooling working when it actually needs more significant repairs—using shims or wooden blocks to hold components in place is one example. This can affect the quality of your parts (and could be a reason for the high rejection rates we mentioned above) and cause your tooling to wear out sooner than it should. 

When evaluating suppliers, it’s a best practice to ask about their tooling maintenance systems and abilities. A metal stamping supplier with tooling expertise and in-house capabilities can save you thousands of dollars and countless headaches over the lifetime of a parts program.

Sign #4: Missed Delivery Dates and Timelines

No manufacturer is a stranger to supply chain challenges, especially post-2020. Missed lead times, however, should be the exception rather than the rule. And in the case of extreme circumstances that affect your metal stamping supplier’s ability to deliver on time, you should expect proactive, transparent communication. 

Sign #5: Time Spent Juggling Multiple Suppliers

Many parts produced using metal stamping require additional processing including welding, riveting, assembly, plastic over-molding, heat treating, and more. If you’re a tier-one manufacturer or OEM, the more suppliers you have to juggle, the more complex your job becomes…and it can also be difficult to get a partner to assume full accountability for the quality of the product you receive. 

Selecting a metal stamping supplier with these ancillary capabilities (or a network of relationships with high-quality suppliers who provide them) can simplify your process, saving time and giving you much-needed accountability. LMC Industries, for example, has an entire plastic injection molding operation under the same roof as our metal stamping facility. Many of our customers enjoy the simplicity of working with a single supplier for both services, and they also get the benefit that our team owns the entire outcome of their finished parts. 

Are You Experiencing Any of These Issues? We Can Help.

If you’re feeling the pain of any of these issues with your current metal stamping supplier, LMC Industries can help. Our team of engineers has nearly a century of combined experience helping our customers solve tough production challenges, and we also have a proven track record of successfully serving elite manufacturers with exceptionally high quality standards. If your parts require plastic over-molding, we can bring that process under our roof as well to help simplify your process. 

These benefits are only the beginning of what LMC Industries has to offer to support your business. Connect with one of our experts today, bring us your challenges, and we’ll get to work solving them together.