In industries like defense, aerospace, and medical, finding CNC machine shops in Massachusetts capable of delivering the necessary quality, quick and dependable delivery, and competitive price can appear an elusive thing. It is akin to discovering the rare player in baseball that can hit for average, with power, field, throw and base run that doesn’t have a record breaking contract.
By good fortune, such precision CNC machine shops in MA do exist. The difficulty, nevertheless, is in locating a machine shop that will really deliver all that it assures in reality, and not only on paper.
Massachusetts CNC machine shops – whether reputable and proficient, or not – all claim to deliver all of the above and more. Many have the exact same type and caliber of machining equipment, but that alone doesn’t make for quality parts, each time. Quality standards including ISO and AS certifications go a long way, but these are not enough to ensure perfect quality machined parts.
And then there is price. While much less significant as quality for industries including aerospace, defense, and medical equipment manufacturing, if the selection is between parts manufacturers that on paper seem similar, it will become a determining factor. However, if the price is too good to be true, it likely is, as well as the end result can be subpar quality, missed deadlines, higher total overall costs, damage to reputation, and even litigation.
So how can OEMs choose the right shop for parts? While there’s no magic bullet, the responses to a few FAQs will go a long way toward picking a Massachusetts machine shop that can deliver the necessary mixture of consistent high quality, quick delivery, and competitive pricing.
1. For High Tolerance Work, How Do Massachusetts Machine Shops Ensure Perfect Quality Each Time?
‘Perfect’ quality means that when an OEM puts an order for parts, they’ll be within the tolerances specified. These endurance can be .0001” and tighter and applies to straightness, hole size, outer diameter (OD), inner diameter (ID), and other size/shape specifications.
“Businesses require ‘perfect’ quality because you can’t have one part compromising the quality of the assembled system,” says Chuck DeLong, Owner of Harvard Manufacturing Inc. “If one part goes into an assembly of 50 parts, and 49 are perfect, the single imperfect component can prevent product assembly or leave the product damaged and undeliverable.”
Quality is normally measured in rejection speed, measured in parts per million. Now, the acceptable rate of rejection continues to drop lower, heading toward the ideal of zero. To make a perfect part each time, CNC machine shops in Massachusetts look for ways to continuously improve and maintain tooling, check fixtures and upgrade to the latest, state of the art equipment.
Each new generation of CNC equipment, after all, is commonly more precise, programmable, and quicker than the one that preceded it. Harvard Manufacturing Inc. for example, budgets a sizeable part of its earnings to routinely upgrade to the latest CNC mills, lathes, and Swiss screw machines.
CNC machine shops in MA also look to acquire the maximum quality metals and materials, since these workflow through the shop with fewer difficulties and produce higher quality components. Purchasing from prime sources with complete traceability is, in addition, critical to ensure that quality starts with all the raw materials.
Another manner parts manufacturers maintain consistent quality is by investing in automated inspection and measuring equipment, like coordinate measuring machines (CMM). Instead of manual measurement, which can be lead to inconsistent results, CMM utilizes computer-controlled touch probes to quantify various aspects of a part.
Although perfect quality does come at a price, the higher cost up front frequently saves money on the back end.
“For the OEM, perfect quality means they don’t have to reject the part, send it back, have it reworked and delay their deliveries. For the OEM’s customer, it gives them assurance the parts they purchase will work as promised every time,” says Chuck.
2. How Do I Choose a Parts Manufacturer in Massachusetts with Confidence They Will Provide the Quality They Promise?
Reviewing a machine shop and seeing the facility could provide an OEM with a great deal of assurance that a high tolerance machine shop will undoubtedly manage to provide a high-valued part every time.
Check for capacity availability, quality control and testing systems (including how often the instrumentation is re-calibrated). The OEM should also evaluate the staff they meet in reference to how well they understand their quality needs.
Moreover, ask about the machine on the shop floor. As mentioned, precision machine shops ought to be consistently investing in the most recent machinery. At Harvard Manufacturing Inc, this is achieved on a closely regulated automatic schedule of replacing.
Cleanliness and shop organization can also be major indicators of how good they are at manufacturing.
3. What Is the Simplest Way to Ensure On-Time Delivery Without Fail?
Most delivery date delays are due to shipping to multiple businesses and places for secondary operations for example part finishing, forming, coating, welding and assembly. Any blunders along the way only boost the delays, especially if a vendor attributes a sub-contractor for the mistake and does not take responsibility for correcting it.
For this reason, more CNC machine shops in Massachusetts are adding ancillary services which go beyond traditional machining techniques.
“The surest way to ensure on time delivery is to work with a vendor which offers a full-variety of primary and secondary machine shop services, that’ll require full duty without dropping the baton,” says Chuck. “When all essential procedures are done in one place, rather than shipped out to a series of contractors, delivery times can frequently be cut by a month or two.”
Often, fast turnaround and reducing costs just comes down to dealing with a machine shop in MA that spends the time to ask inquiries and actually comprehend the customer’s expectations.
“Quick turnaround is often directly related to asking all the correct questions up front,” says Chuck, whose company always provides on-time delivery each month. “There are consistently different ways to achieve the precise blueprint tolerances, but sometimes allowances are needed for a part. Asking the right questions saves lots of time when it’s time to run the parts.”
4. Are There Other Approaches to Keep Prices Down, Without Compromising Quality?
“Buying direct in volume from metal manufacturers, not providers, removes a complete layer of cost markup from the buying process,” says Chuck. “CNC Machine Shops in Massachusetts can translate this into a savings of hundreds of dollars even before the part is made.”