6 Essential Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Sheet Metal Fabricator

Sheet metal fabrication projects have high stakes. By the time a business is looking for a sheet metal fabricator, ownership has likely invested considerable time and money into product development. Finding the right partner can often be the difference between that investment turning into a profit or becoming a financial burden compounded by a host of avoidable problems.

A common mistake is selecting a sheet metal fabricator based solely on cost. While it’s certainly a factor of great importance, cost must be weighed alongside a sheet metal fabricator’s overall experience, quality and reputation. An experienced, well-trained team of employees, certified welders, and robust quality control program can prevent those avoidable project snafus and delays mentioned above.

Details on the proper approach are outlined below. If you prefer to not take unnecessary risks with your next project, consider the following questions when evaluating the right sheet metal fabricator for your job:

How long has the sheet metal fabricator been in business?

The experience of a sheet metal fabricator is significant for two reasons. If the company is new to the industry, it’s entirely possible overall efficiency is taking a hit because of the lack of experience in the shop. Simply put, the company might still be “working out the kinks,” which directly translates to a loss of overall quality in your finished project. Additionally, an inexperienced shop is less likely to have the wherewithal to offer design and manufacturability improvements that can solve production challenges.

Secondly, it’s important to know if your potential partner has taken on similar projects in the past. Be sure to press management about their knowledge as it relates to certifications and regulations specific to your industry.

Badger Sheet Metal Works (BSMW) has been providing high-quality custom metal fabrication solutions for nearly 100 years. It’s known as one of the area’s leading custom metal fabrication companies, boasting a customer base that includes packaging machines, material handling, mining and paper, pharmaceutical, medical devices, food and dairy, oil and gas, plus others. The team’s ability to complete a variety of custom steel fabrication tasks, including multiple grades of stainless steel, makes BSMW one of the most versatile custom metal fabrication companies in the region.

Does the sheet metal fabricator have ‘the goods’ to get it done?

Equipment alone can’t guarantee a sheet metal fabricator’s compatibility with your project, but a shop that stays on top of the industry’s ever-evolving technology is one major step ahead of competitors who don’t. A company committed to obtaining and maintaining updated equipment will be capable of increased productivity and enhanced quality of what it turns out.

BSMW has equipment ranging from laser and waterjet cutting technologies to a CNC machining center, with wet painting and other finishing capabilities also provided on site.

BSMW most recently added an ARKU 3000 deburring machine and LYNX Timesaver that can polish plate sheet to a #4 finish. 

Can the sheet metal fabricator keep the project in-house?

An ideal sheet metal fabrication partner should be able to handle your project from first steps to finalization. That means all aspects, from design to finishing and shipment, can be completed in-house. It’s not uncommon to find companies that outsource finishing or even require you to find a separate vendor.

With a turnkey sheet metal fabricator, the stress of coordinating between multiple contractors is eliminated. Moreover, the professionals who helped design and fabricate your part will know which finishing process and coating are the best fit. In the end, you save time, money and the aggravation of having to enlist multiple companies to see your project through.

BSMW’s ability to complete a wide range of services in-house makes it an efficient contract sheet metal fabrication partner. Painting, insulation and other specialized services enable the company to deliver turnkey projects to its customers.

Is the sheet metal fabricator certified?

Certification offers assurances that a fabricator has the processes, knowledge and commitment to produce components that meet the standard of quality required by your industry.

Avoid the trap of believing a sizable facility and modern equipment prove a company is prepared to handle your project. Verify their certifications are relevant and up-to-date to safeguard your project from failure.

BSMW’s Welding Certifications: AWS D1.1, AWS D1.2, AWS D1.3, AWS D1.6

Is the pricing too good to be true?

No matter how it competitively prices services, proactively communicates or promises turnaround time, a sheet metal fabricator can’t cut it if it doesn’t deliver on quality. Mistakes and delays, caused by insufficient quality control, can compromise an entire project.

Ask about the quality assurance measures a company has implemented throughout the fabrication process, as well as what inspections and tests are conducted upon completion.

Consider an ambiguous answer a significant red flag. Sheet metal fabricators producing top-of-the-line components should be able to walk you through their entire quality control methodology in a thorough and understandable way.

BSMW’s has an ISO 9001:2015-compliant Quality Management System in place. This means the sheet metal fabricator has the systems and controls to keep its customers completely satisfied. BSMW has an on-staff CWI and a fully-staffed final inspection department to ensure the parts customers receive are correct and built to their specifications. Building high-quality parts that meet customers’ requirements is, and has always been, a driving passion at BSMW.

What’s being said about them?

Don’t hesitate to ask for references. A reputable company will be happy to offer up current or previous partners who can speak on their behalf. Also, do a little digging of your own by reading through case studies or testimonials on their website and finding reviews through Google and social media. The research should provide good indicators of the quality, efficiency and customer service you can expect from a company.

Find Badger Sheet Metal Works on Social Media: Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

Wrapping up

Trusting a new partner with a large, expensive custom metal fabrication project is understandably nerve-wracking. It’s the reason a well-researched and measured decision is so important.

Take the time to carefully consider every critical aspect of what your sheet metal fabrication project will require. Due diligence is the only line of defense against a potentially disastrous partnership.

The Badger Sheet Metal Works’ team is ready to answer any questions you might have to help you choose the fabricator that will be an asset for your business. Contact Kenny Coe, director of sales, at (920) 435-8881 to talk about your next project, set up a tour of the facility or clarify the capabilities of Badger Sheet Metal Works.

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