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Tips for Buyer's

Trouble-Free Contracting of Machined Products

What are the most important considerations when purchasing the product?

Work with a supplier that is committed to a long-term relationship and has the technical expertise matched with the right equipment to support your needs. Nothing will cause your delivery or quality to suffer more than selecting a supplier based solely on low bidding.


I know I need a turned parts specialist, what process is most appropriate for my product?

In general a higher volume results in a lower price.  Shorter run products (<150 pieces) are best on CNC’s. As the volume increases, it becomes more cost effective to use the screw machine, depending upon the part complexity and tolerance.  If your products have cross-holes or milled flats, secondary operations may be required.  In general, high volume parts (50,000+) without really tight tolerances are best run on multiple spindle automatics.  Miniature parts or products that are long and slender are best on Swiss machines. Low to medium volume (50 to 20,000 pieces) can be produced economically on single-spindle screw machines; this is the type used by Fordsell Machine Products. At times, even the screw machine engineer has to carefully consider several alternatives before arriving at a final decision, so keep your options open. 

Should I pay a tooling expense?

The buyer should be informed of the non-recurring costs related to a production order. Costs of programming, tool design, fixtures and cams will not occur on a repeat order. It is really best for the buyer to have this cost differentiated from the part cost.

What effects the price of a part?

Two factors affect the price (a) cycle time to make one part and (b) setup time on the machine.  For a given part design,  (a) is fixed.  Consequently, as the volume increases, the price will fall as the setup is amortized into more parts.  Once the part is setup, production can run multiple shifts with production efficiencies improving as the job runs longer and longer. We can easily provide you with price breaks for multiple order quantities.

Should I consider an annual contract or blanket order?

For a stable part design with steady usage, there is no better way to optimize your costs and your supplier’s and to minimize the transaction costs associated with individual purchase orders

I have a job that will run year round, wouldn’t I save money buying a machine to produce the product in-house versus letting a subcontractor make the extra profit?

Contract shops of production machining of automatic bar products typically have the following advantages in economies of scale:

  •       Several machines of any given type

  •       Maintenance personnel specializing in bar automatics

  •       Process engineers and programmers

  •       Tool makers and a well equipped tool room

  •       Setup people specialized in each particular machine type

  •       Machine operators trained to run multiple machines scheduled for multiple shifts.

  •       Scheduling and procurement systems optimized for job shop and turning activities

One would assume it would be reasonable for the jobber to gain efficiency through their economies of scale and expertise that would usually allow them to be more cost effective in the overall assessment taking into account personnel and capital expenditures. Many companies have come to the conclusion that their resources are best used to focus on their product and leave the production turning to the specialist.

How about requirements for heat treating and plating, can I save money by handling those myself?

Fordsell has the expertise to handle most of these requirements.  If you really want to shave the nickels you can handle these processes yourself, but you do assume responsibility for potential problems. At times part dimensions will change after heat treat. And, plating build up does change dimensions. If you buy the part before plating, make sure you adjust your print to pre-plating dimensions. Most customers would rather not have these headaches.

Should I request a first article?

Most suppliers are eager to supply a first article when they run a new job and it is really to everyone’s advantage to assure you are getting what you need. This should be requested when the job is quoted. If a supplier has to wait for customer approval, before he can run production it is costing him money. 

I want to use a supplier whose parts can be certified for use without going through receiving inspection, can Fordsell provide that service?

Fordsell is already doing this for several customers who have chosen to reduce their own costs, simplify the ordering process and streamline the handling in your plant.


For further support in this area, we can supply a free four-page, laminated buyer’s resource guide. 

Note: Fordsell Machine extends its appreciation to Cox Manufacturing for the content on this page.

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