PEKO Precision Products

5 Difficulties for CNC Machining and Assembly in the Defense Industry

Posted by Scott Baxter on Mar 11, 2015 3:43:58 PM

bigstock-Drone-55723601-cnc-machining-assembly-defensePrime Contractors like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and others are becoming more open the the idea of value-add suppliers that can do CNC Machining, Sheet Metal Fab, Welding and Assembly.  In many cases, they require certifications like the ISO 9001, AS9100 or even specific AWS weld standards.  They are benefiting from the ability to save money and time both in bidding and production.  By using these suppliers, the Prime OEMs can focus on the integration and testing of their product to ensure it is ready for government purchase.  ITAR registeration is also a critical feature in the Defense manufacturing industry.  At PEKO, we've been dealing with such customers for years and we've put together a quick list of some of the difficult things to contend with when manufacturing for the Prime Contractors.

Not only is it hard to get the work, but the quoting, specifications, manufacturing and acceptance all have their own difficulties.  A good CNC Machining and Assembly supplier like PEKO will have successfully dealt with all of these items and knows how to satisfy the customer correctly. 

1. Engineering deviations

Different suppliers have different manufacturing methods and capabilities.  In many instances, by making a deviation to the print, the part can be manufactured more efficiently.  This may mean cost effectiveness or delivery.  In a perfect world, the Engineering teams will work together to understand what kind of deviations are acceptable for the real world application.  When done successfully, time and money can be dramatically saved.  Unfortunately, some of the Prime Contractors are not able to quick approve these changes or change them at all.  With help from a good supplier, however, designs can be quickly redlined and sent in for approval, thus speeding up the process for the customer.

2. Supply Chain management

Even the most vertically integrated shops still have to outsource some operations to their own supply base.  Ideally, they want to use a local vendor to help save on shipping time and cost.  Also, they usually have a relationship with the vendor that helps the process.  If the vendor is not on the Prime's ASL (Approved Supplier List), this vendor either cannot be used or is subject to approval by the Prime.  It is important that the Supplier observe this fact when outsourcing to sub-suppliers. 

3. Outdated plating requirements

Finding a good plating house is not always an easy task.  Combine that with some older drawings and you might find yourself in a spot where you can't get the called out plating or coating.  It is extremely hard, for example, to find a cadmium plating supplier.  There's plenty of drawings with such a plating called out.  Good suppliers will have a strong database of sub-suppliers that can handle odd call outs that are rarely in use. 

4. Navigating through specs and requirements

In Defense applications, there are typically layers of specs and requirements that must be followed to ensure Quality of the part.  Having a team in place that is familiar with the specs and can apply them to the Manufacturing processes and inspection is paramount.  It is no easy task of course, but with the right team to do the research and application and a Quality team to ensure the requirements are fulfilled, a good CNC Machining and Assembly supplier will be successful. 

5. Flow-down compliance

Complying with flow downs is always a tricky task.  The Purchasing, Quality and Manufacturing teams must all by in sync to ensure that the flow downs are followed correctly to the sub tier vendors.  Great documentation practices must be in place.  Violating such flow downs can be a huge problem to the end user and could result in some very unfortunate consequences.


The Defense Industry certainly has very unique challenges for its suppliers.  Those folks in CNC Machining, Welding, Sheet Metal Fab and Assembly run into these challenges everyday.  It's important that these Prime Contractors choose suppliers that are capable of dealing with such a demanding Industry.  For more information on how we work with our Defense customers here at PEKO, email me at or click below for more information.

defense contract cnc machining assembly


Topics: CNC Machining, Contract Assembly, Defense