PEKO Precision Products

Sheet Metal Fabrication for Contract Manufacturing: 3 things to know

Posted by Scott Baxter on Mar 5, 2015 3:14:18 PM

bigstock-Industrial-laser-20788574Most equipment these days utilizes Fabricated Sheet Metal components, along with others like CNC Machining, Structural Frames, Plastic Injection Molded, Wire Harnesses and COTS items.  With Sheet Metal still taking a notable role in the Manufacturing of things like Machinery, Equipment and Instrumentation, its important that OEMs get to know their contract manufacturing partner and how its capabilities can match well with the needs of the OEM.  Here at PEKO, we're constantly working with OEMs to ensure that the Sheet Metal Fabrication requested is consistent with the final requirements of the product and optimal manufacturing techniques.  In some of my previous articles, I've noted important points of interest regarding CNC Machining, Outsourcing Assemblies and Low Volume Contract Manufacturing.  Today, I've outlined some important points that any OEM using a Contract Manufacturer utilizing Sheet Metal Fabrication for their product should take into consideration. 


1. Does the Fabricator specialize in certain Quantities?

Sheet Metal Fabricators come in all shapes and sizes.  You may have seen what is basically a garage shop with a couple press brakes and a shear.  On the other hand, you may have visited 100,000 sq foot shops with automated sheet feeders, robotic loaders and even automated inventory management.  Each of these businesses suits a certain kind of customer and it is important that you align yourself with the CM that is right for you.  By understanding the estimated yearly quantities, one can distinguish the level of service and capacity he or she needs from the supplier.  Typically here at PEKO, we work with production lot sizes of 10 to 500 per batch.  For customers in this "low-mid" volume, we can use our equipment optimally to offer competitive pricing, complicated parts and acceptable lead times.  Another reason that lot size is important to consider is that the Supplier must be able to store both the raw materials and finished product.  Finished sheet metal products that are formed and even welded tend to take up a lot of room.  Ensure the CM has the room to handle, store and pack your product during the manufacturing process.

2. Are other capabilities available at this Manufacturer?

In the world of Contract Manufacturing, it doesn't usually make sense to be a one trick pony.  With pressure for additional Value Add coming from OEM customers, more and more manufacturers are trying to add complementary services to their lines.  For folks in the sheet metal fabrication business, this usually means becoming more than just cutting and forming.  Good manufacturers are adding in Powder Coat painting, Welding and even Assembly into their repertoire.  For even more complex items like frames and skins, additional CNC Machining is often necessary for tight tolerance holes to be added.  Make sure that your Sheet Metal fabricator has capabilities that can help lower landed cost by adding more value at the source. 

3. Does this Sheet Metal Manufacturer offer cost down suggestions?

The beautiful part of Sheet Metal companies is that they are usually filled with a unique and talented staff that have been doing this for a while.  As such, they can offer a particularly help insight to the processing of parts.  Good customer service in this industry is to be able to offer cost down ideas to the OEM engineer to help improve processing and cost.  Suggestions like opening up a tolerance, changing a radius, using a different material or adding a hem for stability are sure signs that the Fabricator is looking to be a good partner to its customer.  This provides a win-win situation and can spur a long and prosperous business relationship.


Sheet Metal Fabricators come in all shapes and sizes.  As an OEM that is going to outsource, it is critical to make sure the fit between the CM and yours is the right one.   By understanding the quantities involved, the capabilities offered and the cost down suggestions that are provided by the supplier, a strong and fruitful partnership can be formed.  To learn about how PEKO has formed these types of relationships with our customers and see what we can do for you, drop me an email at or click below to learn more.

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Topics: sheet metal fabrication