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OEM Purchasing Managers Know: In CNC Parts Manufacturing, a Partner Relationship is Key

07/27/2022 | Scott Waak

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OEM Purchasing Managers call the shots.

Rarely are those shots based solely on price, even though the responsibilities of a Purchasing Manager surely include exploring cost savings. The services provided by suppliers — including CNC parts manufacturing — are judged by their overall value.

Think about it: A low price is quickly forgotten if part quality is poor or if the delivery is botched. And nearly instantly, confidence is shot, trust is lost, and the future is uncertain … a place no one wants to be.

Let’s explore the real value of a trusted relationship when it comes to CNC parts manufacturing, and uncover what customers really need from a CNC machine shop to be successful.

Ask The Right Questions

It’s natural and expected within any industry: Company ABC lures a Purchasing Manager with promises of high quality and top-end customer service, always accentuated by a tempting price point.

But, what about engineering support, real dedication, “out of the box” thinking, etc.? How can you truly and confidently evaluate a potential supplier relationship?

In a previous article, we covered the 6 Questions to Find a Great CNC Machining Partner. This quick read is a great place to start plus, later in this article, I’ll offer additional questions to ask.

Buyers and Commodity Managers May Not Know CNC Machining

Because of experience, or even working their way up from Buyer or Commodity Manager, a Purchasing Manager more quickly “gets it” when it comes to manufacturing and machined parts supply chain.

Yet, those Buyers and Commodity Managers are the ones having daily contact with manufacturing suppliers, even though they may not have loads of experience or depth of CNC machining knowledge.

That’s why CNC machine shops need to be willing to spend extra time explaining processes or walking through the details, even taking an educational approach to certain projects.

These relationship-building projects — everything from a fast-turn project without much bottom-line benefit to rescuing a part being mishandled by a supplier — may lead to more complex and rewarding jobs down the road (and more trust built in the relationship).

Do You Need a Parts Manufacturer or a True Supply Chain Partner?

Not all Purchasing Managers are the same, and some do put price atop their “most vital” lists. Remember Company ABC and its tempting sales pitch? Well, many will no doubt be convinced to try them on their price point alone.

Experienced Purchasers, however, understand long-term goals, and value and prioritize  relationships that they can trust.

The quality they demand, the support they need, and the smooth processes they’ve experienced all outweigh price and help them sleep well at night. They know this value often outweighs risks of chasing the lowest cost.

Of course, discussions revolving around price happen in every relationship. That’s just business. Yet, when the emphasis is clearly put on the overall value of a true partnership, that’s when the difference between a “CNC machine shop” and a “true supply chain partner” is clear.

The view is similar from the manufacturing supplier side. Some will take whatever projects are available, while others search out true partnerships, growing as their customers grow. It’s all about finding the right fit.

Relationships Require Real Effort and Time

Trust isn’t given, it’s earned. And, the kind of CNC machine shop supplier relationship that Purchasing Managers want takes time. An initial project success (or even two or three successes) goes a long way in establishing trust, but even that may not be enough.

The process of building trust with a machine shop could take years. Acceleration of that trust may happen with particularly challenging projects but, in general, patience is required on both sides.

The goal is always to reach a comfort level where a supplier is leaned on — not just for quality products but also for insights, ideas, and strategy. Plus, projects flow from one to another without time-sucking check-in meetings, extra documentation, and repeated quality evaluations. That’s efficiency (and trust) at its finest. 

Want to know which CNC machining supplier you can trust? The answers to these questions will give you a gauge:

An example of that final point — at Stecker Machine — is us offering our world-class engineering expertise, not a common benefit of most CNC machine shops. Proper use of both value engineering and value analysis drives cost reductions and improves functionality.

Another clear sign that a shop is organized is their use of cross-functional teams. For example, consider a supplier with robust Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP), as  employees of different disciplines and skills collaborate. Getting engineering, sales, quality control, etc. together in the same room for a tech review of fixture design and manufacturing processes, for example, may seem like “going the extra mile” in time and effort, yet Stecker sees that as critical to the ultimate success of manufacturing a complex part.

Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Commodity Managers all want the same thing from a CNC manufacturer: real value, part after part after part. That’s only possible with the right partner relationship in place. 

Speaking of building vendor partnerships, how do you know what projects can benefit the most from the expertise of a high-end CNC machine shop? Our guide provides scenarios and solutions, each hitting on a different challenge you may be facing.

Ready to contact Stecker now? Call 920-726-4526.

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Scott Waak

About the Author

Scott pushes Stecker Machine forward. He brings a hands-on approach to a dual role of Sales Account and Customer Service Manager. Scott has over 25 years of experience in the CNC machining industry, starting as a Machinist, and advancing to his current roles. He credits his success to hard work, dedication to manufacturing, and a drive for excellence.

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