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When it comes to sourcing Swiss and precision parts for your designed components, you’re juggling multiple priorities. You need high quality, quick turnarounds and affordability. While most engineers understand that the highest quality is typically found in the United States, they also want to believe that offshore sourcing is the answer to their need for speed at a low price.

Unfortunately, the overseas promise of quick turnarounds at cheap prices comes at a cost. Why? Because overseas suppliers often lack two key performance indicators: customer service and quality. In this article, we’ll explore why working with domestic Swiss and precision parts manufacturers can often result in lower costs and faster turnarounds over working with overseas suppliers.

“The advantage of working with a domestic machine shop is really the communication and the customer service you receive,” said one contract design engineer. “Problems may arise, but the big difference is how domestic shops deal with the problems. I don’t see that same level of customer service when I go overseas for parts.”

Customer Service: A Direct Impact on Budgets and Timelines

Great customer service in the precision and Swiss machining industry is built on three pillars that have a direct impact on your bottom line:

1. Consultation: Knowledgeable engineers and machinists at proven precision and Swiss machine shops will provide consultation and collaboration at the beginning and throughout the duration of a project. This is important to your budget because upfront collaboration can often result in cost savings through identifying less expensive materials or machining processes. (For more information on how to reduce cost through collaboration, check out this article.)

2. Response Time: Because going to market with speed is often critical, response times must meet your demands. Your questions and concerns need to be addressed quickly, so working with a precision or Swiss machine shop on your same continent and in a similar time zone results in faster responses and therefore can reduce time to market.

3. Communication: One medical device product development engineer summed up the importance of communication best when he said, “A good precision manufacturing shop will be proactive in communicating any issues and delays. If a shop doesn’t communicate project delays or tell us if there’s an issue, then that’s a problem. We’d rather know about any issues upfront.”

Poor communication can wreak havoc on project timelines, which is why sourcing precision and Swiss parts with a proven domestic supplier is a sound investment.

Poor Quality: A Time-to-Market Torpedo

Quality is the promise behind great customer service. Without high-quality products delivered by expert machinists, customer service will fall flat every time. In the world of precision and Swiss machining, quality means meeting four key engineering requirements:

  1. Parts are in spec
  2. Parts meet tight tolerances
  3. Finished parts are properly cleaned
  4. Finished parts are well-packaged to avoid shipping damage

According to one project manager at a large medical device company, “If we get the product and it has machining burrs or rough spots that weren’t cleaned up, that’s a problem. And if you just throw the product in a plastic bag and it gets damaged during shipping, that doesn’t really work.”

Engineers often find that when sourcing parts offshore, quality suffers because oversight can be lacking, and issues may not be noticed or corrected quickly. This could result in a high volume of products being produced with flaws or defects – which will require re-work and potentially torpedo your time to market.

The Takeaway

When customer service and quality fall short, the result is a domino effect that directly impacts your bottom line. While the allure of a cheap quote with a quick turnaround time from an overseas supplier seems appealing, issues with customer service and quality mean the end result does not yield expected cost savings and is slower than using a domestic precision machine shop.

Micro-Matics knows that engineers need high quality parts, excellent customer service and quick turnarounds at a reasonable price, and that’s what we deliver. Contact us today for a quote, advice on machinability or a custom prototype.