When choosing a new checking fixture supplier, it’s important to have confidence in their ability to manufacture your fixture on time, within budget and to the high standard you expect. We’ve put together some useful questions to ask your new supplier, helping you make an informed decision.
How experienced are you?
You’ll get no greater sense of assurance that your new supplier is right for you than from their past experience.
Ask them to show you examples of their previous work. And don’t be afraid to ask them for a reference from another one of their checking fixture customers.
Are you ISO accredited?
An ISO accreditation is an important quality assurance indicator of any potential checking fixture supplier. While it’s not the only measure of quality assurance, it does give you some initial comfort with regards to their ability to design, manufacture and maintain checking fixtures to your requirements.
Read more about extra measures of quality assurance in our blog: 8 Supplier Standards that Guarantee Quality Assurance
What lead times do you offer?
Being clear on your lead time requirements will help ensure that your supplier is a good fit for you. It’s also an important consideration when choosing between suppliers – whilst the cheapest supplier may seem the best option on cost, they may not realistically be able to hit your project deadlines.
Have you ever worked with a customer to reduce the cost of their checking fixture?
This is a great question. It demonstrates the supplier’s potential to proactively contribute to the best value checking fixture solution possible, by thinking laterally and creatively. This is exactly what you want!
What inspection/ verification processes do you use?
Make sure you ask what inspection procedures your supplier uses during manufacture of the checking fixture (not just post-manufacture). For example, are individual components inspected prior to assembly, or are they ‘made to fit’, in which case the fixture will not match your CAD data. This may not seem a problem at first, but it can lead to extra cost when you want to modify or replace parts- something you'll want to avoid.
What are your aftersales procedures?
Make sure you’re confident that your checking fixture supplier is willing (and able) to support you in ironing out any issues with your checking fixture that will only become apparent once it’s in use. Other useful aftersales questions to ask include:
- What corrective action response do you offer?
- Can you re-calibrate fixtures on our site?
Can I visit your facility?
Visiting your checking fixture supplier’s facility can be helpful to assess their ability to meet your project requirements. If an in-person visit isn’t possible, a video tour can be a useful alternative.
Do you need any further information to generate an accurate RFQ?
You’re happy with the answers you’ve received from your new checking fixture supplier so far, and now you’ve issued them with an RFQ.
Ask them if they need any more information. Obtaining an accurate quotation from your supplier will ultimately save you time and money, minimising the risk of additional, unexpected costs or processes.
You can read more about the information we recommend including in your checking fixture RFQ in our blog 'How to produce the best RFQ for your checking fixture provider'.
Do you have any suggestions to improve our checking fixture specification?
Asking this question gives your supplier the opportunity to feedback on your checking fixture proposal, drawing on their experience and knowledge to suggest improvements on or alternatives to your specification and so enhance the fixture (whether you ultimately buy it from them, or not!). Their suggestions could include:
- An alternative tooling board grade for the fixture body (Want to learn more about tooling boards? Read our blog 'Tooling boards: which one is best for your project?')
- Dispensing with a fixture baseplate: a tooling board body with lifting handles attached directly to it can be ideal for certain types of fixtures
- Substituting low-cost, off-the-shelf items for your initial bespoke specification for e.g. location dowels
Can I send you another RFQ?
The perfect final question. It means that you have made the right choice and have found a supplier that fits the bill perfectly. Well done!
It can be difficult to thoroughly assess a potential new checking fixture supplier. Asking the right questions is essential, and gives you the best chance of finding a new supplier that is the best fit for you.
If you’d like to discuss our approach with us, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know you'd like to talk by requesting a call back.
Learn more about how you can save both time and money procuring your next checking fixture with our free guide Buying Checking Fixtures Better.