26 Mar 2021

8 Supplier Standards that Guarantee Quality Assurance

Quality assurance should always be number one on any buyer’s priority list, and for good reason. Failing to pay attention to this could mean that your fixture is delivered late, or worse, isn't fit for purpose at all. But how can quality assurance be guaranteed? 

Choosing a quality-assured supplier with an ISO quality accreditation will give you some comfort but will only get you so far. Look beyond it - if your supplier truly is quality focused then they should be offering more. We explore the 8 standards that will guarantee your fixture is quality assured. 

1. A dedicated expert as your point of contact

Don’t forget that your fixture is bespoke to you and your process. Your supplier must fully understand what you need from your fixture, and then make sure that requirement becomes a physical reality. So you really want an account manager as a dedicated point of contact.

Think of them as one of your team. You’ll have someone on the inside, driving the fixture through production and keeping you updated on its progress, who will advise you of any problems (and resolve them) and someone who, ultimately, will deliver to you the exact solution you were looking for.

2. Design concept review and sign off

The fixture concept you start with as an idea will likely evolve as the CAD design comes together. The review stage is crucial, and it’s important that your supplier embraces your input and feedback. By presenting you with a concept to review your supplier will be giving you the opportunity to really scrutinise their proposal and to request further adjustment.

If you want the baseplate reducing in size, or additional clamping points adding, then your supplier should be more than happy to accommodate. The aim is to end up with a CAD design that works.

Once complete, you can sign off the concept and wait for it to be turned into a physical reality. But not before the next critical step.

3. CAD Inspection

The initial concept has now become a customer-approved CAD model, but this shouldn’t be the end of the digital process. Remember, you’ve only approved the design and not the full functionality.

Can the part be loaded on to the fixture without impediment? Are the go/ no go gauges toleranced correctly? Thorough independent inspection of the CAD fixture, by someone other than the original CAD modeller, are what you need to help ensure the design will actually work in practice. If this is part of your supplier’s process, then you can be confident that, as long as they make what has been designed, your fixture will work perfectly right from the start.

4. In-process checks

The CAD design is complete, and manufacture of your fixture has started. You can assume that, once complete it will be fully inspected, but what about during production? On machine verification? CMM inspection of individual fixture parts?

If your supplier has in-process checks such as these in place, then there’s a better chance that all parts produced will be to spec and will assemble perfectly. Waiting until the very end to identify issues could mean that the date you thought you’d be receiving your fixture by soon becomes a distant memory, as you wait for your supplier to disassemble, remake, reinspect….

5. Inspection of the finished fixture

You should expect to receive a full CMM inspection report with each completed fixture. This should be a given – a document your supplier volunteers to you without request. It will show that, dimensionally, your fixture is to specification and that’s exactly what you want to see. But, as important as this stage is, it shouldn’t be the end of the quality assurance journey.

6. Customer buy off - internal

Your account manager has monitored your fixture, from initial concept through to working tool. And, at the very end of the process, when the fixture is finished and has passed CMM inspection, he should complete his responsibilities to you, the customer. He should fully review the functional performance of the fixture, just as you might. He should load parts, ask for any fine-tuning adjustments and so on, until he is satisfied that the fixture works exactly as it should.

This is the final manufacturing process – the internal buy off, and it’s a critical step. Only then is the fixture ready for presentation to you.

7. Customer buy off – external

Your supplier should welcome your visit to buy off your fixture. You can see the finished article yourself, prior to despatch, and establish for sure that it’s exactly what you want. Try your parts on it yourself and use it just as your operatives will. If there are any adjustments you’d like then that should be no problem at all. This final stage should be just dotting the Is and crossing the Ts. Finally, you give the all-important approval and buy off your fixture. The end.

Or is it? Your fixture is a bespoke tool, and bespoke tools may need further fine tuning once they’ve been put in to use. How good is your suppliers after sales service?

8. Aftersales

Simple or complicated, your fixture has been produced to your unique specification. Fine tuning post-supply is not an uncommon requirement. You want your chosen supplier to address any issues at all immediately, and effectively. Even before sourcing, you should make sure that your chosen supplier will fully support you with any post-supply snagging.


An ISO accreditation is good, but you really want a supplier who goes that extra mile - a partner who rewards your trust in them with a truly exceptional focus on the quality of your custom fixturing solution.

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. Speak to you soon!