21 Aug 2021

How To Choose Your Next Tooling Supplier

You’re on the lookout for a new tooling supplier. Perhaps you’ve liaised with a few different companies already. But without knowing the right questions to ask, many companies will seem very similar. So how do you discern which company will be best suited to your project?

It’s all about gathering the right information. That way, you can effectively compare quotes, quality standards, lead times – factors you want to have confidence that your supplier will deliver on.

So if you want to know how to best vet your next tooling supplier, keep reading.

1. Ask about their experience.

A no-brainer, really. Ask about your potential supplier’s experience. Read reviews. Request a reference. Ask them to show you examples of similar work they’ve done before. A proven track record is going to ease any doubts you might have.

2. Find out if they’re accredited.

ISO accreditations aren’t the be all end all, but they certainly help. Knowing that your supplier subscribes to ISO standards of quality assurance will offer you peace of mind.

Read more about extra measures of quality assurance in our blog: 8 Supplier Standards that Guarantee Quality Assurance

3. Ask about their lead times.

Price isn’t everything. You may find that the cheapest supplier cannot hit your project deadlines, and you need to be aware of that. So be clear about what your lead time requirements are. Setting those expectations from the start will eliminate suppliers that can’t deliver, and it’ll save you a headache.

4. Ask whether they’ve reduced the cost of a customer’s tooling before.

If you are budget-conscious, you’ll want to know what approach your potential supplier takes to cost reduction. Do they work on a consultative basis with customers to get them the best deal possible for their specification? Can they provide an example of a time they reduced costs for a customer?

5. Find out what inspection and verification processes the supplier uses.

Make sure you ask what inspection procedures your supplier uses during manufacture of the tooling – not just post-manufacture. For example, we inspect our tooling at every stage of production.

6. Don’t forget to ask about the aftersales procedures (they’re important)

Often, too many customers forget about one of the most important signs of a quality supplier- their aftersales procedures.

It’s easy to forget about, but making sure your supplier will support the entire buying process, including solving any unexpected tooling issues is a valuable way to assess their commitment to quality.

Some useful questions to ask about their aftersales procedures include:

  • What general aftersales procedures do you offer as part of your tooling supply service?

  • If corrective action is needed to the tooling, what response do you offer?

  • Can you repair tooling directly on our site?

7. Can I visit your facility?

Ask if you can visit your supplier’s facility. It’s a great way to assess their ability to meet your specific project requirements, as well as their quality standards and capabilities. If an in-person visit isn’t possible, then a video tour can be a helpful alternative.

8. Do you need any further information to generate an accurate quotation?

At this stage, if you’re happy with the answers your potential new tooling supplier has given you, you’ll issue them with a RFQ.

An accurate quote from your supplier will not only save you time and money, it will also minimise the risk of unexpected or additional costs and processes.

Including the right information at the RFQ stage is essential to receiving an accurate RFQ from your supplier. You can read more about the information we recommend in our blog 'How to produce the best RFQ for your checking fixture provider'- the useful tips are relevant across all types of tooling.

9. Do you have any suggestions to improve our tooling specification? How can we improve our tooling specification?

This is a great question to ask a potential supplier, as it gives them the opportunity to provide useful feedback on your tooling proposal (whether you ultimately choose to purchase from them or not!). They’ll be able to use their experience and expertise to suggest improvements or alternatives to your specification which will enhance the tooling.

Some suggestions from a supplier to improve the tooling specification could include:

  • Thinking about different grade tooling board for the tooling body. To find out more about tooling boards, read our blog 'Tooling boards: which one is best for your project?')

  • Removing the need for tooling baseplates or backplates. A polyurethane board body with lifting handles attached directly to it is often suitable for certain types of tooling

  • Changing specifications for bespoke items e.g. location dowels for lower cost, off-the-the shelf items. This will reduce the cost of the RFQ.

10. Can I send you another RFQ?

This is the ideal perfect question to ask a potential supplier, as it means you’ve made the right choice and found a supplier who meets your project requirements perfectly. Well done!

Final thoughts on finding a new tooling supplier

Assessing a potential new supplier can be tricky. Asking the right questions makes it much easier, giving you the best chance of find the right supplier for your next tooling project.

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