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3 Tips for Dual or Triple Sourcing Custom Sheet Metal Fabrication Jobs

Trends in business ebb and flow. One thing that remains constant: Nobody wants to let revenue go down the drain because they have to tell a customer or prospect that they are out of stock or can’t deliver.

As we talk to industry professionals who typically outsource custom sheet metal fabrication projects (or who are considering outsourcing to supplement in-house production) we can certainly see things are shifting quickly to alleviate out-of-stock situations.

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Metalforming Trends: Managing Capacity and Supply Chain Disruptions

In recent years, companies involved in outsourcing sheet metal fabrication utilizing steel, stainless steel, perforated stainless steel or aluminum, were looking at vendor consolidation. Organizations seeking more leverage with current vendors looked to streamline the number of suppliers. Working to become the “big-fish-in-a-little-ocean” made sense in the good old days. Now, many involved in purchasing sheet metal forming or finishing projects, are interested in developing alternative sources to mitigate the effects of material and labor shortages.

Offshoring, another trend over the last 25 or so years, is also showing signs of reversing. Since international shipping delays have caused serious problems for so many organizations, “onshoring” is the watchword today. What was often seen as a lower cost alternative is now costing companies in lost sales revenues – and potentially lost customers who may strike up relationships with new suppliers who can provide product.

The unique confluence of events causing labor and material shortages appear as if it will be with us for awhile. According to a Precision Metalforming Association article, metalformers face “continued uncertainties for raw materials and labor which may extend well into 2022.”

Finding and adding qualified suppliers now is a common refrain, but more importantly it looks like a wise move.

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Here, we offer some steps to reduce supply disruptions leading to lost revenues and constant nagging from your salesforce.

      1. Understand Your Suppliers’ Capacity Issues

Some sheet metal fabricators – including the one you are already using - may be utilizing their current equipment at capacity. That makes it difficult to respond to possible increases in production runs or their ability to take on new projects.


What you can do: Talk to your vendors to get a candid assessment of their current capacity in order to avoid surprises. Some capacity issues are temporary; others may be driven by more permanent changes.

Over the past six months, Mika has upgraded both its equipment and processes to become more efficient in all aspects of custom sheet metal fabrication. This has resulted in faster turnaround times and better quality. We also continue to provide full service, quality craftsmanship - from prototype to powder coating, from etching to forming and finishing. Our broad array of capabilities means no lost time for you. Sending out processes like powder coating to third party vendors can lengthen lead-times. We do more here, which saves you time and money.

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       2. Plan Ahead to Beat Labor Shortages

Even if your current vendor has plenty of equipment capacity, they may not have enough workers to run machines, assemble or pack products for delivery. Again, having an open line of communication with your vendors is the best way to manage what appears to be a nationwide problem.

Mika has a core group of individuals who have been with the organization 20+ years and we have been hiring aggressively since Spring 2021. With an experienced and expanding team, Mika’s new ownership has proven that productivity can continue, in spite of a pandemic. Cross training on the shop floor has allowed us to achieve back-up in every area of our business to avoid potential disruptions. Proactive communication with our customers has strengthened old relationships and forged new ones.

What you can do: To manage expectations, discuss project deadlines with suppliers - and be open to changes when you can. Mika’s engineering team can sometimes make suggestions to designs that may increase yields, save you money and lower lead-times. 

Also, review your current suppliers with an eye on their location. You might be able to save on shipping time and cost by using a regional vendor, and overcome a slowdown elsewhere in the production process.

Being centrally-located in the heart of Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing belt - and being just a few hours from Pennsylvania, Indiana, and West Virginia means many of our custom sheet metal parts are delivered within a day of leaving our shop.

Mika is proud of its experienced staff! Meet a Spot Welder, get to know a Press Brake Operator, or let us know if you’d like to join the team.

      3. Overcoming Overseas Supply Chain Backlogs and Shortages

If you are one of the many organizations pining for product that’s probably bobbing around at sea waiting to be allowed into a port, you may want to consider pulling some of your manufacturing back to the U.S.    

The process of adding additional vendors just might uncover resources you would not have discovered otherwise - maybe some right in your own backyard!  

What you can do: When you’re considering a dual source of supply or working with additional vendors, the Reshore Initiative is a great resource that can help you calculate your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Some companies are finding once they calculate in shipping and tariffs from overseas they may not be saving as much as they thought – if anything.

Ask domestic vendors about sample and prototyping policies so you can inspect parts for accuracy and consistency. Mika’s no-cost prototyping provides our customers more confidence and peace-of-mind when deciding to add an additional company to their supply chain.

Contact us to ask about no-cost prototyping services.

Mika Metal Fabricating Director Sales & Marketing, Rebecca Cole


         Interested in discussing your sourcing needs?

               Contact Rebecca Cole (440) 984-6060

         e-mail or click here.

Related Articles:

"Metal Supply Pricing Challenges May Be Here To Stay". We’re helping customers plan ahead and find creative solutions to manage costs. Read more

"Manufacturing In A Time Of Change": We share what we saw at FabTech. Read more

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