Microwave Journal
www.microwavejournal.com/articles/31516-fully-integrated-laser-job-shop-can-become-vital-link-in-supply-chain

Fully Integrated Laser Job Shop Can Become Vital Link in Supply Chain

December 3, 2018

When does an outsource laser service provider become more than just a “job shop”? When they can promise and deliver on getting you to market faster, with quality repeatable products and help you lower your total build cost.

To remain competitive and satisfy your customers' demands for ever-faster delivery, manufacturing companies like yours face a seemingly impossible contradiction. On the one hand, in order to scale production and exploit best-of-breed competencies, you are probably looking to outsource production efficiently to certain specialty job shops. On the other hand, there is the layers of paperwork, lack of accountability and shipping delays that can often accompany extended and complex supply chains across many partners. This is when the solution just may be the turnkey job shop—one that offers a complete stock to drop solution rather than simply pieces of it.

5 Reasons Why a Turnkey Laser Processing Center Makes Sense:

When manufacturers work with a turnkey provider of laser cutting and welding services, that also offers stocking distribution and mechanical assembly services, they can leverage this expertise to achieve five key objectives.

Faster delivery -  The main reason companies turn to a one-stop laser provider is simple—speed. The logic is straightforward that fewer stages in the supply chain translate to fewer times parts must be packed up, shipped, received, unpacked and inventoried. Parts may also spend less time in transit between the various stages. Then there are the administrative delays of processing purchase orders, bills of materials and other documents that must all be completed and tracked at each stage.

Fewer purchasing headaches - In addition to the sheer time involved, many purchasing agents would just rather not have to deal with multiple suppliers and the administrative overhead involved, including initiating and tracking separate purchase orders.

Greater accountability - As more and more suppliers and shipping companies are added to the supply chain, the easier it becomes to pass off blame to someone else when something goes wrong. If you are only dealing with a single supplier, finger pointing goes away and problems are resolved sooner and usually at less cost to the customer.

Higher quality - When you are working with multiple suppliers there is greater variability in the process, which means more mistakes. Different companies have different quality assurance programs in place and there is a lack of end-to-end visibility over everything. In addition, just having more hands touch the parts makes mistakes more likely.

Lower total cost - 1. When you add up the previous four factors—faster time-to-market, fewer purchasing headaches, greater accountability and higher quality—the result should be lower total cost. You're spending less for shipping; there is less administrative overhead; there are fewer mistakes; and when mistakes do occur, they are resolved more quickly and with clearer accountability, and an opportunity for continuous improvement.

What To Look for In a Turnkey Provider

While you will certainly want to review and vet a turnkey laser services provider by how complete their list of services and equipment is, there is more they should be able to prove. Can they demonstrate a proven ability to handle turnkey projects end-to-end? And have they done it for customers like you who have to adhere to a high standard of quality and repeatability? What is their quality system like?

Handling end-to-end turnkey projects requires several special skills, including the job shop's ability to qualify, recruit and work with its own network of subcontractors. Another capability would be an overall quality assurance program that provides end-to-end visibility and control. Still, a third would be lot control history and traceability—which are critically important in industries like medical devices and aerospace.

Of course, that is not to say that the list of “on the factory floor” laser capabilities should not also be comprehensive. Here is our list. Consider it as you are vetting other outsources:

  • Anodizing
  • Annealing
  • Bead Blasting
  • Bending
  • Camber & Surface Finish Verification
  • Cleaning
  • Clean Firing
  • Cutting
  • Diamond Dicing
  • Edge Grinding
  • Etching
  • Grinding
  • Inventorying (Custom stocking plans)
  • Lapping
  • Machining
  • Marking
  • Mechanical Assembly
  • Packaging
  • Polishing
  • Singulating
  • Rotary Engraving
  • Welding

If the idea of working with a turnkey laser job shop is new to you and you are looking for a good way to start, the best approach is to do a test project. We offer an open door policy. So come in, get your hands dirty with our team while prototyping your parts and gain peace of mind thinking about how many suppliers you can remove from the chain. When you consider that we can pull raw material from stock, process it, finish it, assemble it, inspect it and ship it to you, you will be free to focus on more essential tasks.