Your business relies on outsourcing much of your machining services to precision engineering companies, but does it always run smoothly?

Do either of these ring a bell?

Have you ever come across a supplier who struggles with complex components because their machines are a little old? Or, maybe the CAD software is substandard and the programmers are awful.

Whatever, the result is the same…

Another late delivery!

It’s infuriating, we know. Late deliveries are a kick in the teeth. It’s a bit like being told your time isn’t valuable. You’re just not a priority…

And, obviously, delays can have knock on effects. There’s always the possibility of penalties if you don’t meet YOUR deadline. And that really is unacceptable.

And then, there’s the age old problem. You get your delivery on time but… the finish quality is inconsistent and some parts need reworking, which means delays and additional cost.

So what to do when this frustration becomes too much?

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You need a plan B

It should be straightforward to find a replacement engineering company. Everyone has a website these days.

The information you need should be front and centre.

You can usually find the capacity list and the phone number is there but, when every precision engineering website is saying the same thing… what makes a great supplier stand out from the mediocre?

How do you sort the engineering wheat from the chaff?

A case study is a quick way to glean an understanding of the inner workings of a particular company.

Here’s one we prepared earlier… A good case study, which gives you an insight into how an experienced, long established precision engineering company in Essex overcomes issues to get the job done and right first time. It’s heroic! Yet par for the course, in one tight bundle.

Engineering Q.E.D. – the definition of a great supplier!

A great engineering supplier will have all three elements of Q.E.D.

Your parts will be finished to the quality required and they will have the experience and expertise to successfully complete even the most complicated projects. And, of course, all of this will be accomplished and delivered within the agreed timeframe.

Great. You’ve found the criteria for your plan B in three little letters Q.E.D. Lining up these ducks in a row means the company is GOOD!

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What happens if Plan B is actually Plan A!

Of course, for some people the great supplier will be the first supplier. So the whole RFQ experience is new and there’s probably a few questions.

What format do I need to send those drawings in?

Do you accept rough drafts? Ahem…

Exceptional service is how much!!

In all walks of life an exceptional service costs a little more. Because there’s always some kind of added value.

A professional tiler will put a huge amount of effort into the preparation – ensuring a flat surface so the tiles can sit correctly. He’ll use the correct adhesive so big, heavy tiles don’t fall off the wall. While it costs more upfront, the work will last for years.


The bloke from the pub will do none of the upfront work. It’ll be a cheap job that won’t last more than a few months. You’ll live to regret your choice… and, worse, you’ll have to pay again to get the job done properly.

It’s similar when you’re working your way through quotations from precision engineering companies. If you base your decision on price alone, the project is unlikely to be as good as you need nor will it be completed as fast as you’d like. There’s a simple explanation, a cheap price means cut corners!

Perhaps the engineer is inexperienced and struggles with complex components or can only use his 5 axis machine with a 3 axis mindset. Or maybe the machines are unsuited to the work. Whatever it is, when you want it yesterday, the cheapest option is not the best choice because cheap and fast is not good!

Remember – an exceptional service from a great supplier simply will not be the cheapest. But it will be the best value!

Can the boss see the value in the great supplier?

And there’s the question. Will your boss see the value in “added value”?

If your original mediocre supplier charges £3 a part but the new superior company, who you’ve spent ages sourcing, quote £5, there’s a decision to be made. If all your boss sees is the numbers, the sorry cycle of substandard parts and reworking will continue.

You’ll be stuck with Mediocre Engineering Ltd.

You can expect:

  • late deliveries
  • parts with an inconsistent finish
  • delays
  • and logistical upheaval

And all of that mixed up with a big old dollop of stress as you struggle to sort it out.

Oh, you might incur penalties too. Don’t forget that…

To break the cycle you need to do something else and your boss needs to buy in. Those hidden costs won’t go away by themselves!