When searching for a rapid prototype supplier, there are several factors to consider. Among the most critical is the quality certification of the prototype supplier. International certifications, such as ISO 9001 are commonplace considerations for selecting production suppliers, but also are important but occasionally under evaluated considerations for your prototype supplier. For companies that achieve this certification, there is an operational consistency and process orientation in the work that can provide great customer benefit. In other words, their internal processes are such that you can likely have greater confidence that the rapid prototyping services you received will meet if not exceed your expectations because of the company’s operating culture.
Specifically, design and prototype companies with ISO certification have reached a business improvement standard that makes them highly competitive but most importantly, ensures the quality of their finished products. At it’s core, this certification helps suppliers put their processes in line with the best industry standards, continually monitoring and refining operations at virtually every level.
As a designer or engineer, the need for a prototype that accurately reflects your design intent and product performance is paramount in the prototyping process. Almost all experienced designers can share a story of making due with an insufficient prototype and trying to judge “is the problem in the design, or in the quality of the prototype part”. A quality prototype removes that variable. You have better assurance that the product you are testing or evaluating represents the design in mind allowing more rational decision-making in the product development steps.
Likewise, quality certified organizations track numerous business performance measurements beyond just part quality, such as “on-time shipments” and other metrics. Although scheduling in the prototype world is always challenging due to the first time build aspect of many projects, certified companies tend to be more disciplined in their internal tracking, scheduling, and communications due to the accountability required based on the performance measurements. Likewise, certified companies are required to have an internal review process to correct issues as identified. This leads to continual improvement, and with good management, to better and better performance to the benefit of you as the customer.
Likewise the supplier of prototyping services enjoys these same benefits as they become more effective and efficient through their process oriented business approach. They become more responsible across all business platforms, create a more efficient management system, and discover areas of operation that need improvement through ongoing assessment. Additionally, ISO 9001 certification allows suppliers to bid on a broader range of jobs, and done effectively, can reduce scrap and other costs. The key for the supplier is a proper implementation that captures the system fully and is embraced by the company at all its levels.
The Bottom Line
ISO certification is a valuable endeavor both for the supplier, and as an evaluation tool for the customer. It does not replace customer service, flexibility and responsiveness, as those items are critical in the prototype arena. However when the above characteristics are coupled with great quality management system, look out! The rigorous process that suppliers go through to achieve certification makes the organization better for it. For example, the discipline of using uniform procedures for consistency in prototyping processes and the comfort of knowing you are working with trained and capable providers should provide reassurance to engineering customers with ever increasing demands. ISO certified suppliers also conduct internal and external tests for improving systems and get subjected to audits. As a result, an official who performs audits checks records, talks to employees, and follows up on mandated standards to make sure suppliers are compliant.
Hiring the Best Supplier
At Vowin, we are ISO certified, which guarantees innovative and quality services along with competitive prices. You can get information about our company and the services provided by visiting our website or calling to speak with a company representative.