Just roll forming isn’t very valuable to you. You can do just roll forming in-house. To be competitive, a manufacturer has to offer value throughout your supply chain, from beginning to end of the project.
A roll forming manufacturer has experience in optimizing designs, processes, and post-production operations for lowest costs and lead times. This is the primary advantage to outsourcing roll forming. You just have to know what to ask for.
Here’s how roll forming services can cut your costs and lead times:
OEM Roll Forming Services Done Right in 6 Steps
You can get more out of your roll forming services by:
- Working with your manufacturer to optimize your part design for the roll forming process
- Making sure your manufacturer has a proper understanding of the application
- Outlining custom packaging needs at the start
- Understanding your manufacturer's supply system procedures
- Making sure your manufacturer understands raw material management and market activity
- Taking advantage of vendor inventory management
1. Economic Profile Design Consultation
Great roll formed parts don’t happen by chance. Metal components must meet a number of requirements to be produced efficiently and affordable with the roll forming services.
If you’re concerned about manufacturing costs, your manufacturer can work with you right from the start to make sure you aren’t wasting money on a poorly optimized component. The video below is just one example of how a roll former can optimize your design:
The time to take advantage of collaborative engineering design is early in the decision process. In that way, the correct features can be discussed and key cost and/or quality characteristics may be accommodated in mating parts.
2. Understanding Mating Parts
Most OEM roll formed fabrications don’t stand alone in their applications. They must fit with other components or work correctly in a system of parts.
Your manufacturer will ask for this information to make sure bending and assembly (if applicable) go smoothly on the roll forming line. If mating parts already exist, samples should always be provided so tolerances can be considered from both the design drawing and the functional fit perspectives.
3. Custom Packaging
Custom roll formed parts and long components may require oddly shaped packaging. A custom roll form sheet metal fabricator will understand this, and should address this at the start. Custom packaging and odd shipping sizes can drive up your costs, so your manufacturer will consider this for your final quote.
Consider these factors:
- Will you be pulling the roll formed shapes from the top of the box or sliding them out the end?
- Is there a max weight that you prefer to maintain for packages traveling in your plant?
- Do your metal components need to be protected from corrosion during transport and storage?
- Can we design reusable packaging?
The answers could mean the difference between smooth sailing and a rocky road!
4. Supply System Procedures
The order fulfillment system is another opportunity to indirectly save time and money. Depending on how your system triggers a need for replenishment, your roll former should respond accordingly.
Some companies release individual purchase orders for every shipment. Some produce one blanket purchase order with releases based on min/max system triggers. MRP (material requirements planning) uses information from orders and bill of material to generate “forward looking” planned orders.
All of these systems (and several more not mentioned) should be backed up by your roll form supplier’s intimate understanding of your consumption. This will assure raw materials, roll forming production capacity, and transit options are all queued for proper execution.
5. Raw Material Management & Market Tracking
Roll forming services can include materials acquisition and management. Your manufacturer is familiar with the raw materials market, and will be watching long-term trends and predictions. They have the expertise to get your materials at an optimal price, based on market movement.
When properly managed, raw material decisions and transactions should be discussed regularly with actions taken jointly. Nobody like surprises!
6. Finished Goods Inventory Management for Immediate Shipment
Vendor managed inventory is a major benefit to your supply chain. If your roll former is practicing lean manufacturing, they can ensure you’re not wasting money on idle inventory or scrambling to meet unexpected demand. The onus is on them to keep just enough for your spikes and not over produce.
Make Roll Forming Services Work for You
Find OEM metal fabrication services that work for you, not the other way around.
Want to know more about any of the goodness you read above? Then check out the articles and free e-book below:
- 5 Tips to Design the Worst Roll Formed Part (Don't worry; it's tongue-in-cheek and you'll actually learn something.)
- Beyond Costs: The Value & Advantages of Roll Forming
- In-House vs. Outsourcing Roll Forming + Vendor Inventory Management
(Editor's note: This article was originally published in May 2017 and was recently updated.)
Tooling costs in manufacturing are already a sore spot for many purchasers, but some think roll forming tooling is cost-prohibitive altogether. Sadly, the up-front price tag blinds them to literal down-the-line savings.
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