In this second Blog Post on selecting a fixture fabricator, I discuss the fabricator’s vertical integration, and project management capabilities. Fixture fabrication requires the marriage of many manufacturing disciplines such as:
This marriage is particularly important when sourcing today’s high value fixtures such as RMUs, kiosks, and directories which require adequate lighting, secure storage, and ease of maintenance for merchant success.
When interviewing a potential fabricator, one important question to ask is how much of the job will be performed under their roof and direct supervision. When a fabricator lacks the in-house capability to perform certain fabrication, or assembly steps, they must rely on a subcontractor. Subcontractors can be a perfectly adequate part of the supply chain, but they necessarily add an additional element of uncertainty to the job. These uncertainties can affect delivery, quality, or both.
In a perfect world, a high value fixture such as an RMU, or kiosk would be fabricated under one roof, and under the supervision of a dedicated project manager. That project manager should be familiar with the intended use of the fixtures; whether they will be used by temporary, or permanent merchants, delivery and installation logistics, and storage logistics for periods when the units aren’t in use. An effective project manager will review photos, site plans, and lease plans of the locations where the fixtures will be used. She will have a sense of the design style, color scheme, and lighting at the location. If the fixtures will be placed in an outdoor location, the project manager should have a very good sense of any environmental factors present that could affect longevity and reliability such as cosmetic degradation from UV light, salt spray (important in coastal locations), and humidity.
Once the fabricator is selected for a job, the fabricator should assign a dedicated project manager to it. The project manager should be in touch with the client’s purchasing team at all times. The fabricator should invite the purchasing team to perform in-process inspections (at their own expense). In addition, they should be provided with a schedule of milestones which guarantee timely completion. It doesn’t take a long conversation with the fabricator’s sales team to get a sense of the factory’s resources, workflow, and project management if you know the right questions to ask.
In the next post we will discuss the manufacturer’s warranty and how to assess its real value to capital equipment acquisition.