When our sales department receives an order for the production of a complex assembly, the Metal’s machine is set in motion to meet the demands and timelines agreed with our customers.
How does this process work, which parties are actively involved and what are the benefits for those who turn to us?
From the raw materials purchase – in particular stainless steel – to order and delivery management, those who decide to use Metal’s services can interface with a single partner that verticalizes complex and specialized supply chains.
In this article we will explain in detail how we procure raw materials, how we classify them before production and what technologies are involved in the entire process, allowing us to achieve the complex assemblies designed for and with our customers, on time.
Material procurement: stainless steel
In a previous article, we saw how we work at Metal’s and how our production process develops. In this in-depth look, we will focus on the material procurement phase, which – in our case – corresponds mainly to the purchase of stainless steel.
The main types of stainless steel we use are:
- AISI 304: the percentage of chrome (between 18 and 20%) and nickel (between 8 and 11%) makes it a valuable material, highly resistant to corrosion, but also easy to machine. Recommended for products for food preservation and the chemical industry.
- AISI 430: ferritic type, this stainless steel is resistant to high temperatures. It can be used in the food industry.
- AISI 316: a standard stainless steel composed of a variable percentage of chromium (between 16% and 18%), nickel (between 11% and 14%) and molybdenum (between 2% and 3%). With its high corrosion resistance, it can be used in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries.
The material is purchased from the most important European steel mills that can supply flattened sheets already cut to a specific, standard or customised format. Of course, we can also obtain other types of stainless steel according to our customers’ needs.
Precise orders and careful checks upon receipt of the goods
Once we have determined with the customer the most suitable type of stainless steel for a complex assembly in an advanced state of assembly, we enter the order into our management system and send it to the supplier.
The order is complete with drawings, all specifications and accompanied by a technical supply specification, i.e. a detailed document in which we specify to our supplier the requirements of the material, both technical (such as dimensions and thickness) and aesthetic (such as finish, roughness). In this document we also indicate the choice of packaging. This is a crucial detail because all our plants are equipped with automatic loading systems and an incorrect assessment can slow down production.
Upon receipt of the material, warehouse staff check the suitability and accompanying documentation, verifying the accuracy of the information given and consistency with the product ordered.
It should be noted that a 3.1 certificate (as required by EN 10204) identifying the casting origin of the material is always attached to each delivery. This document contains all the chemical characteristics of the stainless steel and is essential for the verification phase and its processing.
If everything complies, the material is labelled and placed in the warehouse, ready to be used.
The importance of labelling
The labelling of the raw material is crucial because the unique code identifies both the supplier’s lot and our finished product. This makes it possible to trace the material at all times, even after the complex assembly has been delivered to our customers.
This is an added value for those who rely on Metal’s because, in the event of non-conformity reports or requests for specifications such as the traceability of products destined for the medical sector, for example, we can trace the raw material that was used in the production of each item at any time.
With the advanced management system, every flow is always under control
At Metal’s we use the best technology for order and production flow management. We have already anticipated that the order sending to suppliers is done through a management system. This allows us to speed up the automatic procurement of material and share important documents such as drawings, checklists, and specifications.
In fact, our ERP management system is connected to all areas of Metal’s, from administration to warehousing, and in real time can return an exact snapshot of stocks and material usage for each specific project. Thanks to an advanced functionality (i.e. the MRP algorithm), the management system analyses the requirements of sales orders and generates purchase or production requests.
Depending on the type of article and the agreements with the customer, the articles are automatically ordered by the system so as not to slow down production and anticipate hypothetical shortages of raw materials. Obviously, all articles are managed with different procurement policies and stocks, production batches and lead times are entered manually to guarantee agreed deliveries.
In addition, to ensure quick responses to market demands, at Metal’s we use the inventory management system known as consignment stock. This means that within our warehouses, in agreement with our suppliers, we keep a certain quantity of stainless steel that we will only use when needed. The advantage? Always having a stock of raw material, for a smooth workflow.
An integrated and shared system
At Metal’s we have chosen ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software that respects the Industry 4.0 production paradigm and is always interconnected with our state-of-the-art machinery.
The ERP is natively integrated with all MES (for production management) WMS (for logistics) and TQM (dedicated to quality control). In this way, information is usable and easy to monitor in real time and at all company levels.
- MES (Manufacturing Execution System) returns the progress of production orders, records timings in real time and shares all the required documentation.
- WMS (Warehouse Management System) enables timely management of materials by determining the location of items within the company and inventories.
- TQM (Total Quality Management) analyses any process drifts in real time and ensures that pre-set PPMs are achieved.
What happens when the order includes materials other than stainless steel?
For some customers we produce complex assemblies involving the assembly of steel with other materials. For the procurement of the materials, we can follow two solutions:
- rely on our Italian and international suppliers;
- contacting trusted partners suggested by our customers.
In the first case, we can request a quotation and obtain the necessary components at a favourable price and/or with better delivery conditions. If these conditions satisfy our customers, then we can proceed with the order.
Of course – at the customer’s request – we can intervene at any time. For example, during the production phase to optimise costs without sacrificing product quality or, in an emergency, when a component has to be replaced or is no longer commercially available.
In a fast-moving and ever-changing market, being able to count on a single point of contact for supply – technically prepared and able to adapt to ever-changing requirements – is a crucial competitive advantage.
Outsourcing management is also digital
Finally, we have activated a SCC portal to manage the outsourced supply chain in an integrated manner for activities involving the support of external suppliers. In this way, orders generated by the management system are conveyed to the portal, which is always within reach of the supplier.
A tool easy to manage and consult, in which:
- orders are recorded (including drawings and all relevant information);
- you can find out the production progress;
- it is possible to generate the labels required for the delivery and identification of goods.
In this way, communication is reduced to a minimum, avoiding dispersion of information and optimising production schedules.
Would you like to know more?
The manufacture of complex stainless steel assemblies involves the purchase of raw materials as well as their processing. Find out how we manage the entire process without delays and what advantages you can gain by choosing Metal’s as your single point of contact.