OEMs, even those with in-house machining capabilities, often need to offload specific metal parts to a precision machine shop.  This may be because the parts are complex or difficult, the volume of parts is small, the duration of the production run is short, or existing machines are already being used to produce other parts. However, despite the wide availability of machine shops, OEMs still can receive parts that are not finished precisely to specifications.  When this occurs, the ramifications range from lost time and cost incurred for re-working parts to burdensome documentation requirements when parts are off-spec, for industries such as automotive, aerospace, and defense.

“We've had issues with quality from machine shops before, no question about it,” explained Pete Freely, quality assurance manager for Medico Industries’ manufacturing division.  “In machining you can find vendors that will cut corners.  If a part is off by a half thousandths of an inch, they might say ‘Don't worry about it, Ship it,’ and you won’t know about it until later – if at all.”

Since 1967, Medico Industries has produced over 20 million metal parts for U.S. government defense programs and over 7.6 million commercial parts for automotive and oil and natural gas drilling manufacturers.

Despite having a full range of equipment for metalworking – from forging and heat treating to machining and finishing – Medico Industries still sends out parts when its machines are running at full capacity, the job is short term, or production volumes are sporadic and uncertain.

“There are times when it makes sense to say, ‘Let’s get someone else to do it,’ ” Freely said. 

When this is required, Freely said it is important to achieve a level of comfort that the company to which the work is outsourced will deliver parts of consistent quality every time.  This is critical because ultimately the OEM is responsible for any parts they ship – even those that have been outsourced. 

As a result, OEMs must be able to identify and partner with a machined-parts supplier that can deliver quality, consistently.  “We don't always go with the cheapest supplier,” said Freely.  “You can take that into consideration, but you go more for best value.” 

For many years, Medico has outsourced parts to Belrick Corp., a precision manufacturer of components and assemblies in Swoyersville, Pa.  This includes threaded metal parts, machined forgings, and several others machined from bar stock.

Belrick uses advanced horizontal and vertical machining centers to perform CNC turning and milling, robotic welding, fabrication, prototype, inspection, and assembly.  The company has extensive machining experience with bar stock, sheet, castings, forgings, plate, special shapes, and fabrications. 

“They are very competitive [in price] – which is obviously important – but their track record for meeting the schedule and the quality of their work in the years we've been dealing with them has been really good.  Any issues have been very, very minor.  They are very conscientious,” said Freely. 

This quality is reflected in the type of equipment and advanced coordinate measurement (CMM) systems it uses.  It is also reflected in the machine shop’s ability to handle more complex or difficult jobs, such as machining castings and forgings.  Freely added that when dealing with the automotive, aerospace or defense industries, addressing a problem with a part can involve much more than just replacing or reworking the items.