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A Brief Guide to Informed, Intelligent Manufacturing Decisions

Questions To Ask To Before Choosing Your Next Manufacturing Partner

As the manufacturing industry rapidly segues to robotic automation for more and more production processes, it’s hard to maintain what you really need in a partner to assure your projects move forward rapidly while staying aligned for quality and profitability goals. The following are some key considerations you should discuss with your team and potential partners before your next project hits the shop floor.


Automation is an art and a science. Like any other masterpiece you might see at the Louvre, no two automation designs are the same. Like art, the difference in the final product is the mind behind the matter.

The key differences in automation design are rooted in an engineering team’s ability to solve problems better than others can, and achieve greater efficiencies for all areas of output. To this end, it is important to ascertain the past projects of an automation design team and how they solved complex problems to achieve desired results. Critical to solving complex problems is the breadth and depth of intelligence applied to projects.

Following are key questions to ask potential partners:

  • What challenges have you overcome with automation design?

  • Who are the members of the design team assigned to projects related to my needs?

  • What specific outcomes have you achieved with your automation designs?

  • What is the average turnaround time for developing automation machines?

  • What third-party equipment is used for robotics, machine vision, remote access and so on?


With the same robotic and automation systems available to any manufacturing company, the key difference you are purchasing is the experience behind the machines. Asking about the project management team who will be assigned to your projects is one of the most important actions to take.

Some questions to ask include:

  • What is the experience of the project manager to be assigned to your project?

  • How long has the primary project manager that will be leading our team been working for your company?

  • Has your project management team been able to accelerate production timelines and if so, please describe outcomes?

  • What tools do you provide clients for remote access, vision monitoring, and other surveillance functions?


Key to any GTM plan’s success is the availability of parts when you need them. For many manufacturing and automation development firms, parts availability is dependent on their outside and often overseas suppliers which presents a high risk to getting any project completed on time and on budget.

Manufacturing firms with inhouse machine shops remove the risk associated with waiting for needed parts for your project. However, not all machine shops are equal. Ask the following questions to determine which companies offer the best assurance for your project goals:

  • Do you have on onsite/inhouse machine shop?

  • What are the capabilities of your machine shop for 3D printing, welding, designing, and producing parts?

  • How backed up is your machine shop, or how quickly can your shop turn around an imminent need for designing, producing, and testing needed parts?

  • What machinery do you have onsite?

  • Which certifications does the machine shop have from NADCAP and other governing bodies?

Getting the outcome you need quickly and accurately depends on many factors beyond a company’s experience or client list. You need to assure they have people proven to solve problems, design effective automation systems, and onsite resources to keep your project on schedule, on budget, and aligned with profitability goals.

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