At Wiley Metal, we’ve been at this sheet metal fabrication stuff for decades and decades. Through that time, we’ve seen the value of our engineers grow in our organization. It is difficult to even remotely pinpoint when the shift came but somewhere along the line, our engineers went from being a part of our “value-added” services to something more. They became problem solvers.

Tens of Thousands of SKUs

Many don’t understand that at Wiley Metal, we have tens of thousands of SKUs. These have come from a variety of companies in a variety of ways. Many companies simply sent us their plans and we’ve produced their parts. Our engineers have created others. Still others, our engineers modified or improved upon a part that was submitted to us. It is here things begin to get interesting.

To Improve or Not Improve?

It’s not exactly Shakespeare, but there was a point we started to look at every part or sheet metal fabrication order and began to ask ourselves “to improve or not improve”? Sure it was easier to “just” fulfill orders, but we realized that our metal fabrication engineering services became ultimately more crucial to our customers when we proactively looked at the parts we were asked to produce. When we had our engineers start making suggestions and discovering alternatives, they all of a sudden began solving more problems from clients. In some cases, clients had just accepted the limitations of parts. We began moving into a new era, where engineers became pro-active problem solvers and solution providers.

Types of Improvements

Some improvements are aesthetic in nature, but we are usually much more involved in bare bones improvements like making equipment lighter through better engineering. There was a time when heavier meant more substantial, but not today. When our engineers can deliver similar strengths with significant weight reductions, it means savings in raw materials and shipping. Those shipping savings continue down the logistics pipeline.

Our engineers look beyond extrusion and consider other options. They know exactly when press braking, stamping or roll forming may be better choices. Like we said earlier, they have become more proactive in saying “hey, I think there may be a better way.”

The interesting aspect of this is that some clients never considered there was a better way. You gotta give it to those “know-it-all’s” in engineering. They are solving problems even when others didn’t recognize there was a problem.

What happens though, when a client “sort-of knows” what they want, and “kind-of knows” how it should work, but other than that, is stopped dead in their tracks? This is an area our engineers really excel. Coming up next in our series on our engineering services, creating reality from a concept. As we like to say at Wiley Metal, “We can do that!”