Choosing a heat treater from the many choices available can sometimes be a confusing task. Listed below are some factors to consider.
The Potemkin Effect.
Like the infamous Russian village, some heat treaters are more illusion than reality. Visit the heat treat shop in person and see if the vendor has the equipment to perform the services he offers. Is the vendor actually doing the work or simply outsourcing it and adding a hefty surcharge? While most heat treaters outsource work on occasion, it should not be the primary mode of operation.
Certifications Are Important.
Many end-users require that heat treaters and other special process vendors are certified to ISO 9001 and other quality programs. Check to see what quality credentials the heat treater has. Ask if the heat treater has any quality assurance personnel. It is a good idea to conduct an audit to find out if temperature controllers, chart recorders, hardness testers, and other equipment are calibrated on a regular basis. Ask to see if furnace temperature surveys are available for review. If you are doing work for another company, make sure the heat treater is on that company's approved supplier list.
Who's On First?
Having the proper equipment is important, but having the right people is critical. Find out who is running the operation. What level of heat treating experience does company management have? Ask to see the biographies of key personnel. Having a metallurgist on staff is essential.
Here Today…But Gone Tomorrow?
Make sure the vendor you choose today will be around tomorrow to honor any warranties or guaranties. Ask how long the vendor has been in operation. Does the company have adequate financial backing to survive market downturns?
Don't Choose On Price Alone.
Pricing is obviously important when choosing a heat treat vendor, but it should not be the overriding factor. Consider the other factors outlined in this article. Bargain heat treating sometimes comes with a high cost.