When it comes to purchasing aircraft extrusions for military planes, you always want to do it right but you cannot afford to do it wrong. The safety of pilots and passengers and the very security of the nation depend on how well aerospace and defense companies fulfill their government contracts
Aerospace and defense companies need the right parts at the right time to produce planes on schedule and as promised. When working with an aerospace manufacturing company, contractors need parts that meet precise specifications and partners that perform exceptionally.
Standards, service, and supply are paramount when purchasing aircraft extrusions.
Though multi-purpose aluminum extrusions from the 6000 series can be used in some areas of a plane, when it comes to mission-critical materials like those used near engines or on wings, defense companies require aerospace-grade aircraft aluminum extrusions with higher standards like more resistance to heat. Special parts such as these require special certifications.
Leading defense companies will only work with suppliers with aerospace quality management system (AQMS) certification. AQMS standards include the requirements of ISO 9001 as well as aerospace industry requirements. Aerospace manufacturing companies can earn AS9100, AS9110, and AS9120 AQMS standards, each of which has different requirements.
For example, New Source Corporation is an ISO-9001, AS 9100, and EN/AS9120-certified business, which means that it has achieved the highest level of quality management certification by meeting the strictest quality standards and adhering to best practices in quality management. Manufacturers must document processes such as the methods they use to conduct quality audits and how they train personnel to earn AS9120 certification.
The certification process for AQMS standards is long and rigorous. Manufacturers must be certified by an ANSI National Accreditation Board and it can take years for companies to earn the certification that defense companies require for their suppliers.
“Quality certifications are difficult to obtain and there are rigorous requirements to uphold your certifications,” said Jamie Barron, Vice President of New Source Corporation. “If you don’t have the certifications, you won’t be approved to supply to the largest contractors.”
Defense companies expect suppliers of aircraft extrusions to provide exceptional service in addition to superior quality and competitive pricing. Contractors want value.
They prefer suppliers with managed processing capabilities like cutting, shearing, or materials testing, for example. “People want to call one supplier and get everything done for them,” Barron said. “If the supplier can’t do it in-house, they should be able to get it done through a subcontractor.”
New Source Corporation provides such value-added services as well as ways for contractors to reduce costs. “We focus on continuous improvement so that we can become more efficient and help companies keep their expenses down,” Barron said.
The best suppliers of aerospace metals work with manufacturers to identify opportunities like new alloys that would make their parts stronger. They would even be willing to create custom dyes and to change them as needed as the contractors’ requirements evolve.
“There are plenty of run-of-the-mill extruders who just churn out metal but we focus on innovation and flexibility,” Barron said. “Our customers want to work with someone who can deliver a turnkey solution, not just an off-the-shelf product.”
Contractors also want to work with a supplier who will hold onto parts until they are needed and ship them promptly. Quick turnaround is essential.
Many aerospace manufacturing companies limit their supply of aluminum extrusions. They only stock enough to fill orders as they are completed. This can cause defense companies to wait longer.
But New Source Corporation keeps as much stock as possible so that it can ship parts quickly. “If you don’t have the material on the floor, you can’t react to a change in a customer’s needs. But if you do have the stock on hand, you can respond with a moment’s notice,” Barron said.
New Source Corporation also works with contractors to provide just-in-time shipping through vendor-managed inventory. It often ships supplies on the same day that they are ordered.
Such a quick turnaround is particularly important for companies that require parts for maintenance, repair, or overhaul. The faster an order is filled, the sooner a grounded airplane can fly again.
New Source Corporation’s extensive inventory of aerospace extrusions includes thousands of extrusions of common types like Boeing (BAC), Lockheed Martin (LS, K), Grumman Aerospace (GS, S-), and Army Navy Drawing (AND).
“A lot of distributors won’t carry so many different types of extrusions but we like to carry as broad a range as possible,” Barron said. “We want to be your one-stop shop for every extrusion type out there.”
Defense companies need high-quality parts and they need them fast. Focusing on standards, service, and supply ensures that they find the right aerospace manufacturing company when purchasing aircraft extrusions.