Companies, suppliers, and manufacturers involved in the military and defense industries are well aware of the highly specialized nature of these products. Every part, component, or piece of equipment manufactured to serve the military and defense industry must adhere to a strict standards, commonly known as Mil-Spec.
Mil-Spec, short for “military specifications,” is used to describe a product’s physical and/or functional characteristics. Typically, these specifications go hand-in-hand with Mil-Std, which stands for “military standards” and describes what materials and processes can be used to fabricate a product. These guidelines can also be extended to the manufacturing and testing of a piece of equipment.
When choosing a supplier for your next project for the military industry, there are a number of criteria you need to check off. Here are three criteria your supplier should meet.
First and foremost, you need to ensure that your Mil-Spec is familiar with the project. This set of standards can be broad and diverse, so one of the best ways to expect a high quality final product is to work with a supplier with previous experience.
Almost all military contracts come with non-disclosure agreements. This means that if a supplier has done prior Mil-Spec work, they won’t be able to reveal too much about it. They should, however, be able to tell you whether or not they have done Mil-Spec projects before.
In order to get the best answers from a supplier, ask specific questions. The right manufacturer will be able to give you a straight answer, especially regarding the specifications and requirements of your project.
Mil-Spec guidelines, especially coupled with Mil-Std requirements, dictate not only the outcome of the final product, but the environment in which it is produced. Almost every step of the required production process is outlined in great detail. This means that your supplier needs to be exceptionally detail-oriented. This includes maintaining a facility and environment that perfectly adheres to every production specification.
Mil-Spec projects require a supplier that not only has the technical capabilities to manufacture your product, but also the ability to do the copious amounts of research that goes along with it. Mil-Spec and Mil-Std documents are comprehensive, extremely detailed, and most importantly, exhaustive.
This means that your supplier should also have staff prepared for reading through many volumes of Mil-Spec, Mil-Std, and Military Handbooks, among many others. The success of your final product depends on your supplier’s familiarity with these documents.
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Becoming a military supplier, especially in the U.S., is not easy. Suppliers must meet a complex set of exacting demands, referred to as Mil-Spec. At Keats, we know how challenging it can be to choose the right military supplier for your needs. All of these challenges are addressed and covered in our new eBook, Choosing a Mil-Spec Supplier: Criteria, Questions & Pitfalls.
This eBook provides a starting point for Mil-Spec contractors when selecting a Mil-Spec supplier, and gives readers a framework to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of Mil-Spec suppliers.
At Keats Manufacturing Company, we believe that when assessing potential Mil-Spec suppliers, there are 10 critical questions the supplier must answer correctly:
Has the company manufactured for Mil-Spec before? Experience is a must in Mil-Spec work.
Which Mil-Specs can the company meet? There are over 30,000 different Mil-Spec standards, so simply saying you are a Mil-Spec manufacturer is not enough.
Does the company have the proper facilities and environment regulation? Thanks to painstaking levels of standardization, your supplier must be incredibly detailed-oriented.
Do they track their supply chain? The Mil-Spec rules for procurement are vast and complex so you need a high level of tracking.
Is the company prepared for the reading and research involved in Mil-Spec documents? There is no room for skimming in the Mil-Spec world. You need to do the work.
Will they automatically provide you with the proper Mil-Spec documentation? Having to request documents after delivery causes delays across the board.
Does the company have the volume capabilities- at both ends of the range? Your supplier needs to be able to handle orders as big as 50,000,000 pieces or as small as one.
Do they have the right tolerance capabilities? Military equipment demands nothing less than the highest precision and the tightest tolerances.
Does your manufacturer exceed, or merely meet, Mil-Spec standards? Just good enough won’t cut it, you need best.
What technology and processes is the company using? If they are using out of date equipment, odds are good you are getting out of date products.
If a Mil-Spec supplier cannot give you an acceptable answer to these questions, then you need to continue looking.