Partners Help Drive Heartland’s Quality and Production

Heartland Enterprises is an ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D certified contract manufacturer focused on CNC machining of larger diameter (2” to 42” turned and 2” to 30” milled) production parts. Our exceptional team is focused on meeting customer requirements to ensure we deliver high quality parts within an agreed upon timeline.

In order to accomplish our goals it’s critical that we rely on and leverage deep relationships with partners and customers. In addition to our internal processes and improvement efforts, its important to have outside stimulus with ideas and resources that continuously help us meet customer needs while challenging the status quo. A business is either moving forward or its moving backwards — there is no standing still. Without outside stimulus, it is very easy to become insular and get lulled into accepting the current state of affairs. You can become comfortable ignoring what you don’t know. To avoid these traps Heartland relies on a number of key partners to keep us ahead of the game in the following areas including;

Relationships and Knowledge;

  • San Antonio Manufacturers Association (SAMA) — SAMA and its members help Heartland be more aware of what is going on around us including seminars and leadership training that keep us up to date on various aspects of our business to ensure we are continuously raising the bar. Events including bus tours and socials allow us to create new and strengthen existing supplier relationships for mutual benefit that have helped improve our business.
  • Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) – As a local partner headquartered in San Antonio the SwRI provides ample training opportunities and critical consulting support.
  • Perry Johnson Registrars – As Heartland’s ISO9001:2015 and AS9100D registrar Perry Johnson not only provides certification of our quality management process they also provide invaluable feedback that ensures that we have a strong process in place and holds us to account to ensure we do what we say we will do.


By partnering with material vendors and subcontractors who are at the top of their fields not only can you rely on them to achieve desired outcomes there is also a lot to learn. By benchmarking areas of the business that overlap there are significant opportunities to grow and improve.

Equipment and Tooling Suppliers

Heartland’s long-term relationship with Okuma and Hartwig is a competitive advantage.   As our primary CNC machine tool provider we rely on Okuma to design, engineer and manufacture top of the line equipment that holds tight tolerances everyday over many years. Additionally our local distributor Hartwig is a partner for sales, training, and machine maintenance ensuring our Okuma equipment is maintained and optimized.


Customers are a critical sounding board for expectations in the marketplace. By listening and responding to customer requirements, expectations, and goals success will follow. The true partnerships we have with customer are invaluable to Heartland’s success. By incrementally improving based on customer input and feedback over many years we have continuously met customer needs while becoming a more accomplished supplier and long term partner.

Maximizing Machining Relationships – A Conversation with Troy Spies

large part CNC machining

Following up on a previous post, Maximizing Machining Relationships in Your Supply Chain we talked with Heartland Enterprises Plant Manager, Troy Spies to get a few thoughts on what to look for when selecting a quality CNC machining service provider.

Q:  What are the benefits of a good quality management system?

Troy:  It takes a good quality system to have continuous good parts.

Q:  Do the capabilities and quality of a CNC machining service partners machines matter?

Troy:  Good quality machines that are robust and repeatable with a good process you’ll have quality.

Q:  What should you look for when visiting a new shop?

Troy:  Cleanliness is the first thing that you see when they walk in the door.  They see bright lights and clean floors, clean machines, desk tops are clear, instruments are in the right place.  That sets the tone right off the bat for a quality shop.

Maximizing Machining Relationships in Your Future Supply Chain

heartland machining services

Five steps to lower cost and improve outcomes in the sourcing of machined parts

In the effort to reduce risk and mitigate costs associated with adding / changing suppliers of machined parts including; engineering, supply chain, or quality department time its important to have a strategy when implementing a new supplier. There are many aspects to the true “cost” of sourcing machined parts with some being easily measured while others can be hidden in rework, extra freight costs, late delivery, or the cost of lost business due to undetected poor quality.  If you are concerned with minimizing cost in your supply chain in addition to ensuring quality, on time delivery, competitive prices, and excellent customer service these five steps will help you accomplish this with your machining suppliers:

  1. Provide adequate information in your requests for quotes (RFQ’s)
  2. Select suppliers that have the capabilities to machine your parts
  3. Allow ample time for your first order
  4. Communicate openly and regularly
  5. Be open to suggested changes concerning non-critical requirements

Each of these steps is explained in more detail so that the task of developing a long-term partner is cost effective, repeatable, and productive.

#1. Provide adequate information in your request for quotes (RFQ’s)

Providing detailed information will allow for more accurate “cost” modeling resulting in more firm quotes. Providing annual volume expectations and detailed production information including detailed 2-D & 3-D drawings, supporting documents such as forging or casting drawings, as well as any relevant material or process specifications is valuable. When forgings or castings are involved, it is also very helpful to have a sample part available to enable the supplier to better understand the necessary fixturing or tooling that maybe required. You should also tell your supplier about any manufacturing processes that have previously been developed, especially if the part is complex.  Uncertainty creates risk, which will be priced into a quote. By eliminating as much uncertainty as possible, the supplier can produce a quote that is fair and accurate: which usually means less expensive.

#2. Select suppliers that have the capabilities to machine your parts

Be certain that selected machining suppliers have the capabilities to machine parts efficiently, uses a disciplined Quality Management System (QMS), and has a history of on-time delivery.  A supplier can provide a low quote, but if they do not have modern well maintained equipment or the QMS (i.e. ISO 9001, AS9100, etc..) to efficiently produce the part they will be forced later to increase the price, or to take short cuts which compromise quality and can lead to missed delivery dates. An escaping defect compromises quality and causes additional costs. The rule of 10 states that a $100 defective part which escapes a supplier, will cost you $1000, and if it escapes your quality control it will cost your customer $10,000.

 #3. Allow an ample amount of time for your first order

Do not rush the first order to a new supplier and provide the necessary support to ensure success. The first order with a new supplier is the opportunity to develop expectations. It is also the time to allow suppliers to work out the production process. A communications link should be opened between quality departments to review critical issues, including “critical to quality” (CTQ) dimensions. Ideally, a “first article” should be requested to ensure there is no misunderstanding regarding the part characteristics. Clear specifications regarding marking, packaging, and shipping should be reviewed if they are not in the purchase order.  Depending on a suppliers backlog the process for completing the first order could take 6-8 weeks.

#4. Communicate openly and regularly with your selected machining supplier

Develop a sound communication process with suppliers. Poor communications can lead to missed orders, quality problems, and a lack of supplier capacity when it is needed. The purchasing department should provide sufficient information to the supplier’s customer service department to ensure needs are met. This should include a copy of the latest revision of drawings for parts ordered and revision numbers should be identified in the purchase order. It should also include summaries of parts on order, and forecasts of future needs when available.

#5. Be open to suggested changes in non-critical requirements 

Expecting suppliers to meet rigid requirements when they are not required for the performance of the part will drive up machining costs and prices. Flexibility and openness to making changes to certain part specifications that won’t negatively impact quality can create opportunities for significant savings.  Often the best suggestions for quality improvements come from the people doing the work. Take advantage of the knowledge and experience your supplier’ machinists have acquired by giving their suggestions the appropriate consideration.

Overall, selecting quality oriented manufacturing partners with the right capabilities, standardized processes, and a robust quality management system will help ensure that there manufacturing processes yield a result that meets or exceeds your expectations. To achieve success don’t be shy about review as much of the of the supplier’s content including their website, quality manual, and responses from a supplier quality questionnaire. A reputable supplier will welcome your requests for information or even encourage a visit and plant tour.