Many companies are confident in the design and market potential for their products but would prefer not to manufacture it themselves. Instead, they want the guidance of an experienced partner and so focus their efforts on selecting the right one.
The manufacturing partner a company chooses will significantly influence the success of their product and greatly affect the long-term health of their business, especially if they opt for a partner who acts as one-stop shop.
If there’s one reason for finding someone else to do manufacturing it is that it requires a lot of investment to do it in-house. It doesn’t make sense to invest in the equipment and retain the necessary expertise on staff unless you have enough volume to keep them working full time.
Due to the rising demand for electronic devices and components, today’s environment has led to an uptick in manufacturing companies that offer a broad array of services across the product lifecycle, including design services for sub-assemblies and complete products, as well the necessary testing at all points of the product development and manufacturing chain.
Manufacturing companies on the leading edge are embracing technologies to offer cost-effective services as well as partnering to deliver new expertise that customers require, especially around connectivity. Further, companies whose sole focus is electronics manufacturing are not only better suited to keep on top of technology trends, but other business and regulatory pressures too.
One pressure is the demand for energy-efficient electronics, which requires new methods from manufacturers. Reducing energy consumption in finished devices and during the manufacturing process is better for the environment and reduces costs. But the challenge for manufacturers is how to balance sustainability while keeping the cost of the product down.
All these variables and challenges demonstrate that in most cases, it’s better to have a manufacturing partner that can invest in the technologies and processes that improve logistics, agility and delivery, while you focus on designing a great product for them to make.
Understand what you need from a manufacturer
Today’s electronics manufacturers offer a wide spectrum of services, but it’s imperative to clearly outline requirements and expectations, particularly in relation to any unique product or business characteristics.
Selecting a manufacturing partner should be guided by well-thought out requirements around design, material selection and purchasing, prototyping, manufacturing, process validation, test, shipping and logistics. Other requirements that are more specific to a business or product include certifications or locations.
While it might be enticing to offshore manufacturing to reduce costs, having a local partner can be beneficial. Although most will offer a similar set of standard services it’s important to physically tour their facilities, see their equipment and engage with the staff who will be making the product throughout the entire manufacturing lifecycle. However, there is also logic in aligning manufacturing activities with where the product will be sold.
A manufacturing partner should be able to grow as their customer grows. A customer may be starting small but if the goal is to go global, the manufacturer must keep up. Avoid situations where it becomes necessary to migrate from one partner to another or manage multiple manufacturers as it undermines the advantages of outsourcing manufacturing in the first place.
Look for a manufacturing partner with a global presence with comprehensive supply chain services and purchasing power, even if initial product volumes aren’t that large. They should be able to adjust to the ebb and flow of their customers’ business. A sudden surge in product orders should be easily accommodated with the necessary equipment, people and processes.
Location also impacts the supply chain, and not just forward logistics. In addition to being able to source components and efficiently keep production moving, a manufacturer should be strong in reverse logistics. Today’s consumers expect their satisfaction be guaranteed. When they’re not happy, product gets returned, and it means both retailers and manufacturers are seeing more returned merchandise.
A company building product needs to understand why their devices are being returned and how they can improve the production process, either through better components or the manufacturing of the item itself. Look for a manufacturing partner that’s embracing the latest technology and best practices to troubleshoot or repair products. This will reduce the number of returns.
Testing, of course, can also minimize how often a customer might return a device. Quality is driven in part by a manufacturer’s test procedures. What tests are they conducting and what are their inspection procedures to capture defects and prevent them in the future? Are inspections done at every station? What equipment do they use? How can they help validate a product?
Not only is testing necessary for quality control, it needs to be aligned with industry standards and any certifications a product may require, including safety and environmental ratings.
Why you should partner for manufacturing
Meeting industry standards is one of several benefits of outsourcing your manufacturing. Given the complexity and specialization necessary in electronics manufacturing, facilities must now meet a wide array of international standards. It takes a lot of time and money to qualify for these standards the first time, and operations must be maintained to adhere to standards over the long term. A company that’s focused on manufacturing can make those investments and by meeting these high industry standards will in turn produce better end products.
Their investments in forward and reverse logistics, and supply chain management, helps their customer get better pricing on components because of their buying power, and their customers can confidently expect in a high level of authenticity and quality.
Manufacturers are able to invest in innovative processes that save time and money for their entire customer base, who can focus on being creative in the design process because they have peace of mind their product can be easily and cost-effectively made.
There are many choices available when looking for a manufacturing partner, but it ultimately comes down to aligning needs with capabilities and a joint commitment to quality and innovation. Finding a company that can effectively manufacture an electronics product will reduce time to market with lean manufacturing and simplified supply chain management while producing better products that are of the utmost quality.
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