How to Choose a Manufacturer

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Outsourcing of manufacturing functions has become a common occurrence that can be taken as a strategic move. Whether one is looking to manufacture goods for resale or value addition or one time use, it is important to choose the correct manufacturer as this will determine the success of your own project. 

Choosing a Manufacturer

Choosing a manufacturer is important and one should take the time to consider various factors that differentiate the ideal manufacturer from the others. There are different types of manufacturers, while some already specialize in specific products, others will allow the customer to develop products for specific needs. The type of manufacturer needed will rely on the nature of the product.

Outsourcing

A company can opt to use an external manufacturer especially if the company lacks the necessary technical knowledge and facilities to manufacture the goods. Using an external manufacturer spares the producer the costs of acquiring manufacturing equipment and manpower. Using an external manufacturer also spares a company the trial and error that is necessary for manufacturing a new product.

A major factor that leads a company to use an external manufacturer is lack of space especially for young companies, even though the company can use a mezzanine to utilize the available space, this is often not enough.

Factors to consider when choosing a manufacturer

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Manufacturer

When choosing a manufacturer, it is important to undertake thorough research on the available and potential manufacturers before making a decision. To achieve this, the company should identify and contact at least five manufacturers who would be a good fit, and further interrogate their suitability to identify the ideal manufacturer. When assessing the different manufacturers, one should consider the following factors:

Services available:

Depending on the complexity of the components required, a company may require the manufacturer to provide services beyond the traditional manufacturing methods such as metal stamping and die casting.

It is important to consider whether the manufacturer provides additional services such as: 

  • Molding
  • Tooling 
  • Assembly
  • Packaging
  • Automation 

While a company may not require all these services, it is important to partner with a manufacturer who shows range and adaptability as it shows openness to new and emerging methods. 

Adopting new technological methods of manufacturing can help reduce: 

  • production costs
  • improve product qualities
  • reduce the time taken for production

The company should also consider manufacturers that offer prototyping services, especially where the manufacturer can offer several prototypes varying on methodology and materials to assist the company make an informed decision on the final product.

Experience in the Field 

A company will want to partner with a manufacturer that already has experience in the specific field. Experience in the field ensures that the manufacturer is well versed with standards, regulations, and procedures that are applicable in that sector. 

The company can verify a manufacturer's experience as part of the due diligence research whereby the company would contact previous business partners to verify the delivery of services and the quality of services delivered by the manufacturer.

Adherence to Standards 

The core purpose of evaluating a manufacturer's performance is to ensure that they deliver quality products through a verifiable quality management system. The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) has established guidelines, structure, and standards for different manufacturing goods. 

A company should check that a manufacturer is ISO certified for the industry that they operate in such as medical or automotive which have different standards. The manufacturer should also check for ISO certification relating to the manufacturing industry and related factors such as environmental protection. The company should also check that the manufacturer enforces quality performance measures such as quality planning and measures such as parts per million (PPM).

Post Processes

While the core aspects of manufacturing involve processes such as metalworking, the process is not complete until the product is ready to be put to the intended use. To this end, a manufacturer that offers post-manufacturing processes such as refining and tumbling will be more advantageous to the company as they can perform processes that add durability and customizability through branding.

The availability of these services from the primary manufacturer ensures that the production is completed in one setting and spares the company additional costs that would otherwise be incurred in transport and engaging a third party.

While the manufacturers will provide this information on request, the customer should undertake due diligence and independently verify the information provided to ensure the correctness. This exercise will also establish the reputation of the manufacturer with former customers, regulatory authorities, and other players in the industry.