With every manufacturer and producer in the market looking to cut costs, working with manufacturing partners has become a necessary reality in manufacturing. Trying to maintain a full engineering staff for designs and a turnkey manufacturing line isn’t practical for most players in the industry. Therefore, if selling a product is what you do, then selecting an electronics manufacturing partner is crucial. Let’s look at what is involved in choosing a electronics manufacturing partner, including determining cost and the relationship importance.
Manufacturing is a competitive business, and becomes more each year. It has now become not necessarily “who does it,” but “who does it best.” Although the cost and value are often foremost in mind, one must consider the relationship potential with your electronics manufacturing partner. Here are some things to consider, as well as some pitfalls you could encounter in your search.
Consider Your Company’s Specific Needs
Much of who you work with depends on you and your individual needs. How quickly does your product need to get to market? How much volume do you intend to produce? What is the lifespan of your product? Although there is a wealth of information on the internet, be sure to consider your geographic location and product distribution. Don’t choose a partner based on their presentation alone; check their references, get a good feel for how they do business. Visit the factory yourself; don’t rely on pictures you see online. Tour the facility, visit with their staff, and survey the condition of the machinery and tools
Where are the Experts?
It is easy to simply work with your own engineering staff and hand off the actual manufacturing process to the electronics manufacturing partner. But consider their in-house expertise as an added value. Up to 70% of product costs are early in the process, so having access to additional engineering minds can save later on in production. Further, an experienced electronics manufacturing partner is most qualified in layouts and strategizing the use of components (especially those hard to source or near end of life) to minimize manufacturing costs. They can also provide financial benefits, as they have the advantage of economies of scale.
Narrowing Down the List—Cost Isn’t the Final Determiner
Having just a few electronics manufacturing partners on your “short list” doesn’t make it any easier. The lowest price is not necessarily the obvious choice, as the end product can be of inferior quality, leading to failures, recalls and subsequent damage to your brand. Additionally some electronics manufacturing partners have processes built in to capture any additional (aka hidden) costs and pass them on as various fees and charges to you.
Consider Your Relationship with the Electronics Manufacturing Partner
Once you have a contract manufacturer chosen, review your needs with them. Ensure all members of your team, along with the major players on theirs, are part of the decision-making. Engage engineering and design teams during the product development stage, remembering that research and development is not the same set of skills as production. Be sure to provide detailed documentation regarding the dimensions of your product so that the electronics manufacturing team knows exactly what your needs are and can fulfill them to your expectations.
There are a several other red flags to look for when choosing an electronics manufacturing partner which are worthy of mention. When considering electronics manufacturing partners, review the data they monitor and metrics they evaluate: what is their safety policy, rate of project delays, and do they have rigorous quality metrics? Investigate their use of batch manufacturing and technology use. Those who use outdated inventory and material management production systems may end up padding the costs and thus increasing the risk. Evaluate their production methodology to determine if the electronics manufacturing partner is able to handle your complex build.
The method of choosing a manufacturing partner needs to begin with clear expectations, carefully considering the factors which will help both partners succeed. Look for one which meets your needs, providing experience and exhibiting processes which lead to a successful fit. Consider pitfalls which can occur when capabilities and approaches don’t align. Find one that complements your company in operation, financial and strategic design.
SMC is a print circuit board assembly manufacturer, system integration/box build manufacturer that is located in the heart of Kentucky. Our two locations provide quick and easy access for the technology industry in the eastern region.
We specialize and are certified to manufacture products in the medical, security, military/DOD, industrial controls, construction, and transportation industries. To maximize customer support, we have created five separate engineering departments: process, test, customer, system integration, and quality engineering. These departments offer world class engineering support and product development. SMC has the EMS solutions you need to ensure quality electronic products at a competitive cost.