There is a range of reasons why you might choose to outsource the manufacturing of your electronic products – from not having the technical expertise or equipment in house to being at capacity and needing help with an unexpected project.
However, the primary driving factor behind outsourcing your electronics manufacturing is, of course, the cost savings. Outsourced manufacturing typically costs noticeably less than manufacturing in-house.
That being said, the decision to outsource should not be taken lightly, and there are several other important factors besides cost that need to be taken into consideration when selecting your manufacturer.
Here is a rundown of the seven things to check before making your decision…
1. Scalability — can they meet the changing needs of your project?
Demand for products can come in peaks and troughs depending on the season, economy, market and a range of other factors. When outsourcing your manufacturing, you may want to start small and increase your volumes gradually, or you might suddenly get a big order that needs fulfilling right away.
As such, it is important to choose a manufacturer that can keep up and adapt quickly to fluctuations in demand. This means looking for a manufacturer with an advanced production line, a network of distribution centres and an excellent supply chain with good lead times. A manufacturer with multiple facilities specialising in different aspects of electronics manufacturing will also be more flexible in allocating projects depending on your specific requirements.
2. Efficiency — will they streamline processes to improve time, cost and sustainability?
No one wants to spend more time or money on their project than is necessary. A good manufacturer should continuously review operations for areas that can be streamlined and where savings can be made — not only for themselves but also for you, the customer.
Any redundant processes that do not contribute to a high-quality, finished product (delivered on time and in budget) should be disregarded. Of course, efficiency also means ensuring processes are as sustainable as possible. The manufacturer has a duty to ensure production produces a minimal amount of waste and reduces negative environmental impacts. As the customer, you also have a responsibility to select a manufacturer which prioritises sustainability as part of their company ethos.
3. Innovation — do they use new technologies and keep up with the latest trends to support your project?
If you are looking to branch into new markets or develop different products, it is vital to have the right technology and knowledge in that area to be able to do so. However, this can often mean a significant initial investment in equipment and skilled labour — which is not always ideal if you are still testing the waters.
Outsourcing can help overcome this hurdle, but it is essential to ensure the manufacturer has the expertise and technology you require for your project. Be sure to find out what services they offer, the tools and technologies they use for each service and ask about similar projects they have worked on. If they have a ‘blog’ or ‘news’ section on their website, this can also be a good place to get an insight into their understanding of the latest electronics trends.
4. Communication — have they made their pricing and ability to meet deadlines clear?
With any project, there are bound to be some hiccups along the way. However, problems can easily be mitigated through clear and consistent communication. Pricing should be explained in detail and expectations managed by setting realistic deadlines (not just telling you what you want to hear).
If the manufacturer shows interest in your project and enquiry — listening to any queries and addressing them promptly — this is a good sign. If communication is already poor during the initial contact stage, it may only get worse once the project begins.
5. Quality — can they demonstrate their dedication to quality standards?
Quality is arguably the most crucial factor in electronics manufacturing. However, when operations are outsourced, it becomes harder to maintain control over quality. This is why it is essential to choose a manufacturer with impeccable quality standards — who you can trust to deliver outstanding results time and time again.
When selecting a manufacturer, be sure to check their certifications and standards, as this will give a good indication of how seriously they take their quality processes. It is also a good idea to visit their facilities if possible so that you can see first-hand how they operate.
6. Reputation — have they got positive feedback/reviews to back up their work?
It is one thing for the manufacturer to tell you they can deliver your project, but how can they prove it? Reviews and recommendations from past or current clients go a long way in demonstrating how that manufacturer operates and the level of customer service you can expect from them.
Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to ask for recommendations and do your own research to establish what their reputation is like.
7. Transparency — do you know who will be involved in your project?
When you are outsourcing an electronics manufacturing project, it is important to know exactly who is working on it and how qualified they are for the job. A good manufacturer should introduce you to the team handling your project and explain who will be taking care of the different stages of production. As well as putting you at ease, knowing who to contact with any questions will also help ensure the process runs smoothly.
Are you keen to know more about outsourced manufacturing? Get in contact with Greg Faughnan at EC Electronics on GFaughnan@ecelectronics.com to see how we can help deliver your next project.