Choosing the right manufacturing partner is critical to the success of your business. When searching for someone to build your products, there are many important things to keep in mind; experience, capabilities, standards, and pricing, to name a few. Therefore, before settling on the best manufacturing partner and entering into an agreement, get quotes from several candidates and test samples of their work. In this article, Vinod Ramchandra Jadhav offers valuable tips on finding the best manufacturer for you.
If your business plan includes providing manufactured goods or equipment to your customers, one of the first steps you must take is to find the right manufacturing partner. Manufacturing may be your single most significant expense for many new product ideas, so it’s crucial to get it right.
How many manufacturers do you need?
As you consider the most beneficial manufacturer relationships, remember that you may want more than one source. On the one hand, you may be offered quantity discounts to entice you to buy from a single manufacturer, and that’s important. But, on the other hand, there is less risk of running into supply chain issues if you have access to more than one supplier.
Many startups and small businesses solve this quantity discounts versus supply chain risk issue by partnering with two providers—one for your day-to-day business and another for overflow or other special needs. You may find that an overseas supplier can offer better prices but could need longer lead times. At the same time, a domestic manufacturer may be more expensive yet more responsive to fast turnaround requirements. Often one foreign partner and one domestic one is the best manufacturing partner solution.
Where can you find the right manufacturer?
If your great new idea for a product is similar to or related to an existing product, learn about where the related product is built. Because manufacturing equipment is generally very expensive, product builders tend to be quite specialized. If you need small electronic parts, for example, find a similar existing product, you can determine who makes this component with a bit of research.
There are also many online directories for commercial and industrial suppliers. In addition, organizations such as ThomasNet, Maker’s Row, and MFG are great ways to connect with the manufacturing community.
How to pick the right manufacturing partner.
After identifying several manufacturers specializing in the kind of product you want to build, it’s time to narrow down the list. Creating an RFP or an RFQ can help you find the manufacturers best suited for you.
RFPs and RFQs don’t have to be complicated or elaborate. The difference is that an RFP (request for proposal) describes what you want the final product to be and leaves it up to the manufacturer to decide how best to make what you’ve described. On the other hand, an RFQ (request for quote) provides detailed instructions on what you want the manufacturer to build and how.
With either an RFP or an RFQ, the suppliers will provide you with your cost, lead times, and other requirements for hiring them as your best manufacturing partner. Pick the one or two you want to work with and start talking about contracts.