If you’re developing a new product and have a great supply chain, it could be one of your biggest differentiators. Unless you get this right, you are not going to achieve your price points, sustainability or reliability goals.

Product design matters, of course, but your supply chain is also absolutely critical. You need to deeply understand the capabilities of the factories you’re working with. If you have a local manufacturing partner build your initial designs, you can then more quickly learn what works and what does not. This will not only iron out design issues upfront, but also help you immensely during negotiations of manufacturing costs with domestic or overseas factories.

Businesses around the world are asking how they can build a resilient and flexible product development process, especially after a pandemic that strained the global supply chain.

Questions to Ask a New Manufacturer

Here are sample questions to ask when choosing a new manufacturing partner:

  1. Manufacturing Capabilities: Do they have experience manufacturing components similar to the ones in your product?

  2. Quality Control: What are their quality control processes? Ask them to describe how they monitor quality and show you proof of their track record.

  3. Lead Times: What are the typical lead times for components like yours?

  4. Busy Time: When is the factory the busiest? How do they handle the busy times? Do they hire additional staff or do they require additional lead time to handle their busy workload?

  5. Hiring Process: What is their hiring process to attract high-quality talent? Your product is only going to be as good as their talent, especially if it calls for advanced manufacturing methods.

  6. Communication Preferences: What are their preferred communication channels: phone, email, face-to-face meetings, or video conferences? If the latter, check if they have the internet bandwidth to do this effectively.

  7. Change Control Process: What processes do they use to ensure that products are manufactured to the right version of the design? How do they keep track of different versions?

  8. Business Contact: Who would be the point person of contact for you? Will this person be completely dedicated to your project or sharing their time with other companies? If the latter, how much time will be allocated to your project?

  9. Business Viability: What were their sales for the last 3-5 years? Are they profitable? You want to make sure that they are growing, investing in their capabilities, and will be a viable long-term partner for you.

For each of the above cases, ask the manufacturer to describe instances where their process has worked flawlessly, where things have gone wrong, and what corrective actions or process improvements they made to prevent such errors in the future.

Of course, the above questions represent only a small fraction of what you should be asking yourself before you even log into your CAD platform.

How to Strengthen Your Supply Chain

ebook coverTo make your design journey easier, learn how cloud-native CAD is unlocking new levels of advanced collaboration with third-party manufacturers and accelerating product time-to-market. 

By migrating from file-based CAD to cloud-native CAD, you can improve business agility and resilience, as outlined in our eBook, Improving Agility and Minimizing Supply Chain Risk with Cloud-Native CAD

As design specifications and market trends change, companies can respond more quickly thanks to streamlined design communications. At the same time, supply chain risk can be reduced with the simplicity of working with several partners around the world. You can collaborate with a number of providers while knowing that they are all using the most recent accurate design version. Additionally, you continue to be in charge of access permissions, assisting in the protection of your intellectual property.

Learn how you can build resilience across business functions with cloud-native CAD by downloading the eBook today.

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(This blog was originally published June 5, 2019.)