Wesley Chang

November 8, 2016

Choosing a Manufacturer: The 5 Most Important Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Quality Assurance

Choosing a manufacturer to produce your hardware product is a lengthy, time consuming, and overwhelming task.

But, believe it or not, there are a few things that you can keep in mind in order to make this process a lot easier and faster.

In the midst of designing and prototyping, founders are always quick to jump the gun on manufacturing. They immediately assume that they’re going to need the biggest and greatest manufacturer of all without even considering how many people are actually going to purchase their product.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You should be considering most, if not all of these:

  1. The quantity of your product that is needed to be produced.
  2. Where do you want your product to be manufactured?
  3. How reputable is the manufacturer?
  4. How big is the facility?
  5. What quality assurance methods are put into place during production?

This may look a little overwhelming, but believe me, doing your homework now rather than later will save you a great deal of headache.

So without any more delay, let’s go down the line.

1. How Many Units Do You Need to Be Manufactured?

Depending on the scale at which you want to produce, you may not be qualified for manufacturing in China.

If you want to sell at high volumes, then you’re probably already looking at Chinese manufacturing. And you should be.

It has a few advantages over manufacturing locally. One being, it costs less, but it also has some disadvantages like the lack of communication.

Maybe you’re not looking to build the next GoPro, or maybe you only have a small customer base. That’s alright! You can easily get in touch with a local manufacturer but keep in mind that doing so will cost you nearly twice as much as manufacturing in China.

2. Where Do You Want Your Product to be Manufactured?

Where you want your product made is always personal preference. When it comes down to buying something off the shelves or online, it’s manufacturing origins usually don’t matter as long as the product over delivers on quality, functionality, and usefulness.

Let’s put it this way.

If I bought a pair of headphones that sounded absolutely incredible, drowned out the noises around me, and had great low end bass (I have to admit, I’m a bass head), but later find that those headphones were made in China, I’m not going to care one bit.

With that being said, if you want to support local hardware factories, then by all means, do exactly that.

But if you want to scale, and save money, then Chinese manufacturing should be your go-to.

3. How Reputable is the Manufacturer?

Reputation Logos

You wouldn’t want a shady hardware manufacturer to build your product, right?

Good, neither would we.

To stray away from those, consider the companies that they’ve previously and currently produce for. If they produce for Apple, or Samsung, then you know that they’re trusted amongst major retailers.

4. How Large is the Facility?

SVV Manufacturing China

I’m not just talking about the square footage of land that the facility sits on, I’m also talking about how many employees the company has.

Usually, the more employees the factory has, the longer it’s been in business, and the more it has grown and expanded.

Shane Broesky, contributor to Entrepreneur.com and co-founder of Farbe Technik, suggests that you stay away from small factories.

In the article, “5 Questions Entrepreneurs Should Ask When Choosing a Manufacturer,” he said,

“Avoid a small factory. More often than not, these factories have only been around for a short period of time and they lack the quality controls of a more established factory.”

Him and his team decided to work with a small factory, thinking that they would pay closer attention to their product.

However, that factory lacked the necessary quality assurance control and methods that a more established factory would have. Instead of their product being produced under close attention, they had to dump 25% of their inventory because of quality issues.

Luckily for you, if you decide to choose a smaller factory, these 5 topics will help you identify which factory is up to par.

5. What Quality Assurance Methods are Put in Place?

Quality is key.

Think about it.

Shane had to discard 25% of his inventory because his factory did a poor job of producing his product. Do you really want to take the risk of paying  a contract manufacturer thousands of dollars to deliver a poorly built product?

Some manufacturers only do QA at the end of production to make sure that the product at least works.

That’s not enough. Seriously.

If you’re physically present during production then take a step down to the manufacturing line and observe how your product is being handled.

Make sure that employees aren’t cutting corners.

The more quality assurance steps are put in place, the lower the risk of defective products. That could potentially save you thousands of dollars, and time!

Choosing Your Manufacturer

Now that you’ve gathered up all this information when researching potential factories to work with, get it all down on paper.

Review your findings and decided which manufacturer offers the best quality, and value.

It can be a hard decision, so you should also consider what you value most.

Ask yourself these 5 questions when searching for a CM and you’ll be able to make a highly informed decision.

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