Any business working with multiple partners to manufacture a product has likely faced a similar set of challenges. Coordination can be difficult, parties may have competing interests, and project costs and lead times suffer as a result. Not only that, but a segmented workflow can make it difficult for expert suppliers to question traditional practices and bring forward new solutions.
Worse still, sometimes this is just “the way it’s done.” It’s time to question these assumptions.
During the product development lifecycle there is certainly no shortage of questions businesses should attempt to answer. How will issues large and small be communicated and acted on quickly? Will a beneficial partnership with open communication be maintained across all contributors? Will there be real opportunity to benefit from the wealth of knowledge manufacturing partners have in the category, or are individual parties protecting their piece of the pie?
These are not abstract questions. During our long history we have seen many businesses tackle these considerations head on, and we have never shied away from sharing our perspective in recommending the best course of action.
A New Way to Think About Contract Manufacturing
Though each project warrants its own assessment, experience tells us that many businesses benefit from working with an experienced full service vertically integrated contract manufacturer to fulfill needs that otherwise would require input from multiple manufacturing partners.
We’ve found that, all-too-often, a circuit board manufacturer or other single component supplier is responsible for assembling elements from multiple parties. This can lead to a multitude of inefficiencies. Compounding the problem, those responsible for assembly many times have no experience manufacturing components using the materials used by the other suppliers.
Still, this is many times seen as the “way things are done. ” This warrants a fresh look at typical contract manufacturing relationships and responsibilities, and the benefits of structuring partnerships differently.
Shorter Lead Time
When a circuit board manufacturer or other supplier who does not have complete control of the plastics associated with a product determines a change is needed during assembly or testing, the resulting back and forth communication required can turn even a simple change into a days-long delay.
At MME group, we know that when you are vertically integrated and are responsible for the full breadth of components in a product, a quick team re-group can determine what adjustments are needed. Simply put, an integrated team of experts can help bring a product to market more quickly.
Though many businesses initially seek efficiencies by working with various manufacturers to produce product components – with one organization ultimately responsible for sourcing and assembly – there are additional costs associated with that approach that are not always considered.
When a manufacturer brings in components for assembly it must be stored and inspected. Additionally, if any challenges do arise, logistical demands mean finding a solution also comes at an additional cost.
This, again, is where partnering with a single, experienced team in control of all aspects of the supply chain provides real benefits.
Utilizing Expert Knowledge
When truly partnering with a contract manufacturer a business benefits from that manufacturer’s years of experience and expertise. When manufacturing responsibilities are diffuse, expert opinions can be diffuse as well.
An overly aggressive division of responsibility can lead to each manufacturing partner fulfilling their obligation to the best of their ability – though without the necessary context to help a business make holistic decisions. What are the tradeoffs of each decision regarding materials, sourcing, assembly, and all associated costs? Is each manufacturing partner just working with – or even “dealing with” – what they view as sub-par components from other manufacturers? Is there a better way that is falling through the cracks?
These are questions that true partnership with a contract manufacturer can help answer.
An Extension of Your Company
The manufacturer you work with should be an extension of your company that serves as a true solutions provider. This view encompasses everything MME group does, and in our view is the key paradigm shift contract manufacturing needs.