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How to Find the Right Manufacturing Partner

When weighing your options, you need to find answers to a number of important questions - but what are they?

Does the supplier you are considering offer the manufacturing processes you need?

The best way to see for yourself is to visit.

Can the supplier deliver quickly enough?

Get assurances that manufacturing speed and capacity will meet your product development, launch and production needs.

Does the supplier have a minimum order quantity?

Some suppliers set a high minimum order quantity. If you only need small quantities initially, you are usually best served by an on-demand manufacturing service with no minimum quantity.

Does the quality control meet your requirements?

Is the standard offered suitable for your product? For example, quality control at a supplier for medical device parts should be much more stringent than for commercial products. Pay only for the level of quality you need.

Does the company work with the materials you need?

If a wide range of materials is important to you, on-demand manufacturing services often have the best selection in stock and have the specialized knowledge to use them to their best advantage. And they are also able to work with customer-supplied materials.

Will you get the design support you need?

If you're not a manufacturing expert yourself, it's best to choose a service that can support you and advise on the feasibility of your part or product.


Taking advantage of digital manufacturing

In addition to the questions listed above, when choosing a manufacturer, you also need to consider whether a supplier can offer the benefits of digital manufacturing, including lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

TCO considers the direct and indirect costs of procuring and using a part or product throughout its lifecycle. Essentially, it is the purchase price plus additional costs such as shipping and logistics, warehousing, operations, maintenance and parts retirement. This is a better measure of value for money or return on investment than purchase price alone. Evaluating suppliers for TCO is also about quality, consistency and timely delivery, not just initial financial outlay.

How do suppliers lower total cost of ownership?

Advanced manufacturing technologies are driving the new industrial revolution known as "Industry 4.0," and more suppliers are using automated processes to quickly and cost-effectively evaluate, plan and produce custom parts and products.

For example, some on-demand manufacturers offer cost advantages in the production of tools and parts. These are achieved through:

# services to manufacture a project or design from prototype to production. This reduces the cost and complexity of working with multiple vendors.

# Size and advanced automation of production facilities, resulting in on-time and timely delivery.

# Reducing inventory costs by offering buyers the flexibility to order only the quantities they need at any given time

# Managing fluctuations in demand: rapid production even when demand increases, avoiding the risk of lost sales opportunities

# Usage guarantees for injection molding projects. Certain suppliers offer a lifetime warranty on your molds, so there are no additional mold costs for repeat orders.

So it pays to take the time to find a supplier that is an exact fit for the buyer company. Think of it as a partnership that both parties are committed to and invested in. And in the digital age, it's increasingly advisable to look at additional total cost of ownership (TCO) savings as well.

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