How to choose the best Contract manufacturer for your production and ensure production quality control?
So you have decided to outsource your manufacturing activities and move your production line to a location where labor and material costs are lower or because your targeted market is located there (or both reasons).
Now you need to find the best Contract manufacturer to run our manufacturing line. But how would you ensure production quality control?
You are going to handover a key stage of your business to the selected candidate, and if you don’t get it right it could have a significant impact on the success of your business. It is critical that the Contract manufacturer can meet your manufacturing capacity, cost and quality in manufacturing requirements and ensure production quality control.
The “price” for not meeting our requirements for capacity and quality is high. It means unhappy customers and additional costs that will damage the product’s position in the market. That is why monitoring production quality is so important.
The selection process
The process of choosing the right contractor for manufacturing is extremely important. You’ll probably want to identify between 3 and 8 candidates to engage in your RFP (Request for Proposal) process.
Your position as a potential new client during the initial negotiation stage is strong and it will gradually deteriorate as negotiations progress. Therefore it is essential that you define all your requirements in detail at the bid stage. Adding new requirement later on is probably going to cost you lot of money.
Broadly speaking, you need to clearly define in detail all your expectations from the Contract manufacturer: the manufacturing process, quality in manufacturing, support, repairs, raw material inventory, daily capacity, testing processes, monitoring procedure, reporting procedure, failures and production quality control in general.
The experience of the Contract manufacturer
Consider the candidate Contract manufacturer experience in manufacturing similar types of your products. Is your product complex enough to make this a concern? Do you operate in an environment with special requirements, such as medical or aerospace which may make previous experience a real necessity for production quality control?
Get references from existing customers of the Contract manufacturer. Get references from existing customers of the Contract manufacturer . Ok…., yes we said it twice. Expect to hear a list of reason why this can’t be done – we’ve heard them all. Be persistent here and insist. Ideally you’ll want details for 3-4 existing clients and usually clients will be more than happy to share their experiences with the Contract manufacturer, mainly about his quality in manufacturing procedures and production quality control methods.
Conducting an audit in the facilities where manufacturing is planned is necessary in order to evaluate the level of production quality control. Visit the locations of the candidate Contract manufacturers and conduct your own QA audit to review his mainly about his quality in manufacturing procedures. The audit should follow the parameters defined by the ISO 9001-2000 Checklist . Yes it is a long and a tedious list and you’ll want to adapt to your specific needs. However, the more thorough and detailed your audit, the better your chances are of choosing the right Contract manufacturer .
You need to ensure that the following tools and equipment are available for your project:
- Robust Internet connection (at least 10 Mb/s download and 1 Mb/s upload).
- Electricity supply that is going to meet your manufacturing and testing needs.
- Backup solution for power outages.
- Sufficient space and location for production, material and finished goods.
- Manufacturing machinery and testing equipment for quality assurance.
We can’t stress enough the importance of getting your facility requirements, machinery, tooling and infrastructure clearly detailed in the contract with your Contract manufacturer. In our experience this is a mistake that is often made in the negotiation period – don’t make assumptions, make sure everything is written down in black and white in the agreement.
Quality in Manufacturing Procedures
What level of quality in manufacturing procedures does the Contract manufacturer have in place? Look at defect analysis on existing lines. What standard reports do you expect for the manufacturing process? What depth of information are you going to need for production quality control? Make sure that status reports will be generated and provided to a defined schedule and when necessary, on demand.
Gut feelings count!
How is your formal and informal communication with the Contract manufacturer? Are things open and fluid? Is a relationship of trust being formed? This informal and intuitive “feeling” is as important as other formal consideration. Do they appear eager to work with you? What level of attention was invested in the bid process? Are you satisfied with production quality control system?
How do you feel about the project manager and the team members allocated for your project from the Contract manufacturer side? How is their eve of enthusiasm for your project?
Summarize your results and take that key decision
Your team should evaluate the audit results of the Contract manufacturer. Score your candidates throughout the selection process – you may rule out candidates early in the process. Make a detailed summary of your findings for the candidate Contract manufacturers and weigh each of your key parameters in a comparison table. Ideally the candidate Contract manufacturers should be scored separately by more than one member of your team before the final results are compared and assessed. Finally you should be ready to make the decision and choose the best contract manufacturer to mass produce your products with the best level of production quality control.
Picking the right Contract manufacturer to operate your remote manufacturing line is a key decision. Cost is important, but many other factors are going to contribute to the long-term success of your new partnership. No matter how confident you are in your final choice, it’s still essential that you have full visibility of your testing data available at your fingertips to provide best production quality control.
Quality in Manufacturing starts here
QualityLine lets you regain control over the quality in manufacturing of your outsourced manufacturing line if it is located in your own facilities or even if it is located on the other side of the world.
The system helps significantly improve quality, increase yield and minimize downtime incidents.
How does it work?
Testing data is automatically and continuously collected from your testing stations located on your manufacturing line, analyze and securely upload it to analytics dashboards exclusively set for you.
You get 24/7 accurate information about each unit tested. You can overview and drill down up to a single unit, conduct quick root cause analysis and improve production quality.