Figuring out how to turn your original idea into an actual product can seem overwhelming. “Where should I begin?” you may be asking yourself. Finding a skilled partner in outsourced manufacturing is an excellent place to start. After you secure that partnership, the outsourcing company can help turn your idea into reality by following these key facets in the outsourced manufacturing process.
It all starts with an idea – an idea that came to you in a dream, a realized need, or through the course of a product life cycle. Whatever the specific situation, you are ready to turn that idea into a realistic conceptualization of your product. At this point in the manufacturing process, your outsourcing partner will use their knowledge of materials and manufacturing techniques to determine the practicality of getting your product made. And as part of the decision to move forward with the commitment to making your product a reality, your business must also decide whether it is marketable and will produce a profit. If the answer is yes, then it is time to move on to the design stage in the manufacturing process.
Once your company has a firm product concept in place, it’s time to move onto the design phase. This is where things get down to the nitty gritty. Exact product specifications are determined including size, weight and specific dimensions for every part of the product. Selecting materials – colors and trim – plus choosing the finishing process is all included in design. After these selections have been made, your outsourcing partner will assist your company in developing production-level drawings and help decide the best manufacturing techniques to use for production. They can also help come up with quoted all-in costs for your design. An advantage of using an outsourcing company during this phase is that they generally have partnerships with a wide-variety of factories that specialize in your manufactured design, so they can produce it efficiently and at a lower cost.
With a firm design in place, it’s time to move onto creating a prototype of your product! If a sourcing company is handling this part of the process, they should be able to produce your prototype in the intended final materials, given enough lead time. Under a tighter time frame and budget, composite ingredients could be used as alternative. And if required, the sourcing company can manufacture 100 units or less to test form, fit and functionality, prior to the mass build. This is often a must for automotive and OEM businesses.
After you are satisfied with your prototype, it’s time to begin the sampling approval process. The sourcing company you’ve partnered with should have a detailed sampling approval process in place to ensure precise requirements are met for your product – before manufacturing begins. A sourcing company focused on producing quality products from the start will enact tooling-approval sampling runs as well as pre-production approval samples. Tooling approval is a run of the tool in its final materials, including inspection reports and appropriate certifications. The latter approval sample run consists of “ready-to-sell” packaging samples to ensure there are no hiccups during the mass manufacturing process.
Once you’ve signed off on the sampling approval process, it’s time for production! If you’re working with a sourcing company, the production protocol should include the following:
- Choice of factory
- Included quotation process
- Pre-production planning & sample approval
- Continuous production monitoring & status updates
- Ongoing improvement in production processes
- SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) assessment
- Production capabilities & capacity monitoring
- Ongoing shipping schedule adherence monitoring
A good sourcing company should offer competitive pricing, comparable to factory-direct without hidden fees or additional costs. And with this outsourced partnership in place, the production process should be simplified since that company should handle vetting qualified factories, securing the lowest pricing, monitoring quality control throughout production and delivering your products to you on-time.
Now that your product is in the manufacturing process everything’s smooth sailing from here on out, with nothing else to think about, right? Not quite. During the production process, a lot of things can go wrong. Materials can warp; specs can be misinterpreted by the factory. More than ever, every aspect of the production process must be monitored to ensure 100% quality satisfaction. This sounds tedious, but this is where the expertise of quality analysts from a sourcing company can step in and take over this process. Quality assurance staff can handle:
- Bill of materials verification to meet compliances
- Assembly process audits
- Package quality monitoring
- Obtaining inspection reports and coordinating independent testing if necessary
- Meeting quality assurance requirements and providing on-site inspections if needed
Continued quality assurance in manufacturing is a key part of the production process, ensuring your company’s reputation for making quality products is solidified.
Since packaging provides the first impression of a product, it’s critical to make sure it appeals to customers and properly encloses and protects the item(s) you would like to distribute. Sourcing companies should be able to assist with this key step in the manufacturing process as well. They should have experienced staff members who can provide guidance on messaging and graphics, as well as package printing and assembly. And with sourcing companies like United Global Sourcing, packaging is just part of your pre-production sample – something most sourcing companies don’t automatically include.
Once your products have been manufactured, who is going to ensure they are delivered to the appropriate retail establishment, distribution center or warehouse? This is another key part of the outsourced manufacturing process. It may seem like a simple step in this process, but in fact, can be quite complex. Logistics includes so much more than just “shipping”. The experts handling this part of the manufacturing process coordinate whether items are air-shipped or sent from factories as ocean freight. They also ensure items will clear customs; and, that duties, taxes and fees are calculated accurately. They work with carriers and shipping companies to arrange for rail and ground delivery to your warehouse or endpoint, while keeping costs and shipping times to a minimum. Most outsourcing companies have team members dedicated to the logistics process, so you can benefit from their knowledge to ensure this part of the experience will go smoothly!
A final critical piece of the outsourced manufacturing process is to ensure that throughout a product’s journey, required certifications are being met and audits are passed successfully. This area is another where having your supply chain outsourced can be advantageous to your business. These companies make sure from the beginning that utilized suppliers are fully-vetted. Many industries require certifications specific to their industry – automotive, aerospace, OEM and the like. So, working with an experienced company that possesses this knowledge is obviously quite valuable.
When seeking to get your idea made into a full-fledged product, be sure to follow these key pieces of the outsourced manufacturing process. And to make this process go as smoothly as possible, it is recommended to partner with an outsourced manufacturing company that can guide you through these steps with their expertise and knowledge. United Global Sourcing, Inc. is one of these companies, possessing over 35 years of experience in outsourced manufacturing. Our long-standing partnerships with factories, suppliers, shippers and experts in the industry will help you move smoothly through the manufacturing process. Contact us today to get started!