Choosing a manufacturer to produce the products you need is no small decision. As with most contract decisions, it is unwise to simply go with the lowest quote. You also need to be confident the manufacturer has understood the requirements, correctly calculated their overheads, has the resources to meet deadlines, and won’t damage your reputation through poor product quality or customer service.
Are your business models compatible?
If your market focus requires agility and frequent changes of design, will your manufacturer be understanding and geared up ready to oblige? Will you be able to forge good communications and relationships between the relevant personnel in both companies?
While China still offers very competitive solutions for mass production, and India has a very capable chemicals industry, local British companies are much more likely to serve you well if you are likely to need quick turnarounds of small batches, adjustments, and good communications.
For Asian companies, Alibaba and MadeInChina.com will furnish you with initial contact details. There are also some useful directories of British manufacturers, such as UK Directory.
Assessing your partner
Choosing British also means it is possible to contact previous customers for references and testimonials; for example, well-established reputable companies that supply products such as galvanised steel spiral duct will already have many customers happy to share their experiences with you. Simply type the company and product – such as galvanised steel spiral duct – into a search engine to see the feedback.
Consultants are available that specialise in industrial matchmaking; however, if you are not familiar with the agent, you have simply shifted the problem. It is better not to rely solely on agents, directories or emails; instead, make a point of physically visiting them yourself.
First impressions are often a good indication of what to expect. If the company is untidy and seems to have no inventory control, the problems are not difficult to predict. On the other hand, if it seems to be spending lavishly on infrastructure, you may have reason to worry about prices and cash flow at some later point.
Documentation guarantees good communication
Most problems can be avoided by ensuring your documentation is top-notch and complete. Ensure the dimensions and other qualities are perfectly clear both for casual readers and technical machinists. Beyond numbers and technical drawings, ensure the manufacturer understands your purpose.