What are the initial steps to take when evaluating prospective contract manufacturers? Does the manufacturer's expertise and technical capability meet your needs? Does the customer relationship bring you just the product or something more?
When you find the right manufacturing partner, you can trust that you receive expert service and high-quality products delivered on schedule. Choosing the right partner saves your resources, for instance, due to their in-depth industry knowledge and wide range of services.
We have listed in this article the factors that help you find the most suitable partner for your specific needs.
Find out the partner's service offering – just manufacturing or something more?
A partner who offers a wide range of services is often to the customer's advantage. When you get product design, manufacturing, and assembly under one roof, you save not only time but also money.
Working within the framework of a single cooperation agreement is straightforward, and you avoid searching for several different operators, clarifying contract terms, and coordinating schedules of different operators. When the partner is an expert in both product design and manufacturing, different phases of the project can be considered during the design phase to optimize time and costs.
Up to 80% of a product's total cost is formed during the product design phase. Design solutions, material choices, manufacturing methods, and their integration have a significant impact on the overall cost of the product. When the design is done from the beginning with a manufacturing partner, future costs can be anticipated at an early stage.
At Mectalent, we have found that sometimes during the manufacturing process, it is noticed that using a different material choice or manufacturing method can utilize resources more efficiently, which usually affects the final product's price favorably from the customer's perspective. In such cases, we proactively contact our customer, as we always want to offer the most cost-effective outcome.
What quality systems is the manufacturing partner committed to?
Different certificates and quality systems ensure that the manufacturing partner knows and is committed to complying with the quality requirements of different industries in their operations. International ISO quality standards indicate that the company's operations are reliable and high-quality.
Additionally, the quality standards in use indicate the areas the company specializes in and the special expertise they invest in. For example, if you are in the medical field, it's good to first check whether the future partner has an ISO 13485 certificate for the manufacturing of medical devices.
Mectalent is committed to ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 quality systems. In the safety and aviation sectors, we consider AQAP 2110 and EN 9100 standards.
Ensure the manufacturing partner's technical capability, machinery, and facilities
It's crucial to ensure the manufacturer's technical capability before entering a partnership. Does the manufacturer have the competence, the right machines, and equipment to meet your company's needs now and in the future?
A good manufacturing partner has suitable facilities, knowledge, and equipment for the manufacturing methods and material handling you need. For example, certain products' manufacturing requires cleanroom, while in other cases, it's important that the company has specialized expertise, such as in precision mechanics.
Mectalent specializes in the manufacture of technically challenging products. Our experts represent several different fields: in addition to engineering professionals, Mectalent has deep expertise in physics, medicine, chemistry, and biomaterials – our strength is interdisciplinary thinking. We can solve challenges and implement solutions that may be impossible for another operator.
We continuously collect data from our operations. This is known as the principle of continuous improvement: we improve our processes based on data, develop, and introduce new practices. Thus, we can offer our customers the best possible service and expertise, as well as new, innovative technical solutions.
Is communication with the manufacturing partner smooth?
Communication is of primary importance in a successful project. Therefore, it's good to evaluate the smoothness of communication when choosing a manufacturing partner.
From the discussion during the exploration phase, you cannot fully determine how communication will go during the project itself. In the early stages of the process, you may not yet be in contact with the people in the manufacturer's organization who will act as contact persons once the project kicks off. Therefore, it's good to ask about communication practices as you get acquainted.
The manufacturing partner's proactive approach to communication and advancing the project in the best possible way is always to the customer's advantage. At Mectalent, we have also invested in project management and communicate with our customers actively and systematically throughout the customer relationship. Our project managers keep our customers constantly updated on the progress of the project.
What about the manufacturing partner's subcontractor network?
A manufacturing partner's good connections to subcontractors can facilitate your work as well. A broad and skilled subcontractor network adds flexibility and speed to the manufacturing process. It is advisable to boldly ask your future manufacturing partner about their subcontractor network and ensure that the subcontractors are also committed to the quality requirements important in your industry.
At Mectalent, we have long built relationships with reliable subcontractors and take responsibility for ensuring that our customers receive uncompromisingly high-quality products, even when we subcontract part of the project, such as surface treatments.
What do references say about the manufacturing partner?
Before choosing a manufacturing partner, it's important to carefully explore which industries' clients the company has worked with in the past. It's advisable to find out about the company's reputation and, if possible, ask for experiences from those who have already utilized the company's services.
References can often be found on the company's website, and from these stories, you can see what types of projects the company has previously handled. Customer stories reveal how much experience the company has with manufacturing processes in your industry. For example, Mectalent has excelled in the manufacturing of new technologies, health technologies, and technically challenging parts and devices in the safety and aviation sectors.
What additional value does the partnership bring to your company?
Lastly, it's good to consider what additional value your chosen manufacturing partner brings. Does your collaboration bring something more to your company than just the finished product? The best partnership relationship is more than just an order, delivery, and invoice.
For instance, Mectalent offers its customers not only manufacturing but also many other services under one roof. Our comprehensive product development services cover everything from product concepting to automation and software development and mechanical design. In addition, we perform various assemblies and device manufacturing for our customers. Quality assurance is an essential part of everything we do.
Mectalent also works extensively with clients from various industries, continually exploring new technologies and developing solutions that were previously unknown. This is a significant strength in a manufacturing partner: we can apply what we have learned and developed for the benefit of our customers.
Therefore, ensure that your manufacturing partner offers you more than just the finished product. A good partner ensures that you do not waste your resources, the product meets your quality requirements, and it is delivered to you on the right schedule. Additionally, a good partner ensures that communication works and that the entire supply chain is meticulously handled to the end.