How to Evaluate Potential Manufacturers
The Ultimate Guide to Selecting an MFG Manufacturer: Strategies & Tips
Finding the right manufacturer to fulfill your production needs can be a daunting task. The sheer number of manufacturers to choose from can be overwhelming, leaving you to identify who is experienced, reliable, and able to offer you the best quality. Inquiring about pricing, lead times, and quality control can be time-consuming too.
MFG is the solution to meeting your production needs, granting access to a vast supplier database and network of trusted and verified manufacturers worldwide, providing you with powerful tools to make informed decisions and find manufacturers that match your standards.
The goal of this blog is to make it easy for you to partner with a manufacturer that aligns with your production values and requirements, and needs in terms of capacity, materials and technology, and sustainability.
Defining Your Product Needs First
Before outsourcing production to a manufacturer at MFG, outline your product specifications and develop a clear understanding of what you need in quantity, customization, and production method.
It’s also helpful to know what type of manufacturing process you prefer, although not a requirement as manufacturers can discuss different options with you and explain the pros and cons of each. MFG categorizes manufacturers by specialty though, so knowing whether you require 3D printing or injection molding helps you narrow down your search and optimize the quality of your end part—as well as helping you estimate costs, turnaround time, and anticipate any other typical concerns like supply chain issues. Please note that MFG manufacturers do not work in textiles, jewelry, or clothing.
Getting Started: Submit a Request for Quote
A Request for Quote, or RFQ, allows you to clearly communicate your project requirements. Once an RFQ is released, you will begin to receive quotes on your project from manufacturers, clearly outlining what they have to offer in terms of production and prices. Not only do you have access to the most competitive pricing via the RFQ process–allowing you to remain on point in terms of budget–but you eliminate the time-consuming process of conducting one negotiation after another with individual manufacturers. While our full RFQ process requires you to choose a specific manufacturing process and upload full designs, you can also submit a Partial RFQ and an MFG team member can help you decide what is best for your project.
Once you review quotes and select a supplier/manufacturer, you can send them a purchase order and continue to communicate through MFG.
Evaluating Potential Manufacturers
The objective is to find a supplier who can meet your standards of production within the designated timeframe and budget. With MFG’s tools, you can easily compare price, read reviews, and get details on the shop’s machines and capabilities. Here are some of the ways you can evaluate manufacturers, through MFG and conversations with your potential suppliers.
Read customer reviews from buyers just like yourself. Manufacturer profiles also often include relevant information like:
- The number of years they have been in business
- Pictures of their shop floors
- Links to their business website
Research necessary certifications, licenses, and insurance too. While not all manufacturer profiles on MFG have their credentials listed, many do. You can actually search by certification to find the best fit for you; for example, we have many ITAR-compliant shops and ISO-certified manufacturers.
Considering Location and Logistics
Even though a manufacturer may check off all the boxes in terms of capability and production, if their facility is too far away, your own business could be negatively impacted.
Working with a manufacturer closer to you can be more cost-effective, especially as transportation is affected by fuel prices, shipping methods, and distance. If a manufacturer site is too far away for your purposes, additional shipping costs could add up quickly–especially if product volume is large.
Closer proximity improves supply chain efficiency, reducing lead times, helping you meet customer demand (and preserving your company’s reputation). The other perk of being nearby is that you can communicate with the manufacturer more easily, or even in-person, rather than dealing with different time zones or possible language barriers if they are in another country. In some cases, a manufacturer may be so close that you are able to visit their facility too.
But what if you really have your heart set on working with a manufacturer far away? It would be wise to do your best in confirming whether they have a proven track record in meeting deadlines and delivering on time, despite distance.
Tip: Find out more about using and providing manufacturing services close to home, as well as offshore, in our MFG ebook, Onshoring, Offshoring, and Nearshoring.
Inquiring About Production Processes and Capacity
Although you may have found a manufacturer who seems to be a great match in terms of cost and turnaround time, production processes and capacity-level can have significant impact on end products and delivery times.
Here are several key issues to explore before making a decision:
- Quality control – Quality is always expected. If you are producing parts for use in critical applications like aerospace or automotive though, it is especially important to review the manufacturer’s quality control methods to ensure they can deliver parts up to your standards. Ask about inspection processes, procedures for dealing with defects, and what corrective actions the manufacturer takes to ensure quality in end products.
- Volume and capacity – Ask the manufacturer about their equipment, manufacturing techniques, and capability to make the volume of products you need, on time. Get up to speed on any potential bottlenecks or ongoing projects at their site that could delay production. Be aware of supply chain disruptions, and ask about contingency plans for keeping your project on track.
- Hidden costs – While making sure that any manufacturer’s production costs are within your bottom line, don’t forget to ask about the possibility of hidden fees or charges that could sink your budget.
Effective communication is crucial when working with any manufacturer. Tip: It’s important to establish whether they will be open to consistent check-ins and progress updates to ensure a successful outcome.
Measuring Customer-Service Skills
Good customer service can help you resolve any issues that may arise, and ensure you receive the support you need.
You can usually learn a great deal about a manufacturer’s level of customer service by reading online reviews included on their MFG Manufacturing Profile. Looking at how many jobs they have accomplished on MFG and the review of the work given to them by another MFG user can give you a peace of mind when searching for the right manufacturer.
Tip: Using MFG to research your chosen manufacturer will give you the ability to evaluate based on previous work accomplished with other MFG users.
Assessing Innovation and Technology
Manufacturers that embrace innovation and offer the latest technology are better equipped to meet the demands of their customers. Ask about their R&D efforts and investment in new equipment and software to determine if their capabilities align with your goals.
Does the manufacturer you are interested in working with have experience in producing the parts you need? Seek out manufacturers that have been in business long enough to establish a proven track record in making quality products.
Tip: In the MFG directory, manufacturers list the machines that they have onsite. If you know or have researched which machines are best for your job, this might be a good way to find a fit.
Asking About Their Approach to Sustainability
When looking for a manufacturer, it is important to learn about their sustainability practices. An increasing number of customers are more environmentally-conscious these days, and your products should align with their values and expectations too.
Following are some topics you may want to ask about:
- Material sustainability
- Reduced/recyclable packaging waste
- Energy efficiency
- Carbon footprint reduction
Ultimately, asking for and promoting sustainability is not only good for our planet—it’s good for business too.
Choosing the right manufacturer is a critical decision that can have a significant impact on the success of your business. With careful research and consideration, you should be able to establish a partnership with a manufacturer that helps you achieve your own business goals and deliver high-quality products to your customers.
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