If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, right? Not necessarily. When it comes to manufacturing, sometimes the better philosophy is “more hands make light work.”
Sure, there’s something to be said about keeping all your manufacturing in-house. You have complete control (and responsibility) over the quality, volume, and delivery time. However, instead of looking at it as an all-or-nothing decision, we encourage customers to distinguish between core and non-core manufacturing.
Core vs Non-Core Manufacturing
Core components typically involve proprietary technology or differentiate your product from the competition. For these instances, in-house manufacturing delivers the most value to your company. On the other hand, non-core components are necessary to complete the product but call for processes outside your team’s wheelhouse – or simply don’t return enough value for the effort.
The issue is that many OEMs stubbornly keep all their non-core manufacturing in-house, which leads to:
Additional overhead costs for machinery, maintenance, materials, etc.
Higher labor costs to run the machines and manage the supply chain
Lower productivity if processes are not optimized, such as with work cell manufacturing setup
By outsourcing your non-core manufacturing tasks to an experienced manufacturing partner, you can consolidate vendors, free up facility space, and ensure material continuity – all without sacrificing quality. In fact, the right partner may even help improve the quality of your product.
The next step is to look around your manufacturing facility to see which processes you can efficiently outsource. Here are some places to start.
Flexographic printing has many benefits, including high-quality image reproduction, high speeds (meaning high productivity), and versatility of inks, just to name a few. However, flexo can also be a finicky printing process to deal with.
First, setup is critical. If there is a mistake or miscalculation in the press setup, it could cause defects and quickly waste material and ink. Also, since flexographic is a roll-to-roll printing technique, secondary converting processes such as cutting or slitting are sometimes required to complete the application (adding more time and energy to the process).
Flexible materials can improve the performance or aesthetic of a product. Conversely, flexible materials add complexities to the manufacturing process. If your product uses flexible materials such as films, foams, foils, wovens, or plastics, you could be spending extra resources on converting processes.
Not all printing is created equal. Printing traditional ink on paper is one thing – but industrial or functional printing is a whole different ball game. For example, applications such as printed indicators or printed electronics require expertise with functional inks, an understanding of substrate materials, and skill with printing techniques. There’s also variable data printing (such as for barcodes, personalizing, or security features), which requires specialized equipment, software, and knowledge.
Multi-step materials converting
Any time you combine multiple converting steps, the complexity of the manufacturing process increases exponentially. A good example is lamination, where multiple layers of material are combined into a composite. Often, these multi-step applications aren’t worth the time or hassle to do in-house. A qualified manufacturing partner should have modular, multi-step converting equipment that reduces changeover time, minimizes material waste, and ensures consistent quality.
Next step – finding the right partner
As you can see, outsourced manufacturing doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of your operations. You can test the waters with the process (or processes) that make the most sense or are easier to hand off. There are many facets to consider when choosing a manufacturing partner, but it really comes down to finding a company with the right capabilities and collaborative mindset.
As an advanced manufacturer with an extensive range of printing and materials converting capabilities, Tapecon has proven a track record of quality, reliability, and value-added services that delivers a competitive advantage to our customers. If you’re considering outsourcing any of your non-core manufacturing processes, contact our team for a consultation.
Let’s make something great
With over 100 years of manufacturing experience, Tapecon works with product teams to solve challenges, create products, and enhance lives. Learn more about our outsourced manufacturing services.