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10 Areas to Consider When Selecting a Contract Manufacturer

How to Choose a Contract Manufacturer

In our personal lives, long-term and valuable relationships are rarely formed based on a single attribute. The same goes for having a productive relationship with a contract manufacturer.

While there are numerous benefits to outsourcing manufacturing, it's critical that you select the right partner. To do so, there are also many factors to consider (hint: not just price).

1. Capabilities

One of the main reasons you may decide to outsource manufacturing is to tap into capabilities you don't have in-house. So, any converter you might consider should at the very least have the equipment and knowledge to make your desired component. But don’t just stop there. Learn about any additional capabilities that may allow you to consolidate vendors. Or ask about add-on services such as packaging and assembly. The right contract manufacturer can provide added value you may not have considered.

2. Experience and expertise.

For complex products or highly regulated industries, manufacturing is more than a list of capabilities. The right partner should also offer appropriate experience in your industry, along with expertise that complements your core competencies. For example, some companies are general manufacturers while others focus on industries such as medical or industrial. For materials and printing expertise, you can verify that a potential partner has earned “preferred” status with leading suppliers such as 3M and Dupont.

3. Quality of products or components.

To enjoy the benefits of outsourcing, you should never have to sacrifice the quality of the final product. After all, your success and company reputation are on the line. When assessing new partners, request to review samples of their work to make sure the quality is up to your standards.

4. Confidentiality.

In addition to evaluating their product samples, don’t be afraid to ask about intellectual property and non-disclosure agreements during the vetting process. A reputable manufacturer should be willing to sign an agreement that ensures protection of both parties' confidential information.

5. Quality management systems and certifications.

Risk management and regulatory compliance are two areas that you cannot afford to overlook. To protect your company, be sure to evaluate a manufacturer’s Quality Management System, review their quality certifications such as ISO 9001:2015, and ask about industry-specific certifications such as with the FDA.

6. Communication and documentation style.

Outsourcing should be a smooth integration and provide relief to your internal team – not add more work or stress. Talk with a potential manufacturing partner about their communication and documentation processes to makes sure they fit with how you already do business.

7. Longevity and stability.

Any disruption to your supply chain can be immensely damaging to your product and business. So, it’s fair for you to evaluate the performance and financial stability of a company before you entrust them with your manufacturing. For example, Tapecon has been in business since 1919 and is well-positioned for the future. You can also review a potential partner's website for any customer testimonials.

8. Total costs.

It may be tempting to go with the lowest quote but that might not be the full story. Instead, evaluate the total cost of manufacturing, including shipping, assembly (whether done in-house or by another vendor), inventory management, duties, insurance, and more. Understanding the total cost of manufacturing options will allow you to compare apples to apples.

9. Production flexibility.

If you anticipate a need to be ready for fluctuating product demands, make sure that your manufacturer has the ability to scale up or down. Do they have the capabilities and resources to ramp up production quickly so you can capitalize on opportunities? The right partner should be ready and able to grow with you.

10. Location.

Depending on your needs, where your manufacturing partner is located can make a world of difference. Most companies have a preference between onshore versus offshore manufacturing. Offshore is typically considered cheaper but comes with potential language barriers, political disruptions, and longer delivery times. On the other hand, a local or regional partner can provide the opportunity for face-to-face meetings and quicker turnarounds.

When selecting a contract manufacturing partner, it’s important to look at the big picture. By considering these 10 areas, you can make an informed and comfortable decision that offers you the most advantages and opportunities.

Get started with outsourced manufacturing.

At Tapecon, we have over 100 years of experience helping customers solve their complex product challenges. Learn more about our contract manufacturing capabilities.

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