What You Need to Know When Choosing the Right Supply Chain Partners

Having a trusted and specialized group to lead the areas knowing all changes in global compliance and regulations, IoT, consumer protections, quality sourcing and production, distribution and marketability is critical.

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Editor's note: Mark Dohnalek is President & CEO of Pivot International, the Kansas-based global product development, engineering & manufacturing firm

Working with partners in manufacturing and supply chain is essential for success.

Having a trusted and specialized group to lead the areas knowing all changes in global compliance and regulations, IoT, consumer protections, quality sourcing and production, distribution and marketability is critical.

Leading a company with manufacturing experience in assembly, electronics, original design, product prototype and more; we know how important choosing the right partner is to achieve success throughout every stage of the supply chain process from production through delivery.

Below are key factors in what should be considered when reviewing partners for your project:

Experience – what type and what level? When you ask about their experience, listen closely to the answers. For instance, if you want to make an electronic product, can the representative speak to electronic sourcing? You need to be sure they have sound knowledge and experience. Additionally, find out what brands they have worked with and on what initiatives. If they share recognizable brands, it could be indicative of the manufacturer's reliability and potential to understand the global landscape. Always ask for references and take the time to contact them.

Capacity – large or small are they smart and agile? The biggest challenge manufacturers will face is shifting priorities based on development, sourcing, production or logistics needs. How well can these partners realign and reroute? Large manufacturers may have a wider breadth of experts, but small specialized manufacturers may have the advantage of greater flexibility. Bigger is not necessarily better but smaller could mean less leverage if things need to move quickly. Bottom-line, do your homework and find out who is the best fit for you.

Communication – language, culture and overall sensibilities. If tomorrow for you means “tomorrow” but for them it means “soon” – you have a problem. Make sure words, expectations, and sense of urgency all match. This is especially important regarding your desired production timeline to be sure you are on the same page and all partners will be working in sync across the fulfillment process.

Sourcing, Minimums & Quality. You may be outsourcing to them but do they intend to outsource to another company? Find if the partner you're considering relies on this approach, and if so, to what degree and then research their partners too. Another important consideration is the manufacturer's MOQ (minimum order quantity). This varies so be sure you agree on this before advancing. And the same goes for quality assurance. Ask about their practices on quality controls throughout every stage of the production cycle, not just the end, to ensure all product components are devoid of defects.

Payment Terms. If this is your first time working with the manufacturer, they may require pre-production payment in full. Verify if this is the case, so you won't be hit with any surprises.

Being part of a supply chain on a product development initiative can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences in the manufacturing business. Make sure you are working with a team that is right for you to make it a rewarding success!


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