Busting Myths About Manufacturing in Asia (Part I)


When a brand signs with a contract manufacturer, they are ceding some of their control over to their new partner. It’s imperative to vet you manufacturing partner to ensure their facility will meet your needs by delivering the quality and capacity required for your project. The most successful partnerships rely on frequent, clear communication in conjunction with scheduled quality-checks and set objectives, at various points within the manufacturing process. This holds true whether your contact manufacturer is located around the block or halfway around the world. Here, we address some common misconceptions about contract manufacturing in China and neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

MYTH 1: PRODUCTS MADE IN CHINA ARE INFERIOR TO PRODUCTS MADE IN USA

There are good & bad manufacturers everywhere. The goal is to scale the level of expertise your project requires to the ability of the contract manufacturer. You may have recently read in the New York Times: “A Tiny Screw Shows Why iPhone’s Won’t Be ‘Assembled in U.S.A.”  The article cites an example where Apple chose an American-based contract manufacturer to supply screws for the MacPro, a top-of-the-line computer. The 20-person shop had an output capacity of 1,000 screws per day; they couldn’t meet the design requirements or fulfill the volume needed to meet demand. Apple’s Chinese based contract manufacturer could deliver “vast quantities of custom screws on short notice” and was outfitted with “state-of-the-art machines and lots of people who know how to run them.” In the end, Apple, who benefits from a complex and geographically-blended supply chain, was able to have the screws manufactured in China and shipped to the USA for assembly. Once again, it’s important to pick a partner with the manufacturing capabilities that is right for the project. A US based plant makes sense in the right set of circumstances. For instance, if the project required a facility that was set up for automation, using robotics, as is often required in the automotive industry, there are numerous US based manufacturing facilities that are structured for this type of operation. China, on the other hand, has spent decades evolving into the most capable contract manufacturing epicenter in the world, equipped with a highly skilled human workforce. Companies from around the world rely on China’s ability to deliver very complex, high-volume components, at a cost-effective rate. As China’s economy evolves and the cost of manufacturing increases, compiled by concerns of added international tariffs, we are seeing high-quality contract manufacturing operations shifting into neighboring Southeast Asian countries, like Vietnam and the Philippines. These countries will soon be known for their state-of-the-art equipment and the exceptional quality of their human workforce, too. Regardless of geographic location, the end goal is to select a contract manufacturer that is going to deliver quality goods, on-time.

MYTH 2: I LOSE CONTROL OVER MY PROJECT BY NOT USING A LOCAL CONTRACT MANUFACTURER

There is no doubt that it is easier to drive your car to your local contract
manufacturer for a quality check, than it is to fly half-way around the world for the same purpose. It is not true, however, that because your supplier is local, that you’re guaranteed high-quality and on-time delivery. The goal is to choose a manufacturing partner who is going to consistently deliver on quality, timing and cost. When working with a manufacturing partner who is far away, make sure there is a quality protocol is in place. Here are a few steps to take in order to avoid miscommunication. The use of design software programs and email facilitates the exchange of pertinent information. It is critical that product requirements and quality
standards are well documented and understood by all parties. A thought-out and intentional quality plan should always be in place before production begins. At a minimum, a pre-production sample should be required on a new project. It is crucial that buyers check a sample for accuracy before a production run begins. Best practices dictate that taking measured, quality-assurance steps to prevent a potential production mishap is better than realizing there is a serious problem after the production run. There are price advantages when working with an Asian-based contract manufacturer, but travelling to Asia for a quality check can be both hard and costly. There are options, however, that can help alleviate the headache of traveling to China. One option is to hire a third-party that will inspect the items prior to the production run; or, you can choose a turn-key contract manufacturer that has personnel on both continents. For instance, here at Genimex, we provide full-service contract manufacturing services to our clients. We are Western owned and managed, with employees in Shanghai, Taipei and New York City. We partner with Chinese and Southeast Asian suppliers and manufacturers that are vetted by our in-house quality control team. We have the capability to appraise factory performance, cost and reliability. We have a talented pool of account managers that can help you during the product life cycle, and we can deliver on quality, cost and on-time delivery.