Global sourcing is not as difficult as you may think, especially when you have the right partner. The process is fairly straightforward, but if you have never worked with a partner in China or had experience producing a product overseas, it can seem overwhelming. So, where do you start?
Step 1: Product Assessment – Assess what you are trying to manufacture. If it is an established part or component, you likely have access to dimensional drawings, samples, and a list of processes needed to create that product. Your intentions may be simply price or supply chain driven, which may lead you to seek a partner who can review the available resources and offer real cost savings solutions or additional capacity. Alternately, if your product is something still in development, evaluate if you are going to need guidance to bring the product fully to market and if there is any conceptual work still to be done. In many instances, this second scenario will lead you to a completely different solution.
Step 2: Product Samples – Once you have found the right partner and know what path you are marching down; the next step is to obtain a prototype or sample. Based on the information you have provided and the manufacturer chosen to produce the part overseas, your partner should be able to provide a prototype or sample part, which can be used to test form, fit-functionality, or simply review the look and feel of the materials chosen. This step is critical to ensuring you will be happy with the result.
Step 3: Production – this is what it is all about! Your final product will go into production once a sample or prototype is approved and timeline established. Normal production time is 30 to 60 days after you approve your product for production (depending on the complexity of the project). You can and should expect regular updates from your partner regarding the production status, when the product will be shipped, and what port it will be arriving at, to name a few. A good sourcing company offers such specialty services as monitoring of production process, quality control, and capacity management.
Step 4: Quality Control – This is one of the biggest perceived obstacles when placing goods overseas for production. Many people think that China = poor quality. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially when you are working with a proven, experienced global sourcing partner; quality should be an expectation and the norm. While the quality process goes hand-in-hand with production, it also encompasses things like in-house testing, on-site inspections and packaging check.
Step 5: Shipping – Logistics is crucial to overseas production because knowing your products are shipped and on time can make or break the global sourcing process. Things happen in any manufacturing scenario, but when your partner has dedicated logistical resources, headaches and surprises can be avoided entirely.
While there is no one great path to moving your product overseas, as always, choosing the right partner is half the battle.