There are several best practices that can be followed to ensure that your cost savings are not jeopardised when manufacturing offshore. In this blog we provide tips and suggestions concerning offshore manufacturing that will help you avoid possible risks and ensure that your next project runs smoothly.
Before approaching offshore manufacturing companies, it is always best practice to ensure your product design is finalised. If you are looking for an ongoing production solution, it is best if you have already completed the prototyping stage and optimised the design for production. This is also an outsourcing best practice in general, whether your supplier is in Australia or in Asia.
There is a plethora of suppliers to choose from on the internet and many will specialise in different processes. There are substantially 2 options here when looking to manufacture offshore:
- You can look for suppliers in China directly.
- There are companies in Australia, like Dragon Metal, who can manage your entire project for you and ensure you receive cost-savings while taking out all the risks.
Whether you are getting a one-off prototype made, or planning ongoing volume production, it is important to provide your partner with the technical drawings of all parts in a .pdf format and CAD models. The most common formats suppliers ask for are .dxf, .dwg, .stp, .igs., but ask your supplier what they prefer as it may change based on the process used.
Before sending your files to a supplier, make sure they are willing to give you a Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality agreement to protect your IP. If working with an Australian outsourcing company, your contract will be protected by Australian law as well.
It is not a good idea to give partial information and request a price estimation.
- Firstly, the pricing can change substantially even with a minor change.
And, it also puts the supplier in a difficult position:
- if the cost is underestimated, they could disappoint you later and risk losing the project after investing time and energy on quoting.
- On the other hand, if they overestimate, they can risk putting you off immediately.
It is always better to provide all documentation, so an accurate estimation can be given. This will save both time and money for both companies.
If you require any specific material and/or quality certificates, this should be brought up during the quoting stage. Sometimes, there can be a fee associated with these and asking for them once the project is finished can be very difficult.
Placing an order
If you are working directly with Chinese suppliers, it would be a good idea to be present at the factory at all critical moments in the production process. If going through an Australian outsourcing company, it is not as critical to be present in China. However, it will speed up the process if you are present at the factory during the first sample sign-off.
This is also the time when communication can become a problem, so if you are not represented by an Australian company you should make sure that you have someone who is experienced in working with Asia, or who speaks the language, to ensure there is no communication breakdown.
Once your parts are finished and ready to be shipped, make sure you have received photos of the parts and a quality report showing that all the dimensions are within tolerance and the specifications have all been met. If you are working with an offshore manufacturing partner, they should be able to guarantee the quality for you.
When outsourcing your ongoing volume production, another thing worth checking is the packaging design: being able to fit more assemblies in a container will of course be more cost-effective. You will also want to make sure that the parts are protected and won’t get damaged during shipping.
Offshore manufacturing has numerous advantages and can help you reduce costs substantially if done carefully. If you want to reap the benefits without having the risks, there are Australian companies, like Dragon Metal, who operate under Australian law and can manage your production for you, and provide 100% quality guarantee and ensure confidentiality.