By 2023, the global contract manufacturing industry is expected to reach $2.7 trillion in market size as thousands of companies outsource manufacturing. However, working with an electronic manufacturing service (EMS) partner can have positive or adverse effects. Anyone who makes this critical decision must consider the benefits, risks, challenges, and potential of EMS manufacturing.
If you want to find the best EMS manufacturing partner, you have to take the long route by examining carefully, asking the right questions, and conducting thorough research.
We have compiled a list of the most important questions you must ask your EMS manufacturing partner before signing that contract. Let’s dive in.
Questions to ask your EMS manufacturing partner
Vague questions with no specific objective will not help you find the best EMS partner. Every question you ask your EMS partner should reveal something about their work culture, workflow, reputation, credibility, and performance.
How many questions you ask or how you frame them can vary from person to person. Instead of giving you scripts, we’ll discuss seven areas to examine while interviewing an EMS partner. These areas are:
- Quality control
- Certifications and credibility
- Supplier management
- Past projects and clients
- New Product Introduction
You are on the right track if you get satisfactory responses on these fronts:
Quality control and quality management
Ensure that your EMS partner meets global and domestic standards with all their products. Word of mouth has no value or credibility here. Request reports, documents, and statistics on the quality of their products. Check how the manufacturing unit operates and whether the manufacturer uses cutting-edge machinery.
Quality control is the foundation of a great product. Ask your EMS manufacturing partner how they deal with complaints and what steps they take to improve on feedback. Try to uncover any loophole you might notice in quality control. In the end, you want to be certain that the products your EMS partner manufactures are of the highest quality.
Technical expertise means nothing if your EMS partner has no financial stability. Manufacturing can come to an abrupt halt if your EMS partner has no financial cushion to fall back on. Ensure your manufacturing partner has a healthy cash reserve to support heavy capital investments.
It’s always a good idea to check your contractor’s balance sheets and financial reports before making a decision. Evaluate their assets, liabilities, and working capital. A contract manufacturer without enough cash in hand to meet urgent demands will have adverse effects on your business.
Certifications, compliance, and industry reputation
Certifications and regulatory checks are essential for two reasons:
- First, they ensure quality control to some extent.
- Second, certifications offer a seal of approval and protect your product from regulatory criticism.
When choosing an offshore manufacturer, ensure they comply with both domestic and global standards. Do your research to learn about these standards since many protocols are industry-specific.
Avoid issues with manufacturing standards by ensuring certifications and credibility in advance. Instead of taking information at face value, do background research about your contractor and verify their credentials in online directories.
Supplier management system
Electronic contract manufacturers operate within a system of suppliers, dealers, and subcontractors. So when you hire an EMS manufacturing partner, you are indirectly hiring their suppliers and subcontractors as well.
However, you can’t single-handedly inspect everything about an EMS partner’s suppliers. The only option is to ask detailed questions about the partners your contract manufacturer works with. For example, ask for a list of suppliers, do background checks on those suppliers, and examine their track records.
A solid network of suppliers and subcontractors is the secret of every successful EMS provider. Don’t hire an EMS partner if you’re unsure about their supplier network.
Testimonials, past projects and performance
Previous clients’ testimonials speak volumes about an EMS company’s quality and performance.
However, testimonials can often be skewed and fabricated. A better approach is to look at the products and performance of a contract manufacturer’s past clients.
Did the clients experience a boost in their business after working with this EMS company? Are their products successful in the market? If possible, directly get in touch with the companies that have worked with a specific contract manufacturer.
Request case studies with data-driven reports from your contract manufacturer. Look at their progress over the years, and go for contractors who can back their claims with data.
Product development relies heavily on communication between clients and EMS companies. Communication is a challenge in both on-shore and off-shore contract manufacturing. In either case, ensure your EMS partner has a system for communicating with its clients.
If your EMS partner has a dedicated relationship manager, it’s a good sign. But more importantly, the EMS company should be proactive in communication. See how responsive they are and how detailed their answers are. Good communication between the client and the contractor is critical in electronic manufacturing services.
New Product Introduction process
New Product Introduction (NPI) is the process through which a concept becomes a product. Both the client and the contractor play important roles in the NPI process. So your EMS partner must have a proven approach to New Product Introduction.
A good NPI strategy minimises investment, shortens the manufacturing timeline, maximises profit, and extends the product’s lifecycle. It’s difficult to understand an EMS partner’s NPI strategy from the outside, so the best approach is to see how the same strategy has worked out for other products in the past. An effective NPI strategy is a marker of a high-performing EMS company.
As they say, A prudent question is one-half of wisdom. Finding the right EMS manufacturing service becomes much simpler when you have a prepared set of questions to ask potential partners.
At Oakter, we encourage our clients to ask questions, communicate, and examine our processes. Get in touch with us to learn more about our EMS services, or head over to the blog for more resources on electronic manufacturing.