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7 Steps to Identifying the Right Subcontract Manufacturing for a Business

Picture yourself as a chef — you have the recipe, the ingredients and the kitchen, but you need a sous chef, a professional who can help you bring the dish to perfection.

A subcontract manufacturing partner is just like a sous chef. They can bring great value to your business, ranging from expertise and experience to specialised equipment and technology. Generally, subcontract manufacturers take care of the technical aspects of the process, allowing you to focus on other areas of your business.

But not all sous chefs are the same; some may be better at baking, and others may be experts in cutting vegetables. So you need to find the one that matches your subcontract manufacturing needs.

Steps to Choose the Right Subcontract Manufacturing for Your Business


Subcontract manufacturing is a great way to outsource certain aspects of production, but with so many options available, it can be challenging to know where to start. It’s essential to take the time to research potential subcontract manufacturing partners, evaluate their capabilities, and compare costs and lead times.

Here are a few steps you can consider.

1. Define Your Needs

Before you search for a subcontract manufacturing partner, you must precisely define your company’s needs. Consider factors such as the type of product you need to be manufactured, the volume you need to be produced, and the timeframe in which you need the product delivered. A clear understanding of your needs will help you narrow down the field of potential partners.

2. Research Potential Partners

Once you clearly understand your needs, you can start researching potential partners. Look for companies with experience in the type of manufacturing you require and a track record of delivering high-quality products on time. You can also ask for references from other companies that have worked with the subcontractor in the past.

3. Evaluate The Subcontractor’s Capabilities

It’s important to evaluate the capabilities of a potential subcontract manufacturing partner to ensure they have the necessary equipment, personnel, and processes in place to meet your needs. You should also review the company’s quality control processes and ask about their quality assurance protocols.

Consider the machinery and technology a company has at its disposal and its willingness to take on different orders. Networking at industry expos or referrals can also be a great way to discover new subcontract manufacturing partners.

It’s important to remember that not all manufacturers have the same focus and capabilities. While some may excel in bulk production, they may not be suitable for smaller or single-unit prototypes. Others may not have the capacity for large-scale production but are perfect for prototyping needs. Finding the right balance of capabilities is essential for a successful subcontract manufacturing partnership.

4. Compare Costs And Lead Times

The fourth step in identifying the right subcontract manufacturing partner is to compare costs and lead times. Determine which partner can provide the best balance of cost and delivery time for the company’s needs.

Consider not just the upfront costs of manufacturing but also any additional expenses that may be incurred, such as shipping and handling fees or import taxes. Also, consider the long-term costs of working with a particular partner, such as the cost of maintaining the relationship and any potential costs associated with quality control issues.

The lead time is also an important factor to consider when evaluating potential partners. A shorter lead time can be beneficial as it allows the company to get the products to market faster, which can lead to increased sales and revenue. It’s also worth noting that the cost and lead time are variable as production scales up or down.

Remember that this evaluation is not a one-time exercise, it’s an ongoing process to ensure the cost and lead time stay balanced with the company’s needs.

5. Visit The Facility

When you have narrowed down the list of potential partners, it’s a good idea to visit the facility to see the operations firsthand. This will allow you to inspect the equipment, ask questions directly and assess the conditions and standard of the manufacturing unit.

6. Evaluate Communication And Collaboration

Strong communication and collaboration are critical to the success of any manufacturing partnership. Be sure to ask about the company’s communication protocols and procedures and evaluate how well they work with their customers. Schedule regular meetings to keep the in-person or virtual collaboration channels open. Open communication to address any issues that may arise ensures the partnership remains successful over time.

7. Evaluate Long-Term Potential

Lastly, consider the potential for a long-term partnership. This step is important for assessing the future growth and scalability of the company and how the subcontract manufacturing partner can support that growth.

Consider factors such as the company’s capacity to grow with the business, its willingness to adapt to changing production needs and its ability to handle increased volume over time. Additionally, you should also evaluate the subcontractor’s ability to provide support and assistance as the business expands, such as providing training for new employees or offering assistance with product development.

The business may have different requirements in the future, such as new products or an increase in production volume, so it’s important to choose a partner that can handle these changes and adapt to new requirements.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to subcontract manufacturing, finding the right partner is essential for ensuring the success of your business. The key is approaching with a clear understanding of your needs and a well-thought-out strategy for identifying the right subcontract manufacturing partner. Following the steps mentioned earlier, you can find a subcontracting partner to help you achieve your business goals.

The primary quality that separates a good subcontract manufacturing partner from a great one is how well they collaborate with businesses. When a subcontract manufacturer cares about the quality of your product or component, it ensures qualitative outcomes. Oakter can help you achieve this. We specialise in developing innovative products, OEM and white-label solutions, and shipping 500k+ products per month.

Reach out to us today!

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