In other words, if it’s a problem here, it’s a problem there…or there….or there…or wherever. There’s usually no “magic beans” in China where problems go to be solved when everywhere else it’s a problem. Tolerances hard to hold? Material characteristics don’t allow for what you optimally want? You have 90% material costs but you want to save 50% on your part? Of course I’m referring to the more in-depth complicated issues. If your factory can’t follow directions, gives you the wrong color, wrong quantity, poor quality, etc then you can fix it. In this instance metaphorically, you have electricity and the next room over may solve the problem.
It helps to understand the root of your frustrations. What is it that really bothers you with the current source? Is it the source? The material? The tolerances? Or is it that you think it can be done better after 4 factories failed? The real problem just may be a lack of understanding? I’ve seen it several times where USA manufacturers (best in the world!) can’t solve an issue or the pure characteristics of the material just won’t allow it to be 100%. So off they go to China under the guise of out of sight, out of mind. Save your time and investigate. Maybe a step backwards will produce 3 steps forward? Maybe changing materials or taking a fresh look at the design may solve that problem
Real World Example: A client had a very large plastic extruded board, approximately 4 feet x 3 feet x 1-2”H. They were frustrated that the USA manufacturers couldn’t hold the flat tolerance. It was warped, wouldn’t end up flat. So after 3 manufacturers in USA off they went to China. The results were obvious. We explained what they probably heard several times before, that the cool of such a thick piece of plastic will always leave it warped. It’s the material and design, not the manufacturers. We convinced them to take a fresh look at the overall design. After several meetings we came up with a piece-meal structure (using 4 pieces welded or assembled together permanently) and changing the material to a less volatile cooling plastic. Result: perfect tolerances, lower unit cost (off the big machine, into a smaller more efficient machine and material change) and most importantly a happy customer.
Summary: Have you ever known someone that is generally miserable and they think a new job or new relationship will fix it? Find the real source of your frustration. Sometimes it’s internal, not external.
Posted by Joel Buckley
Specialized in product development, sourcing, marketing and branding