“Help! We have our top priority project started and I can’t get to China!”
Prior to Covid19, we had several clients who had commenced exciting new product launch plans requiring keen oversight of their contract manufacturing projects. One idea we always stress is the importance of involvement especially at the onset with the factory owner or boss, by the brand owner or company utilizing the manufacturer. This accomplishes two key objectives. First, it establishes a relationship with the supplier which is important for demonstrating commitment by the brand as well as gives all parties the chance to meet and get to know one another. Most know this is invaluable as it relates to China’s business culture. Secondly, being present affords the opportunity to refine and tighten specifications for product details, fit and function, and quality testing.
Because the pandemic has eliminated for the foreseeable future, travel into China there is no substitute for having a trusted partner on the ground to oversee contract manufacturing projects underway. If you are injection molding in Asia for instance, tooling or mold making is critical for hitting tight tolerances on your final part. This is not something that can easily be accomplished with Zoom or Skype calls particularly when sampling a first article of inspection. Tight quality control in China requires having a verified (references checked) Asia supply chain consultant who is familiar with your materials and more so the industry where the finished goods are marketed.
I am often amazed when we get calls from intelligent and accomplished business people who have skipped the above steps but then call when they require pre-shipment inspections in China/Asia. So there is a container being loaded, presumably with over $50K in finished goods and the caller wants to have someone travel to the factory to do a PSI (pre-shipment inspection) in some town that takes a half-day travel to get to. We have a saying which is “You can’t inspect quality into an order.” By this point, the client has paid 50% of the bill upfront and is required to pay the balance before the factory will release the goods. And the inevitable occurs…where the product does not pass either performance specifications or aesthetic (packaging, color, shape, etc) requirements that were simply lost in translation. How much does this cost a brand not just in capital but also time and opportunity? Delays here mean delays in capturing revenue!
There is no substitute for having a turnkey manufacturing partner in Asia. Most suppliers have no motive for ripping you off. There are simple details that unfold over the course of new product development that can only be clarified in face to face meetings with a supplier. Do the research, ask for references, and interview several candidates before selecting your Asia supply chain consultant.
David Alexander is President of Baysource Global, a leading Asia Supply Chain organization founded in 2005. He can be reached at David.firstname.lastname@example.org