You wouldn't let just anyone babysit your kids, and you shouldn't let just anyone manufacture your EC motors either (they are precious cargo too)! When seeking an ECM manufacturing partner, there are several factors to consider and a whole slew of question to ask before diving into a serious commitment. We explore some of the most critical points below.
Trust is an essential factor in any serious relationship, whether personal or business-oriented. Here are some initial questions you should ask about a prospective ECM partner to decide if it's smart to proceed with the relationship:
- Can you trust them?
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they have patents, a history, an actual office address?
- Is their website current?
- Does the deal seem too good to be true (possible red flag)?
- Are they simply a wholesaler, or are you dealing with the actual manufacturer?
- Are you communicating with a legitimate email address, or email@example.com?
- Do they have references you can contact?
It can take several years to build a robust, reliable network of suppliers. Transparency is crucial to building trust with your manufacturing partner. Without an open-door policy, doubt can begin to creep in, which is toxic for any relationship and can quickly quash any previously established trust. Here are some important questions to ask about your prospective partner:
- Are they really transparent? Exactly how transparent are they?
- Are you welcome to visit their offices, warehouses, manufacturing facilities?
- Is their supply chain opaque and murky by design?
3 Technical Expertise
Obviously, you need to work with a manufacturing partner who has design experience, expert problem solving skills and a highly knowledgable team. Here are a few questions to ask to get a better feel for their level of technical expertise when it comes to EC motors:
- Do these guys appear to know what they are doing?
- Can they send legitimate samples of products they are currently producing?
- Do they have the technical know-how to understand CFM, airflow, blade pitch, constant speed vs. constant torque, and clockwise vs. counterclockwise rotor rotation?
4 Scaling Capabilities
Long-lead items excluded, how quickly can your EC motor partner scale up when your products begin to gain market share? This concern may not even be on your radar yet, but it's important to understand the true volume capabilities of a potential manufacturing partner and have confidence they will be able to handle a quick scaling-up when the time comes.
- What flexibility can this supplier offer in terms of volume fluctuations?
- Do they have the capacity to make 10,000 units per month instead of the usual 1,000 monthly units should your demand suddenly spike?
- Are they willing to meet the expectations your customers are asking of you?
5 Good Quality Track Record
Regardless of how trustworthy, transparent and knowledgable your supply partner is, if the quality is sub-par, nothing else matters! Place a high priority on understanding and verifying a manufacturer's quality standards and procedures.
- What is the realistic longevity of their EC motors?
- Have they created a global quality plan? If so, will they share it with you?
- Do they have a quality manager you can meet?
- Are they able to produce accurate life testing results?
How can you be certain you're dealing with an EC motor partner who values quality as much as you do? Simple. Just ask! Ask to see the plan, the documents, the APQP, and the supplier reports. Otherwise, what assurance will you have when your boss asks, “Are these guys qualified?”